HHS senior Harold Lassiter makes a move toward the basket during the first quarter of the Tigers' loss to Liberty in the Mansfield Invitational. Credit: DOUG DAVISON | HOUSTON HERALD

Playing last week in the 89th annual Mansfield Invitational Tournament, the Houston High School boys basketball team suffered a trio of lopsided losses.

In the event’s four-team round-robin format, the Tigers fell 81-42 to Liberty on Tuesday, 73-20 to host Mansfield on Thursday and 80-26 to Bakserfield on Friday.

In the Tuesday contest, Liberty led 36-10 at the end of the first quarter. With bench players getting in lots of minutes, the Eagles outscored the Tigers 45-32 the rest of the way.

Junior guard Terrell Gaines scored a game-high 34 points for Liberty, while senor guard Drew Ripko had 30. During the Eagles’ early scoring binge, Ripko drilled five 3-pointers in the first period and had 24 points at halftime, while the speedy Gaines hit three treys in the first half and already had 29 points at the break.

Eight players scored for Houston in the game. Senior center Harold Lassiter sank five shots from short range and finished with 10 points, while sophomore forward Brady Brookshire had 9, freshman guard DJ Riley had 6 and junior forward Stone Jackson added 5.

Liberty’s starting lineup included four upperclassmen, while Houston’s included only two.

In the game against Mansfield, the host Lions benefited from major experience and height advantages, as they took the floor with a roster featuring six seniors and five juniors, and nine players at least 6-feet tall (including three at 6-4 or taller).

HHS freshman forward Riley Reed goes up for a shot in front of Liberty junior Carter Pruett during the first quarter of the Tigers’ loss in last week’s Mansfield Invitational.

The Tigers trailed 26-5 at the end of the first quarter and 44-11 at halftime in the contest. Jackson, Riley and sophomore guard Jordan Arthur each score 6 points for Houston.

Bakersfield had a younger lineup (with five juniors and no seniors), but jumped out to a 26-4 lead in the first period and held a 55-12 advantage at the break.

Lassiter scored 11 points in the contest, while Riley had 5 and Brookshire added 4.

The Tigers added to their own woes by committing numerous turnovers in all three contests.

“We’ve got to take care of the ball better,” said HHS head coach Jim Moore. “We turned the ball over so many times and created layups and easy points for the other team, and we put ourselves behind right away and were always trying to dig out of a hole.”

One positive note from the three games was that halftime adjustments yielded decent results.

HHS boys head coach Jim Moore talks with the Tigers during a timeout in last week’s game against Liberty.

“The second half was better for us in every one of those games,” Moore said. “We moved the basketball better and got some gooks looks. Really, we had good looks all week, they just didn’t fall.”

The Tigers also allowed far too many second-chances in all three outings.

“We just have to rebound the ball better,” Moore said.

This week, Houston (0-6) plays Friday at Plato and against Lesterville Saturday at the annual Bunker Shootout. The Tigers host only their second home game of the season Tuesday against Licking.

“There’s progress being made,” Moore said. “We’re young and we’re going to make mistakes, but we have to grow from it and learn from it, and try to continue to develop.”

Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Contact him by phone at 417-967-2000 or by email at ddavison@houstonherald.com.

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