A basket for the other team tipped-off the 2006 second- and third-grade Hoopster post-season tournament Wednesday night at the East Lawrence Center.
After getting the opening tip, Gator Jay Dineen took the ball to the hoop; unfortunately it was at the Yellow Jackets' end of the court. While the score put the Yellow Jackets on the scoreboard first, the Gators controlled the game and advanced to the next round of the tournament with a 29-10 win.
"Going in the game we were coming off a loss, but after tonight's win, we are hot right now and fired up to make a run in the tournament," Gator coach Joe Dineen said.
The game started off sloppy for both teams as each squad turned it over twice and missed a few easy buckets before they settled down.
Collin McKee took control for the Gators, slowing the tempo of the game and setting up a play that allowed him to drive into the lane for the lay-up for his team's first points. McKee turned around and got a steal, passing it upcourt to Dineen for another bucket. Sam Stephens added a long two and within seconds the Gators jumped out to a 6-2 lead.
Winston Wiebe stepped up for the Yellow Jackets with a rebound and putback to give the Jackets life heading into the second quarter.
Right away Wiebe and Robert Newman hustled to wrestle for a jumpball. The arrow was in favor of the Yellow Jackets, and Wiebe turned the advantage in to points tying the game at six-all.
Solid defense on both ends kept the score knotted before Gator Dillon Schroeder got a rebound and threw a long pass down court to Dineen, who banked a shot off the backboard and was fouled. With the made free throw the Gators went up by three and never looked back as they took a 11-6 advantage heading into the break.
McKee picked up the Gators' intensity after the half getting a steal, offensive rebound and a quick two points.
The Yellow Jackets were plagued in the second half by missed shots, poor rebounding, and turnovers.
With Gator Trevor Munsch, a strong offensive contributer, not in attendance, McKee stepped up along with Dineen.
"All the kids stepped in to fill his spot," coach Dineen said. "We adapted well to the situation and found some ways we could get the ball in the basket. I mean we really wanted to win this game."
McKee continued to shine, getting a putback and adding another bucket to extend the Gator lead to double digits.
"It feels really good to win," McKee said after his 10-point effort. "I am just glad that I was able to step up tonight and help my team win."
It was all McKee and the Gators the rest of the game, with baskets coming from Schroeder and McKee to push the lead to 15 going in to the fourth.
Working on the offensive boards, Zakary McAlister got the rebound after two Yellow Jacket shots rolled out of the rim and passed it to Wiebe for the first Yellow Jackets' points of the second half.
But four quick Gator baskets from Austin Kastl, Kobe Buffalomeat, Schroeder, and McKee squashed any hopes of a Yellow Jacket comeback.
McAlister made a lay-up as time expired, but it was too little, too late for the Yellow Jackets, who fall to the losers bracket of the post-season tournament.
Coach Dineen knows that the kind of defensive effort the Gators displayed in the second half, holding the Yellow Jackets scoreless in the third quarter and only allowing four points in the second half, will need to be present in tonight's match-up with the undefeated Terrapins - who have beaten their opponents by an average of 27 points a game.
"We plan to spread it out to create some opportunities for us to score," Dineen said. "Our defense will have to be better than the last time we played the Terrapins."