Rouse’s claim to a district title will have to wait.
The Raiders lost for the first time in district play this season, falling at home to Connally 71-60 on Friday night. The Cougars are one game behind Rouse in District 19-5A with three games left for most teams.
“They’ve got a big advantage inside and they exploited it more tonight,” Rouse head coach Shane Krause said. “They were more physical on the interior, which loosened up our outside defense in the second half. They got good looks and hit big shot after big shot.”
Trevor Berry had a huge game for Rouse, scoring 26 points and hitting a trio of 3-pointers. Carter McMahan chipped in with 15 points and Keaton Brown finished with 10 points. Chase Reck had nine points and Sam Lacy scored one on a free throw.
They were the only four Raiders to get on the scoresheet.
“Trevor and Carter both lead by example,” Krause said. “They’re two of the most phenomenal kids I’ve seen in 13 years of coaching. We just kind of give them more opportunities and they just go with it.”
Berry converted an and-one at the very end of the first quarter to give Rouse and an 18-17 lead. After getting fouled on the initial layup, he jumped and slapped his own picture hanging on the gym wall before nailing the free throw.
McMahan — a point guard — was matched up on Connally’s 6-foot-8 junior Eddie Burgess. But the undersized senior still held his own and made hustle plays throughout the second quarter. He threw the ball off a Cougar defender on the offensive side of the floor, and the Raiders capitalized with a field goal. Rouse went into the break leading 37-35.
The Cougars came out in the second half hot from long range, outscoring the Raiders 18-10 in the third quarter and 18-13 in the fourth to hold on for the win.
“This group has got so much heart,” Krause said. “Along with playing as hard as we did, we’ve also got to make some plays and unfortunately they made more plays and hit more shots than us.”
The Raiders travels to face Hutto on Tuesday and hosts Elgin for senior day next Friday night. They end the regular season on the road against Bastrop.
Connally faces Cedar Park, Cedar Creek and Georgetown in the final three games of the regular season. Any loss by the Cougars coupled with a win by the Raiders will clinch the district title for Rouse.
“We don’t want to lose, but to go 16-0 in this type of district is difficult to do,” Krause said. “At some point, teams that are really good like Connally, they can come up and get you. We’ll learn from it and be better on Tuesday.”