In a playoff-like atmosphere on senior night at Bales Gym, the Hays Rebels boys basketball team put together a complete performance in a 61-54 victory over the Anderson Trojans.
High-energy defense and big-time plays from their senior class accentuated the team’s third straight win a row.
“It was a great win, our team played really well coming out the gate,” Hays head coach Matthew Sandoval said. “We found a way to win, and we’ve had some really good competitive practices lately. In all honesty, we are actually just keeping it really simple. Getting after each other and pushing each other, and it’s really paid off.”
Hays got a handful of strong performances from its senior group against Anderson, including tenacious play from point guard Caden Doyle who scored 21 points and had three steals.
“It meant a lot, coming into this week we had a lot to prepare for,” Doyle said. “We knew it was going to be a difficult matchup, but, I mean, just to get the victory that’s all that really matters.”
Seniors Carlos Rocha and Luke Watson also had key performances in the win for the Rebels. Rocha finished with nine points, seven rebounds and five blocks, while Watson made 15 points and five clutch free throws in the final minute of the game.
“It felt great to be able to close the game out there,” said Watson. “The game was close, it was getting a little tight, but hitting those free throws was good.”
The Rebels brought the energy early on jumping out to a 20-7 lead over Anderson in the first quarter, thanks to great passing on offense which led to all five of Hays starters scoring in the first eight minutes of the game. On defense, Hays came out in a half-court trap, which caught the Trojans off guard in the first half.
“We just wanted to show them something different out the gate, and play with a little more energy,” said Sandoval. “I thought it made a lot of a difference to start the game because it felt like they (Anderson) weren’t really prepared for it.”
Over the next three quarters, Anderson crept back into the game and eventually trimmed Hays lead to 56-52 with 1:08 left in the final frame. However, Hays sunk 10 of 16 free throws in the final minute to seal the senior night victory.
For Anderson, senior guard Max Smith led all scorers with 31 points. Senior shooting guard Blake Spiller also contributed 13 points for the Trojans.v
With the regular season coming to a close, Hays now readies for its bi-district playoff tilt against Converse Judson.
“We play Judson, but that doesn’t put any fear in our heart,” Sandoval said. “We are going to go out there and play as hard as we need to play to win the basketball game. The chips will fall where they fall.”
Hays plays Judson Feb. 25 at 7 p.m. at Seguin High.