Pure Poetry: Memorial locks down early, downs Cy-Fair 77-66
MEMORIAL – Newman Lay standing just in front of the Memorial bench watched as everything came together in perfect harmony.
Watching Gaston Elie make smooth bounce passes across the court to a wide-open Grayson Buehler for a three, Ethan Taylor switching from his left dribble hand to his right to stretch out his 6-foot-5 frame and kiss the ball off the glass for a bucket to the defense locking down one of the hotter teams in Houston was "beautiful" to watch.
"It's a ballet offensively and a ballet dance defensively, because we're working together," Lay said after a 77-66 victory over Cy-Fair on Tuesday night. "It's five guys offensively doing their thing. Defensively, it's five guys rotating, helping and stunting – it's poetry."
Unlike their first meeting with Cy-Fair, which Memorial was able to win 54-46 to open District 17-6A play in December, the Mustangs (19-7, 8-1 in district) came out locked in from the opening tip.
The hot-hand of Taylor, who finished with a team-high 36 points and surpassed 400 points for the season, started them early. Buehler's big three's sent them to a 25-10 first-quarter lead.
"When we have the whole team going, it's a great feeling," Taylor said. "Everybody's clicking, I was going, Grayson (Buehler) was going. We had our whole team playing well. That's one of the best feelings."
Cy-Fair (18-8, 7-2), which saw its 12-game winning streak ended on Tuesday, started to climb back in the second quarter but couldn't prevent a 43-25 halftime score.
"I thought our pace offensively was better," Lay said. "The first time we played them we were slower but we were forcing shots. Today, we were faster but we were taking open shots. I thought our pace was better but secondly, our defense was really locked in. The first time we played them we didn't lock in defensively until the second half. Tonight, we locked in from the start."
Despite leading 55-40 at the end of the third quarter, Cy-Fair - behind Evan Butts' 14 points and Nik Ellis' 23 points - battled its way back to within six with two minutes to go. Clutch free throws down the stretch ended up being enough for Memorial in the 11-point victory.
"That's what we like to do, we like to share the ball as a team, get everyone involved," Elie, who finished with 19 points, said. "We have players that can put the ball in the hoop, so we just need to focus on defense. I think we can win district this year."
So, let's talk about District 17-6A.
With the win, Memorial goes a leg up on Cy-Fair for sole possession of first place at 8-1 its lone loss is to Cy Creek, while Cy-Fair falls into a tie for second with Cy Creek at 7-2 and Jersey Village is 6-3 at fourth place.
"It gives us a lot of confidence," Taylor said. "Going into the rest of our games we're going to keep that fire under us. Just try to keep it rolling through district."
With a rivalry game set up for Friday against Stratford on the horizon at the Don Coleman Coliseum, Lay doesn't want to see his team get complacent because of one big home win.
The veteran coach wants his guys to "go to bed with a smile" after this one, but in the morning, they need to wake up ready to work.
"It's time to stay hungry," Lay said. "Have confidence with what you just did because you just beat an exceptional basketball team. But now, we need to get hungry again. We need to be hungry for a long time."