HS Basketball: Rattlers derailed

San Marcos junior Josh Coleman tries to drive past Wagner’s Tyler Collins during Friday night’s 65-62 loss to the Thunderbirds at The Snake Pit (Photo by Gerald Castillo).

The Snake Pit was filled with a loud and vocal crowd in Tuesday night’s District 25-5A first-place showdown between San Marcos and San Antonio-Wagner. And while the game didn’t end favorably for SMHS, the large gathering saw the Rattlers make strong run at Wagner, despite trailing by 16 at the half.

But questionable late calls, combined with San Marcos’ inability to convert on a pair of game-tying opportunities in the final seconds, allowed Wagner to hang on for a 65-62 win. It was San Marcos’ first district loss at home, allowing Wagner to remain in a first-place tie with Converse-Judson.

“We had a shot at the end, and I told the kids that as long as we have a chance at the end, I’m proud of them.” SMHS head coach David Norris said. “We were down by 16 at the half and were able to fight back to within two. We had them on the ropes, but we just couldn’t finish it.”

The Rattlers looked as if they were going to knot the score with less than a minute remaining when Isaiah Brown broke free on transition for what looked to be an easy basket. Brown was seemingly fouled while going up for the shot, but no call was made.

San Marcos (16-14, 6-3) seemed to have gotten a break on the ensuing inbound when the ball bounced out of bounds off a Wagner defender with 12 seconds remaining, but possession was given to the Thunderbirds (21-11, 7-2), forcing the Rattlers to foul immediately.

Dominic Guzman made four free throws in a span of four seconds to give Wagner a 64-60 lead, before Josh Coleman canned two shots from the line to pull the Rattlers within 64-62. The Thunderbirds went up by three after Clint Lewis made one of two shots with 4.2 seconds remaining from the charity stripe.

With no time outs, San Marcos quickly moved the ball down court, eventually settling Brandon Coleman’s one-handed, 3-point shot which bounced off the back of the rim as time expired.

“Those were some tough calls right at the end,” Norris said. “But that’s basketball, and they saw it the other way. It’s just tough for that to happen at the end.”

Wagner was on fire in the first half, hitting seven 3-pointers, including a half-court buzzer beater at the end of the second quarter. San Marcos, on the other hand, didn’t help its cause by making only 4-of-13 from free-throw line in the first half.

“Free-throw shooting really came back to bite us tonight. We have been able to pull these kind of games out even with (poor free-throw shooting), but this is one of those games where we couldn’t pull it out,” Norris said “If we make our free throws in the first half, it doesn’t get to 16. And if we make them in the second half we go ahead of these guys.”

Wagner’s Tyler Collins led all scorers with 20 points, including three treys, while Guzman also had three, 3-pointers to finish with 16.

Alex Frye and Josh Coleman led the Rattlers with 14 points each, while Michael Hicks posted 13, including two 3-pointers.

Converse-Judson’s win over New Braunfels-Canyon eliminated any chances of the Rattlers sharing the district title, but the playoffs still lie ahead after Tuesday’s district finale at New Braunfels-Canyon. San Marcos will face a team from 26-5A with the time and location to be determined.

“I told them how I have seen the teams in the other district and all four are just as good ours. It doesn’t matter who we face, we will have our work cut out for us,” Norris said. “We just have to try and finish this thing on a positive note on Tuesday.”