It’s still early in the basketball season, but the Tolar Rattlers have already been through changes and ups and downs.
But they have remained undefeated, and may have posted their best game so far on Saturday night when they ran away with the Dublin Athletic Booster Club Touranment championship, thumping Clifton 51-29 in the final.
Tolar head coach Kent Caruthers said it was probably a better performance than the Rattlers’ season opener against Lipan in which they had a red-hot shooting night.
“I think overall it was (our best game),” said Caruthers, whose team is now 5-0. “Overall offensively and defensively it was probably a better game.”
The Rattlers, who started the tournament with a 36-35 squeaker over Class A Zephyr, won the tournament for the first time in school history, Caruthers said.
“We’ve been to the finals over here several times. We just never won it,” he said. “It’s nice to finally win it. It’s a good start.”
Zack Hasegawa and Jacob Phillips earned spots on the all-tournament team.
In the championship win over Clifton, Hasegawa scored 13 points, pumping in three baskets from 3-point range. Phillps added a dozen points and seven rebounds.
The Rattlers outscored Clifton 16-4 in the opening quarter and led 32-17 at halftime. Caruthers said seven of Clifton’s 17 points in the first half were on free throws.
We came out hot right off the bat,” Caruthers said. “We did a good job rebounding. We kept them from shooting too many close shots. We fouled them way too much.”
In the first two rounds of the tournament, Clifton defeated Dublin and Coleman. Coleman beat Early for third place.
In Tolar’s win over Zephyr, the Rattlers came dangerously close to experiencing their first loss. A Zephyr player went to the free throw line with one second to play but missed both attempts, so Tolar advanced to the semifinals.
“We just played better,” Caruthers said of the championship win over Clifton. “We did a better job of moving the ball on offense.”
Unfortunately for the Rattlers, both Justin Brown and Riley Osterman aggravated knee injuries against Clifton. Caruthers said their status for the upcoming Glen Rose tournament – which starts Thursday morning at 9 against Mineral Wells – remains to be determined.
Gideon Sanders led the Rattlers in rebounding with eight against Clifton, and Ty Johnston had a team-high five assists.
In the semifinal win over Early, Hasegawa cut loose for 23 points and Phillips added 20, plus 10 rebounds. Teammate T.J. Foster added five steals.
The teams attempted a combined total of 47 free throws. Early made 17 of 27 and Tolar was 8-of-20.
“It was uptempo,” Caruthers said of that game. “There were a lot of fouls called. The refs called it really tight.
“We shot better (than in the tournament opener, going 25-of-63 from field). We had a lot of untimely turnovers toward the end. We made some poor decisions down the stretch, which kept them right there with us.
“They were very aggressive, very athletic. We finally got to start picking up the pace a little more. We were aggressive. That part I like.”
The Rattlers had 15 turnovers in the second half.
Tolar had a poor shooting night against Zephyr. No one scored in double figures for the Rattlers.
Hasegawa, who bounced back quickly after rolling an ankle in Tolar’s previous game, scored a team-high nine points. Ty Johnston was next with eight.
Jacob Phillips paced the Rattlers in rebounding with seven.
Tolar made just 13 of 56 shots on the night.
Caruthers said Zephyr is definitely a good Class A squad, but the Rattlers were not on their game.
“It was an off night shooting,” Caruthers said. “We could not hit the broad side of a barn the first three quarters. Finally in the fourth quarter we started hitting some shots.”
Caruthers said his players recorded 16 offensive rebounds, and noted, “We may have scored on one of those.”
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Zephyr 10 4 9 12 – 35
Tolar 10 4 9 12 – 36
Tolar (3-0) scoring – Zack Hasegawa 9, Ty Johnston 8, Jacob Phillips 6, Landon Morris 5, Corbin Wood 3, Riley Osterman 3, Gideon Sanders 2.
3-pointers – Johnston 2, Hasegawa 1, Osterman 1.
Tolar free throws – 6-7.
Tolar 22 19 10 15 – 66
Early 15 21 12 16 – 64
Tolar (4-0) scoring – Hasegawa 23, Phillips 20, Wood 6, Morris 5, Osterman 5, Johnston 3, T.J. Foster 2.
Early – Dennison 20, Reno 18.
3-pointers – Hasegawa 6, Johnston 1, Osterman 1.
Free throws – Tolar 8-20, Early 17-27.
Tolar 16 16 11 8 – 51
Clifton 4 13 7 5 – 29
Tolar (5-0) scoring – Hasegawa 13, Phillips 12, Johnston 10, Sanders 7, Pruitt 3, Wood 2, Morris 2, Osterman 2.
Clifton – Thiele 8.
3 pointers – Johnston 2, Hasegawa 3, Pruitt 1.
Free throws – Tolar 5-14, Clifton 10-17.