The El Campo Ricebirds (9-3) came one point from tying their season-high offensive output Monday afternoon.
A majority of Ricebird starters only played two quarters, the first and the third, but that’s all El Campo needed, quickly dispensing of the Bay City Blackcats 77-58 on the road.
The win for El Campo was their ninth of the season, the most for a Ricebird team since 2016. The success for El Campo in the preseason is impressive, but with one district win in the last three seasons, the goal is winning in January when district begins.
“We’re almost to where we need to be,” Ricebirds coach Kevin Lewis said. “I’m happy to win nine games, but it doesn’t mean anything if we don’t win district games.”
As part of the Lewis plan to be ready for district, Monday’s game featured a heaping handful of bench players picking up minutes against the Blackcats.
The Ricebirds starters were on pace to score 104 points Monday afternoon. However, the bench played almost entirely in the second and fourth quarters, leaving the starters on the bench rooting for threes or drives to the basket.
Against Bay City, it was a tale of two quarters.
In the first and third, El Campo’s starters, through defensive pressure and a heavy dose of senior post Reagan Spenrath built large leads. In the second and fourth quarters, The bench gave up points and runs to Bay City, but not enough to overtake the Ricebirds.
Spenrath closed the first quarter with a dunk, cementing El Campo’s dominance early. Leading 25-7, with nine seconds left El Campo drove the length of the court after a Bay City made free throw. At the three-point line, freshman La’Darian Lewis passed to Spenrath at the free-throw. With three seconds left, Spenrath pump-faked, drawing the Bay City defender to jump. Spenrath ran past him and threw down a two-handed dunk as time expired in the quarter.
The Ricebird senior post finished one rebound shy of a double-double, picking up 25 points, nine rebounds and two blocks in two-quarters of work.
Bay City opened the third quarter with back-to-back threes to pull within 10 points. After an El Campo turnover, Bay City scored on a short jumper to make it 39-31, the closest they’d get Monday.
Spenrath scored on a putback and sophomore guard Rueben Owens II connected on a three after a Blackcat turnover to extend El Campo’s lead to 13 points. The Ricebirds closed the quarter on an 18-3 run.
Lewis worked with both the bench and the starters Monday. The freshmen filled the stat sheet with 11 points, eight steals, six assists and four rebounds. The bench did not score much, contributing 12 points, but the playing time was valuable.
“I’m not really worried about (the starters), I just want to get the whole group better,” Lewis said. “We could have put up a 100, but where would we be at the end of the day if the bench isn’t getting experience.”
The Ricebirds now will enjoy a holiday break. El Campo will return to action on Dec. 30 and play Schulenburg at Ricebird Gym at noon.