Cedar Park’s suffocating defense locked in at the perfect time Friday night.
The Timberwolves forced Connally to take a difficult 3-pointer with less than five seconds left to hold on for a 52-51 win against the Cougars at home to push their district winning streak to three games.
“We got as big as we could,” head coach Blake Brown said. “The guards kind of locked in and we forced the kickoff and made them make a tough shot to win. The guys executed what they needed to do in that moment.”
Kason Cater hit a deep 3-pointer with just over two minutes left in the game for Cedar Park, but Connally responded with an easy put-back lay-in on the ensuing possession. Tanner Radke hit a pair of free throws to put the game away for good.
Cater and Radke each scored a game-high 15 points for the Timberwolves. Junior Josh Baker scored 13, Eric Weeks added seven points and Trey Herbstreit chipped in with two points.
Cedar Park held Connally 6-foot-8 forward Eddie Burgess to 17 points while Jamal Shead scored 16 points for the Cougars.
“We need to get better on defense, but tonight was a shining example of what we’re capable of,” Brown said. “We didn’t play any other defense besides man-to-man. If you’re in the right position, you can play defense, and we did that tonight.”
Radke scored seven points in the first quarter and the two teams finished the period tied at 16. Cedar Park drew back-to-back offensive fouls in the second quarter and pulled ahead 32-27 at the half, led by 10 points from Baker.
Connally came out of the locker room with a little more gusto and outscored Cedar Park 12-7 in the third quarter. The Timberwolves didn’t score their first field goal until there were less than six minutes left in the quarter.
With the two teams trading punches in the fourth, Connally made two of three free throws in a potentially game-tying situation before Cedar Park held on for the win tot are over sole possession of second place in the district.
“I don’t think this team lacks confidence or chemistry,” Brown said. “They enjoy every win. Whether it’s a nail-biter like this or we win by 20 and the game is over by the third quarter, they’re really excited to have that success.”
Cedar Park is on the road against Hutto next Tuesday night at 7 p.m. before playing two straight home games against Elgin and Bastrop on Jan. 12 and Jan. 16, respectively.
“Coaches have a lot of cliches, and one of them is you try to learn as much from a win as anything else,” Brown said. “It’s easy to wipe the sweat off your brown and relax and get comfortable. You’ve got to follow it up with another one.”