The Houston Tigers played with –– and even outplayed in stretches –– the top two teams in the South Central Association.

On Friday night, HHS led Thayer by double digits in the third quarter before eventually running out of gas and losing 54-45. Against SCA-unbeaten Liberty, the short-handed Tigers shined in the third quarter and hung tough as part of a 53-40 defeat Tuesday night.

Although both games were losses, the Tigers (6-15, 1-5 SCA) proved they can hang with the conference’s best. Liberty is 5-0 in conference play and the Bobcats have just one defeat in the SCA.

“We have yet to believe we can play with, and beat, these

top-tier teams,” Tigers coach Richard Rose said. “We are in good shape if we come to play and compete.”

Devin Coulter scored 12 of his team-best 24 points in the third quarter against the Eagles. Aaron Cantrell added eight points.

The Tigers, who were without starter Kolby Walker and reserve Nathan Poynter as they missed the game with illnesses, rallied from a 31-13 halftime deficit with a strong third quarter. Coulter hit three of his four 3-pointers in the period and the Liberty lead was trimmed to 10 on Tanner Smith’s layin with 32 seconds left in the period.

Houston cut the deficit to single digits on Weston Walker’s basket with 7:49 remaining as part of a 22-12 rally. Liberty scored 10 of the game’s final 15 points to hang on.

“We beat ourselves in the first half,” Rose said. “We knew we were out-manned and played a little scared and tentative.”

On Thursday, Coulter scored 17 points in the Tigers’ loss to Thayer. Cantrell had 13 and Weston Walker added 10.

Houston outscored Thayer 13-6 in the second quarter for a six-point halftime lead. The advantage was still six entering the fourth before the Bobcats had a 24-9 edge down the stretch to rally for the win.

The Bobcats had a 24-9 fourth-quarter advantage to rally for the win.

“We played three solid quarters,” Rose said. “Our lack of depth hurt us a great deal. It is something we have known all year and won’t change. We have to deal with it and play at another level if we want to win these games.

“I am very happy with our intensity and execution. We just have not been able to gut it out and play for a full four quarters against a solid team”

JUNIOR VARSITY: Kobe Sutton made five 3-pointers and scored 20 points in the JV Tigers’ 54-34 loss Friday to Thayer. On Tuesday, Liberty defeated Houston 56-5.

Box scores

VARSITY

Tuesday’s game

Liberty       19    12    12    10    –    53 
Houston   6   7   20   7   –   40

HOUSTON (40) –– Devin Coulter 24. Aaron Cantrell 8. Tanner Smith 2. Weston Walker 4. Keegan Spurlin 2. FG 17. FT 2-4. F 12. (3-pointers: Coulter 4. Fouled out: none).

Friday’s game

Thayer       10    6    14    24    –    54 
Houston   9   13    14    9   –   45

HOUSTON (45) –– Devin Coulter 17. Weston Walker 10. Kolby Walker 2. Aaron Cantrell 13. Tanne r Smith 3. FG 19. FT 2-4. (3-pointers: Cantrell 2, Coulter, Smith, WWalker).

JUNIOR VARSITY

Tuesday’s game

Liberty      35    6    12    3    –    56 
Houston   2   3   0   0   –   5

HOUSTON (55) –– Zack Gregory 1. Skylur Malam 2. Kaleb Adkison 2. FG 2. FT 1-2. F 9. (3-pointers: none. Fouled out: none).

Friday’s game

Thayer      10    6    14    24    –    54 
Houston    9   14   6  5   –   34

HOUSTON (34) –– Tyler Best 6. Nathan Poynter 1. Dylan Coulter 1. Skylur Malam 2. Kobe Sutton 20. Keegan Spulin 4. FG 13. FT 3-6. F 15. (3-pointers: Sutton 5. Fouled out: none).

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