HS Hoops: Rebels keep pace in 27-4A

BUDA — Coaches choose captains for a reason. When it boils down to it, each player selected above the rest is picked for their leadership.
On Tuesday night, Hays senior forward Steven Jass proved why his head coach, Dean McMullen, named him captain before the season began.
With the Rebels needing a win to stay in the thick of the playoff chase, Jass stepped up. Jass scored 10 of his team-high 21 points in the fourth quarter and led Hays to a 79-73 win over Seguin.
“We just knew we had to win, so we played our hearts out,” Jass said. “It was all about effort.”
Victory wasn’t just an option for the Rebels against the Matadors. It was the only choice.
Hays lost three out of its last four games and entered Tuesday night’s game in a three-way tie for third place in District 27-4A. Boerne-Champion, Kerville-Tivy and the Rebels all owned a 5-4 league record.
Seguin sat one game behind in sixth, but Hays knew how tough the Matadors could be. Just 25 days earlier, the Rebels and Matadors went back and forth in Seguin and McMullen’s bunch emerged with a 69-68 win.
Like the first meeting, Hays seemingly broke the game open with a big third quarter. The Rebels couldn’t miss, as they reeled off a 25-point third period with four 3-pointers and 14 combined points from sophomore guard Nate Alvarado and junior guard Jacob Rodriguez.
“We focus on the third quarter and our guys came out and executed pretty well,” McMullen said. “We extended the lead and we needed that, especially once they extended the pressure.”
Hays knew the Matadors would make a run and they did just that, using their full-court press in the fourth quarter. Seguin forced several turnovers early in the final period that led to and-one opportunities, of which it made two in a row.
As the Matadors threatened the Rebels’ lead, that’s when Jass took over. Jass fought his way through Seguin’s defense and scored Hays’ first 10 points of the fourth quarter, which included a steal and a layup to put the hosts back up 68-62.
“I didn’t even know how well I was doing out there,” Jass said. “All I wanted to do was make sure that we won.”
The Rebels have four games left in the regular season and need big performances in each one if they want to make a return trip to the playoffs. Last year, Hays snapped an 11-year postseason drought as it advanced to the area round.
“We’re not satisfied with just making it again,” Jass said. “We want to make sure we have a good seed when we get there and we can see what happens.”