Houston coach Rod Gorman said he liked his team’s fight in the season opener. But playing without three potential starting guards against a trapping defense was too much to overcome.
The Tigers committed 23 turnovers against Cuba’s 1-3-1 halfcourt pressure and didn’t have quite enough offensive firepower in a 54-45 loss Tuesday night inside Hiett Gymnasium.
Houston (0-1) was without sophomores Kyler Ramsey (finger), Isaiah Buse (ankle) and Clayton Moore (ankle). Moore is expected to return soon but Ramsey and Buse could be sidelined until January.
“It’s not an excuse but when you take three of your skilled kids off the floor at the guard position, it makes it tough,” Gorman said. “Our other guys will have to become better passers and ball handlers and have more poise.”
Houston, Texas, transfer Michael Zamarron hit four 3-pointers en route to a game-high 21 points for the Tigers. Ty McCloud had eight points, six assists and three of the team’s eight steals. Christian Heathington, a transfer from Couch, had a team-best six rebounds.
“I liked Christian’s energy and thought Mike did some good things,” Gorman said.
Trailing 15-11 early in the first quarter, Houston got a triple from Zamarron, transition layin by Paydon Dixon and a pair of free throws to take a two-point lead. But the advantage didn’t last. Cuba (1-0) ended the second quarter on an 11-2 run to build a lead it wouldn’t relinquish.
The Tigers had 15 turnovers at the half.
“We’re short in the guard spots, and they exposed us,” Gorman said. “We didn’t do a good job passing around and under hands. We seemed to hit their hands a lot with the ball.”
It’s something Gorman said he will address in the coming days. HHS has 10 days off until playing again Dec. 1 at Seymour.
“We will work on passing extensively every day until we pass better,” Gorman said.
After falling behind by as many as 14 points, HHS crept closer to Cuba in the fourth quarter. Michael Clayton converted a free throw to make it an eight-point game with 5 minutes, 30 seconds remaining and the deficit was seven on Heathington’s offensive putback.
Cuba answered by scoring six of the next nine points to maintain its advantage as the teams traded points down the stretch.
“If we won, that wouldn’t make us a great basketball team. If we lost, that wasn’t going to make us a bad basketball team,” Gorman said. “We’ll go to work and get better.”
JUNIOR VARSITY: Thomas Smith hit a pair of 3-pointers and scored 12 points to lead the JV Tigers to a season-opening 46-38 victory Tuesday night against Cuba.
Jaekan Moss added seven points for Houston, which led 11-4 after the opening quarter. Nine different players scored.
FRESHMEN: Jacob Moseley had seven points as the Houston freshmen team beat Cuba 15-7 Tuesday night. The game was two quarters.
Cuba 12 14 12 16 – 54
Houston 11 8 7 19 – 45
HOUSTON (45) – Paydon Dixon 4. Michael Clayton 3. Michael Zamarron 21. Dakota Burchett 1. Ty McCloud 8. Christian Heathington 5. CJ Lee 3. FG 16. FT 9-17. F 21. (3-pointers: Zamarron 4. Fouled out: Clayton, Heathington, Lee).
Cuba 4 8 11 15 – 38
Houston 11 7 12 16 – 46
HOUSTON (46) – Kyle Mills 2. Nick Zamarron 5. Thomas Smith 12. Elliot Clark 2. Dakota Burchett 5. Jaekan Moss 7. Tristan Leir 4. Ty Franklin 5. Sterling Jackson 4. FG 17. FT 8-12. F 17. (3-pointers: Smith 2, Zamarron, Franklin. Fouled out: Moss).
Cuba 2 5 – 7
Houston 7 8 – 15
HOUSTON (15) – Kyle Mills 3. Evan Fisher 2. Jacob Moseley 7. Tristan Lier 3. FG 6. FT 2-5. F 4. (3-pointers: Lier. Fouled out: none).