ANNA — After a sluggish first quarter, Anna’s Coyotes (10-5) erupted to take an 18-point second-half lead then held off Lake Worth’s late rally for a 56-48 win at home on Sat., Dec. 17. Senior Dillon Lewis and senior Elijah Smith each collected 14 points to lead Anna scorers, with senior Keamoni Mattocks finding the net for 13. Lewis also got above the rim for dunks twice in the second half.
The Bullfrogs (6-10) fought back from a 46-28 fourth-quarter deficit to trail by four with under two minutes left to play. But Mattocks would drive the lane for two and, with 23 seconds left, Smith would sink two free throws to provide the Coyotes’ winning eight-point margin.
Anna’s shots weren’t falling early on and the Coyotes trailed, 17-13, after one stanza. Meanwhile in that quarter, Lake Worth banged home three 3-pointers — two back-to-back from the corner by Jeremiah Garcia and one from the top of the key by Raymond Martinez. Garcia went on to tally a game-high 19 points.
“I thought we were very lethargic in the first quarter,” Anna head coach Kyle Phifer said. “We weren’t real urgent. We gave up three 3s just due to standing around, not paying attention. That’s the stuff that can happen. We’ve got to be a little more focused coming out.”
He added, though, that his team was pressing.
“When you press teams you’re going to give up some 3s, and they were getting them early in their offense — which isn’t always a great thing for an offense. So we were OK with it. We knew that eventually they would quit hitting their shots, and you saw in the second and third (quarters) they did.”
Lake Worth was held to five and six points, respectively, in those decisive frames.
Down five points, 22-17, in the second quarter, Smith started Anna’s comeback with short jumper followed by senior Donald Maloid’s steal-and-feed to Smith under the basket for an easy layup. Then, down by one with less than two minutes left before halftime, Lewis’ turn-around layup gave the Coyotes their first lead since 2-0, 23-22. A junior Hunter Lebo deep-corner 3 boosted Anna’s lead to four in the half’s finals seconds.
In the third quarter, Lewis’ first dunk of the game extended Anna’s lead to 32-22, before a Maloid 3 and a fast-break layup by Smith gave the Coyotes a 15-point margin. Another Lebo 3 and a Mattocks layup pushed the lead to 44-28 as the third quarter ended — but the Bullfrogs weren’t done. Lake Worth shooters found their 3-point range again, hitting three in the fourth quarter to get back in the game.
Phifer said he also saw some lethargy return to his charges in that final quarter.
“We quit communicating, we quit doing the little things you need to do and we let them back in the game,” Phifer said. “… I think what happened in the fourth was they were getting the same shots, we just weren’t rebounding. They were getting second and third opportunities and then they were hitting them.”