HS Boys Basketball: Grizzlies Punctuate Senior Night with Win over Conroe

By: Jake Wilson
| Published 01/31/2024


SPRING, TX -- The Grand Oaks Grizzlies (19-15) outlasted the visiting Conroe Tigers (15-13) 58-51 as part of the team’s Senior Night festivities.

The Grand Oaks gym was packed with supportive families, students, and friends of the players on the floor, and they made their presence known from the opening tip.

Stomps and chants permeated around the court and fueled the efforts of the young men trying to make one last impact on their beloved program.

Grand Oaks felt the most immediate impact of this support, letting shots fly on their offensive possessions. Threes and long-distance jumpers were the cornerstones of the Grizzlies' attack throughout the first quarter.

At best, Conroe’s response was minimal, with their shooters being silent during the opening eight minutes. The expected scoring support from Gary Lewis was not felt by the Tigers due to a restrictive double team that kept him contained for most of the quarter.

In an exclusive interview with The Woodlands Online Sports, Grand Oaks Head Coach Michael Day laid out his team’s preparation surrounding the explosive scorer.

“I don’t know if you can contain a guy like Gary Lewis,” said Day. “We knew we had to make him play outside as opposed to in because he is such a load with the second and third shots he gets.”

Lewis and the Tigers did find some success toward the end of the first, with offensive rebounding being the catalyst behind their score. Their minor surge saw them end the first quarter with a 14-9 deficit.

Conroe’s first-quarter momentum tapered off to start the second. A fresh Grand Oaks attack recaptured the team’s previous offensive swagger by resuming their shooting effort. The Tigers were caught pinned inside the paint and unable to defend the perimeter shooters for Grand Oaks.

The separation continued to widen because of another minor scoring drought from Conroe. Points had to be earned at the free-throw line or on rough drives to the basket toward the Grand Oaks’ big men.

The Conroe drivers were fearless in their dribbles to the bucket, and kick-out opportunities began to present themselves to the Tigers as the quarter ticked on.

But despite the ruthless attack on offense, Conroe gradually slipped away on the scoreboard, finding themselves down 30-21 going into the half.

“It was not just one guy,” said Day on his team’s first-half effort. “Our guys responded well to them, and when I look at the scoresheet, I bet it was pretty balanced.”

The third quarter got off to a slow start due to the teams combining for nine points in the first three minutes. The quick-shooting offense that defined Grand Oaks in the first half was neutralized by a Conroe zone that emphasized pressure on shooters and switched inside.

Grand Oaks responded with a full-court press that attempted to slow Conroe’s pace by prolonging their possessions. The strategy worked briefly, but the Tigers quickly adjusted and began breaking it.

The Grizzlies’ saving grace throughout the third was their rebounding game. Fundamental box-outs gave the team separation to secure the ball before a shot or transition opportunity led to efficient points.

Both teams fought and scrapped to inch in either direction on the scoreboard, but the balanced scoring meant no significant head weight was gained. The Tigers did slim down their deficit by one point, but their best effort would need to come in the fourth if they hoped to salvage a comeback.

Conroe’s potential comeback push started with another change in the defensive formation to a high one-two-two zone. The change backfired upon its reveal, giving up back-to-back makes to the Grizzlies in under a minute.

Head Coach Daryl Mason called a timeout to refocus his team in the critical moment, but the issues continued to pile up at the worst possible moment. More misses meant wasted possessions for Conroe, who had to rack up points in bulk to draw even.

With the pressure on the Tigers, Grand Oaks slowed the offense drastically from the pace that fueled the team in the early going. Possessions took 30 to 45 seconds off the clock and gave little time for Conroe to build up momentum down the stretch.

Size and a veteran presence kept the Grizzlies level-headed during crunch time. On a night when their contributions were celebrated, the seniors stepped up.

“Those guys are awesome, and I cannot say enough great things about them,” said Day about his seniors. “Dom was a big spark and a fan favorite. Jaden hit a big three, and these guys contributed when it mattered most, and I’m so proud.”

The seconds continued to tick away from Conroe, with the team still lacking the offensive traction it needed. The Tigers pushed the offensive transition for ponts and resorted to fouling in the final minute to get in contention.

Clutch free throws in the closing moments sealed the game for the Grizzlies, even with tempers temporarily flaring. Grand Oaks got the bounce back they were searching for with a well-earned 59-51 victory over Conroe.

“We clinched the playoffs here tonight,” said a relieved Day. “We wanted to do it here at home and in front of a great crowd where everybody always shows such great support.”

The Grizzlies will continue their march toward the playoffs with a matchup against Cleveland next Wednesday, while Conroe remains on the outside looking in. The Tigers can help their odds by defeating the Indians, too, on Saturday.

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