| Abilene Reporter-News
The wins keep coming for the Abilene High boys basketball team as it held off Wylie 50-45 at Eagle Gym on Saturday.
It was the fifth-straight win for the Eagles (5-1) who have been perfect since dropping their season opener. The win came despite AHS making only three 3-pointers in the game.
“I think it’s one of those games where experienced teams, like we have, find a way to win against a tough team even when you don’t shoot it great,” Abilene High coach Justin Reese said. “For us in the past, there’s been games where we haven’t shot it great and it cost us and it’s nice to have a team that’s mature enough to find a way to win and get stops when you need to even when you struggle from the 3-point line.”
Meanwhile, it was another close loss for the Bulldogs (1-4) against a good team. Wylie took an early blow as Avery Brekke picked up his second foul and had to go to the bench with 4:36 left in the first quarter.
He committed his third foul with 5:45 left in the half with Bulldogs down three. They were able to keep things close, trailing just 26-19 at the break.
“Today we had to battle foul trouble with Avery,” Ruffin said. “That’s hard when we lose him because he’s our only big, true post right now. I thought we did a good job in the first half of guys coming in and filling that spot and keeping us in the game. It would have been real easy for Abilene High to get about a 20-point lead on us, but we were able to keep it at seven at the half. … We’ve been in a lot of close games, we’ve got to figure out how to get over that hump.”
When they were in the game at he same time, it was a battle of the posts between the 6-foot-6 Brekke and Abilene High’s Nathan Watts, who is listed at 6-8. Brekke finished with 10 points while Watts had six.
“I think they’re both really good post players,” Ruffin said. “That’s what we preach to Avery, you can’t back down against kids, you’ve got to go at them. He just got into foul trouble which kind of messes with your psyche a little bit, but I thought both of them did a good job when they were in there.”
Brekke and Watts are a bit of a throwback in their style of play, making the two a must-watch when on the court at the same time.
“They’re both really good players and both give each other trouble on the offensive end,” Reese said. “Both kids are really good with their back to the basket, which is unusual in the high school game these days. So both teams were trying to limit touches in the post and I thought both played really well.”
Jackson Stevens and D.J. Modest led the Eagles with 12 points each while Jalen McGee chipped in with nine on a night when shots just weren’t falling.
So, Abilene High turned to its defense. The Eagles forced turnovers and contested shots throughout the game. It was the play of a mature, veteran team playing for the second time in less than 24 hours.
“We played really hard defensively for the second game in a row,” Reese said. “To do that after a tough game against Peaster (Friday) night. I was proud of our kids for their effort defensively.”
Wylie’s Dylan Jennings led with a game-high 14 points to go with Brekke’s 10 while Noah Phillips added nine.
After Saturday, three of Wylie’s four losses have been by five points or fewer, including one in overtime. While the results aren’t there yet, the Bulldogs are getting chances to work on situations that could be beneficial when district play rolls around.
“You’re trying to get yourself prepared for when you get into district, that you’ve seen lots of situations,” Ruffin said. “We’ve been in close games where we have a chance to, maybe, run a play at the end so we can learn from that and work on that kind of stuff. Right now you want to win the games, but you want to get better. You’re not going to get better unless you play games that are close and you’ve got a chance to work on things.”
As preparations for district continue, every game is a chance. And in a year where nothing is guaranteed, the Eagles are trying to make the most of each opportunity.
“I think the key this year is to just enjoy every game and be grateful for it,” Reese said. “I know that sounds cliche, but 2020. Do we get to play another game Tuesday? Hopefully. And if we do, let’s have fun, fly around, get after it, enjoy it. Our kids play basketball because it’s fun, so every game we get is a gift for these kids this year. We’re hoping to play Midland Christian on Tuesday, another really good team, get after it and compete and let the chips fall where they may.”
Abilene High 50, Wylie 45
Wylie 8 11 9 17—45
AHS 13 13 9 15—50
WYLIE (1-4) — Noah Phillips 3 3-4 9, Luke Powell 1 0-0 3, Colby Tanner 2 1-2 5, John Nduwimana 0 0-0 0, Dylan Jennings 6 14, Mark Farkhoury 0 0-0 0, Avery Brekke 5 0-0 10, Reagan Fulenwider 0 0-0 0, Harrison Heighten 2 0-0 4. Totals 19 4-6 45.
ABILENE HIGH (5-1) — Kelton Jackson 1 3-3 5, Alex Hoppe 1 0-0 2, Jalen McGee 4 0-0 9, A.J. Washington 0 0-0 0, Sami Kanayo 1 0-0 2, Jackson Stevens 4 4-4 12, Jake Breckenridge 0 2-2 2, D.J. Modest 5 2-5 12, Nathan Watts 3 0-1 6. Totals 19 11-15 50.
3-Point Goals — Wylie 3 (Powell, Jennings 2), Abilene High 3 (McGee, Stevens 2). Total Fouls — Wylie 17, Abilene High 14.Fouled Out — Wylie: Brekke. Technical Fouls — None.