If Sealy head coach Ray Dabney could describe Friday’s win over Royal in one word, he’d use “Finish.”
The Tigers did just that and closed out a successful Friday night in town with three teams getting three wins at home.
It was the end of the first half of district play as each team has now seen the others once respectively and Sealy is the lone squad with sole possession of a top-four spot. Both Fulshear and Needville have only one loss and Wharton and Stafford are both even at 3-3.
The Tigers’ 4-2 mark leaves them with a stranglehold on the No. 3 seed although anything can happen in the second half of the year.
In terms of the game with Royal, the second half was a different one than the first although Sealy ended both in the lead.
An eight-point second quarter from Aidan Roberts helped the Tigers head to the locker room with a 39-30 advantage.
Coming out to start the third quarter, Sealy inflated the score to its largest of the night (16) with the first three-pointer from Reece Novicke immediately following a pair of successful free throws he got to make after a technical foul on the Falcons.
That made things 51-35 but a short rally from Royal made the score 60-53 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Falcons kept at it and cut the deficit down to just three but it was Novicke who swooped in and nailed a pair of three-balls to maintain the distance at 70-64.
Isaac Washington saw how much fun his teammate was having and got in on the fun, fully swinging the momentum to the hosts’ side where the only thing Royal could do is foul.
Novicke added another pair of free throws which served as his 21st and 22nd points on the night, 18 of which came in the second half, to help secure the third win that Friday night.
When it was all said and done the scoreboard showed a 79-69 decision in favor of Sealy, putting emphasis on that “Finish” thing coach Dabney was talking about.
He mentioned his want to keep the opponents at a distance and although they were kept at bay, there were a few moments where it did get close.
“It’s almost like a yo-yo effect,” Dabney noted. “We kept them within 10 but then that’s enough, if it hadn’t been for [Micah Glover] it would have been a blowout.”
But, the Tigers played their game which involved the high-pressure defense and ball-movement, which left Novicke with some wide-open looks that only helped build his confidence.
“They were leaving the corners open so coach just told me to run to the corner and look for the pass and it was there,” he said simply.
From there the shots just kept falling and that was all the team had to see to know they had it in the bag.
“We were in a good rhythm we were playing loose,” Novicke said. “I think that was a big thing, we weren’t trying to force it we were letting it come to us and see what they were giving to us to take advantage.”
It’s that kind of mentality that coach Dabney hopes to carry along for the next round of district matchups as he knows the kind of play his squad can produce.
“We can play with anyone if we put our mind to it,” Dabney said. “If we do that we take people out of where they’re supposed to be … We just gotta play our ball and that should take care of itself.”