ANNA — The long, tall, 17-win Bonham Warriors came out strong against Anna on Tuesday, Jan. 16, and finished with a 58-39 district win at Anna High School. Up, 30-6, by halftime the Warriors maintained control the rest of the way though the Coyotes scrapped back in the second half.


“I thought when we came out we were a little tight — when you score six points in the first half, obviously,” Anna head coach Kyle Phifer said. “We had a lot of open shots we didn’t hit, some layups that didn’t fall. I think if you hit some of those it takes some of the pressure off. The longer it went the more pressure it added to us. In the second half, we were able to see one or two go in and we relaxed and just played.”


Guards Gavin Reno and Bullet Geer led Anna (0-2) with 11 and 10 points, respectively, while Bonham’s top scorers were guard Noah Shellman, with 15 points, and 6-7 forward Wyatt Dolberry, with 13.


“I thought Bullet, Gavin and [guard] Hunter Lebo played hard,” Phifer said. “And [forward] Jayden Rodgers did some things there at the end. He stepped up — had a couple of good finishes and rebounded the ball well for us.”


Two Coyotes were out with the flu this night, guard Micah Cotton and forward Jaedin Victorian — both of whom regularly see plenty of time. To help replenish the ranks, Phifer brought up guard Mason Warren from the JV squad. Bonham ISD has been especially hard-hit by the flu — shutting down its schools for a week — but the Warriors’ second-year head coach Scott Ellis said he was only missing one player versus Anna.


Bonham (1-1) lost its district-opener to Celina, 50-45, on Jan. 12. “I was looking for our team to bounce back from our loss on Friday,” Ellis said. “We were focusing on playing good defense and just locking up. My team did that — just played fundamental basketball there from the start.”


With that 30-6 lead at the break, Ellis said he wanted his team to remain “focused and conservative.” “We’re not trying to run up the score on anybody — just take good possessions and play good man defense, and try to build a little character out there.”


The Warriors led, 15-6, after one quarter then poured it on in the second, holding the Coyotes scoreless. Early in the third stanza, Geer’s jumper in the lane ended Anna’s scoring drought. Reno soon swished two deep 3s, with a Geer drive to the hoop for 2 sandwiched between. With two minutes left in the third the Coyotes trailed, 39-16.


In the fourth frame, Bonham kept up the pressure with two treys to lead, 49-20. Anna’s answer included a driving layup from Rodgers and 3s from Lebo, Reno and Jackson Vandagriff.


As the clock ticked under a minute, Vandagriff rejected a Warrior’s shot near the basket and with 30 seconds left Reno dove to the floor for a steal and got the ball to Rodgers who laid it in for the game’s final points.


Phifer remained upbeat about his Coyotes as they endure a challenging season. “They’re playing for four quarters, they always compete,” he said. “They didn’t take any plays off, they didn’t give up. That’s a good thing.”


Anna scoring: Gavin Reno 11, Bullet Geer 10, Hunter Lebo 7, Jayden Rodgers 6, Jackson Vandagriff 5.