The El Campo Ricebird (1-3) defense for the final eight minutes played like a swarm of Africanized bees.
The Ricebirds turned an eight-point fourth quarter deficit into their first win of the season beating the Needville Bluejays 46-43 at home Tuesday afternoon.
With football season officially over, the Ricebirds had their full team on hand to play the Bluejays. The defense in the fourth quarter was intense as they forced Needville into turnover after turnover.
Senior guard Charles Shorter forced a team-high six steals. As a defensive unit, the Ricebirds overall forced 23 steals allowing Needville only two points in the fourth quarter.
“It was amazing,” Ricebirds coach Kevin Lewis said. “I wish we could have started the game off like that, but we got into a groove defensively and we were aggressive. Moving forward, that’s how I want to start the game off. That was a pressing and smoothing defense that’s a hard-nosed team that I want us to be.”
Junior Isaiah Anderson, senior Charles Shorter and sophomore Rueben Owens II came from football to help the Ricebirds grab their first win.
“They brought a different level of intensity and were scrappy, getting after it. They were fighting for every loose ball,” Lewis said.
In the fourth quarter, El Campo chipped away at Needville’s lead. The Ricebirds’ defense turned into easy layups on offense. Shorter on back-to-back possessions stole the ball from Needville and hit wide-open players on the other side of the court. Junior Trinceton Foley on the second of Shorter’s steals, threw down a slam dunk to make the game 46-41.
Needville’s only points of the quarter came late to make it a three-point game. Needville on their final possession with six seconds left, brought the ball in, only for Anderson to steal it instantly to seal the win.
The Bluejays started the game hot connecting on three three-pointers and took a 16-12 lead. The Ricebirds offense hung with Needville but couldn’t overtake them until the defense picked up and started to force turnovers.
Senior Reagan Spenrath led the Ricebirds with 11 points. Foley chipped in another eight points.
Shorter scored six points, but Lewis was complementary of his presence on the court to close out the game.
Last year Needville was a district opponent and beat El Campo by double-digit points in their two losses.
El Campo will be back in action Dec. 4. when they play Rice Consolidated at Ricebird Gym.