Owls’ halftime adjustment keeps Hurricanes at bay

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Future Highlands opponents should keep one key trait the Owls showed against Sam Houston in mind. The Owls are comfortable at any tempo.

Highlands (14-6, 1-0) established a 32-20 halftime lead in the District 27-5A game, mostly through executing well in the halfcourt. In the second half, the Owls responded when Sam Houston (10-6, 1-1) pushed the pace, piling up fastbreak points to close out a 71-62 victory.

“At halftime, we made that adjustment,” Highlands coach Lorenzo Pena said. “We tried to get defensive stops and turn them into offense. We knew they’d try to hit three(-pointers) and push the ball. It just happens that Sam’s style is our style, too.”

Junior Thomas Makey scored 15 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter, when both teams scored 23 points. In the last four minutes, Makey converted a fastbreak layup off an assist from Christopher Pena (13 points, 8 assists, 5 steals) to give Highlands a 60-49 lead.

The senior point guard made a three-point basket and Makey rebounded his own miss to close out a 21-6 run early in the third quarter that gave Highlands a 14-point cushion. Sam Houston ran off the next 12 points and trailed just 37-35 with 4:19 left in the quarter when Bralyn Sanchez (9 points) scored off a steal from Tyrese Wolford (8 points).

Christopher Pena answered the bell, notching two consecutive baskets when the Hurricanes threatened to tie the score. The Owls led 48-39 heading into the last quarter.

“Chris does a really good job of taking what the defense gives him,” Lorenzo Pena said.

Sam Houston narrowed the gap to eight when DeAngeles Reed (18 points) made a three-pointer from the top of the key 10 seconds later. Four points from Isaiah Miller (19 points) put the Hurricanes within 65-59 with 58 seconds to play.

The Hurricanes defeated Brackenridge 76-62 Dec. 11 in their district opener.

“Coach (Erik) Coleman does a good job of what you want to do,” Lorenzo Pena said of his Sam Houston counterpart, “and making you play his style.”

Makey made all four free throws he tried and put in a layup off a steal by Mario Padilla in the final 50 seconds.

“We just work as a team,” the guard-forward said. “Every day in practice, we work hard. I’m proud of my brothers.”

The Highlands coach said a hidden key to the victory was Brian Curren’s defense.

“He’s a stopper,” Pena said. “He never lets you get comfortable.”

Memorial 71, Veterans Memorial 58

The Minutemen (6-14, 1-2) picked up their first District 26-5A win Dec. 14, outscoring Veterans Memorial (7-6, 2-1) 38-34 in the second half at Edgewood Gym to secure the victory.

Junior Michael McGlothlin led Memorial with 18 points. Phillip Lopez (14 points) and Jose Pimentel (13) also scored in double digits.

Southwest 72, Southside 71

The Dragons (6-10, 2-0) remained undefeated in District 28-5A with a narrow win over Southside (10-6, 1-1) Dec. 14 at Southwest.

Senior Nathan Hernandez led Southwest with 26 points. Vincent Fraga contributed 12 points and Jose Castaneda added 10.

Southside junior Steven Quintero, who scored his 1,000th career point Dec. 11 in a 71-62 win over Southwest Legacy, led all scorers with 28 points. Richard Torres (13 points) and Andrew Mendoza (10) supplied scoring support.