A 28-point effort from junior Aidan Bailey made the difference for the Dripping Springs Tigers boys basketball team Saturday as it cruised past the Lockhart Lions 59-43 at Tiger Gym.
Bailey’s output, which was a season and career-high point total, was part of a successful perimeter shooting afternoon for the Tigers that lingered from buzzer-to-buzzer. By paying “their dues” during the offseason, Tiger head coach Craig Swannack credited his players’ accuracy to the time they put into practicing their shooting. He also lauded his team’s ability to adjust to a game pushed back roughly 15 hours due to weather.
“Every single one of those kids who is a great shooter spends a ton of their free time putting up shots,” Swannack said. “Because of that, that’s why they have the green light, those guys have my full confidence to go out and shoot because you can see it’s a big part of our game.”
Dripping Springs (12-4, 2-1) found its groove early and often from the perimeter as they knocked down five three-pointers in the first frame. Three of those three-pointers came from Bailey who tallied 11 of his 28 points in the opening quarter. Bailey hit six total three-pointers in the game.
Swannack said Bailey was a key contributor and was a pivotal cog in their offense by filling in for guard Trace Young, who did not play Saturday. As a team, Dripping Springs shot 37% from the three-point line and 48% from the field.
“He’s (Bailey) got the heart of a lion. You can see it with the way he plays,” Swannack said. “We spent a lot of time talking about being able to rise up as a group when we’re missing some people. Sure enough, Aiden was the epitome of that today with his ability to put points on the scoreboard.”
Meanwhile, Dripping Springs successfully out rebounded a tall Lockhart lineup 33-18, which included 16 offensive boards. On the opposite end, the Tiger defense limited Lockhart’s offense from finding a rhythm in the first half. Aiding the Tigers was a Lion offense that committed 25 total turnovers.
Dripping Springs led 23-10 after a quarter and maintained a 35-23 advantage at halftime.
But an early third quarter Tiger lull allowed Lockhart to bounce back into contention. Key buckets from Lion Jordan McKinney and Giovanni Roque spurred a 9-4 Lockhart run which cut the Tiger lead to 39-32.
Following a free throw from Tiger Luke Lawyer, Bailey exploded for nine points in roughly 80 seconds highlighted by a four-point play. Bailey’s outburst helped Dripping Springs build its leads to 50-35 after three quarters.
“Sometimes we can get caught scoreboard watching and realized we had a big lead. We let it evaporate today and a lot of it was execution-based,” Swannack said. “That’s something we need to polish up and something we need to work on.”
WIth the win, Dripping Springs broke out of a three-way tie for third place early in the 25-5A standings. It also eased a difficult 20-plus point midweek loss to frontrunner LBJ. As a bevy of district tests loom, Swannack said he was pleased with his team’s ability to rebound from their setback.
“One of the things we do is remain constant with our process,” Swannack said. “We’ll watch our previous game for a while and then move immediately into the next opponent. It’s key for us to be successful in a district this tough.”
Dripping Springs hosts Austin Northeast at 7 p.m. Friday.