By Tony Adams
The Belton Tigers’ boys basketball, fresh off of the Christmas break, played in the three-day, M.T. Rice Tournament at Midway High School in Hewitt.
On Thursday, the Tigers were matched up with Austin Bowie. Kody Potvin drained a 3-pointer, Ruban Freeman popped a 12-foot jumper and Jackson McGowan converted a pair a free throws. Bowie led Belton 11-7 at the end of the first quarter.
Logan Zwerneman hit a 3-pointer, spurring a Tiger 10-2 covering the first 3:23 of the second quarter to give Belton a 17-13 lead. Bowie hit a pair of jumpers towards the end of the half, as the teams were tied at 17-17.
The Tigers’ started slowly in the second half, falling prey to a 9-2 run in the first 3:30. Braden Hammond was able to drop in eight points to pull Belton back to a two-point deficit, trailing 32-30 at the end of the third quarter.
Belton went cold from the field shooting in the fourth quarter and Bowie took advantage with a 12-1 over 5:35 to take a commanding 44-31 lead. Potvin and Jordan Russell hit shots to pull the Tigers within five points at 44-39. But foul trouble let Bowie out the door with five free throws and a 10-point victory 49-39.
On Friday, Belton took on Georgetown East View. Belton had successful first quarter, in which they trailed only 29-25 at the half. East View was able to hold Belton at bay and win 60-51, dropping the Tigers to 0-2 in pool play.
On Saturday morning, the Tigers took on the McKinney Lions in the final game in pool play.
Jackson McGowan helped get the Tigers out to a 6-6 tie. EJ Clark hit six straight points for the Lions and 13-7 stretch to end the quarter giving McKinney a 19-13 lead. McGowan had eight points.
McGowan came up big for the Tigers in the second quarter, picking up another eight points and helping the Tigers get to within two points at 25-23 at halftime.
Clark and Marcus Cross was an army of two for McKinney in the third quarter. The pair scored 16 of the team’s 18 points in the quarter. The Tigers only mustered nine points in the frame and trailed 43-32.
The Tigers and Lions traded buckets for the entire fourth quarter and Belton was unable to make up ground, while falling into serious foul trouble. McGowan fouled out with 6:19 left in the game with 18 points and Potvin fouled out with 1:23. In the end, Belton fell 59-49.
The loss dropped the Tigers into a bracket game with Waco University. The teams played in Belton on Dec. 3 with the Trojans registered a 58-50 win over the Tigers.
The Tigers got off to a good start and played lights out defense. In the end, the Tigers avenged their earlier loss with a 33-28 victory over the Trojans.
Belton is now 5-11 on the season and is 1-1 heading back into District 8-5A play. The Tigers travel to Killeen to take on the Roos at 5 p.m. Friday afternoon.