The Bulldogs attacked the basket with relentless tenacity on homecoming last Friday in Quitman and it paid off with a 66-55 victory over Hector in the 4-2A East Conference opener.
Quitman Coach Jeff Adams said his team came together and played as one unit.
“We've been talking about during the week that we are a lot better as a team rather than individuals trying to play. Tonight we had four near double figures, so we came together and played together as a team and knocked down some free throws down the stretch.”
The Bulldogs led 15-9 after the first quarter as point guard Chase Stewart and power forward Hunter Martin each scored four points, while guard Cutler Stewart drilled a three-pointer and forward Chase Freeman and power forward Ty Davis each recorded a bucket.
Both teams exchanged baskets throughout a fast-paced second quarter as Quitman eventually outscored the Wildcats 21-19 behind six points from Chase Stewart and five more from Martin and reserve guard Dakota Bohannan, who drilled a three-pointer from left corner for a 28-19 lead.
Hector stayed within striking distance with the help of point guard Hunter Davis, who scored 17 points in the first half, including 11 in the second quarter. Davis and Chase Stewart traded a pair of free throws late in the first half, leaving the Bulldogs with a 36-28 lead at intermission.
Forward JW Mackey opened the third quarter with a stick back for the Wildcats but Quitman responded with a 9-2 spurt, starting with a rebound bucket by swingman Hunter Bridges.
Chase Stewart then made 3 of 4 free throws, while Mackey canned two from the charity stripe for the Wildcats before Freeman pulled down a defensive rebound and drove coast-to-coast for a layup.
Chase Stewart added a tear-drop in the lane as Quitman's lead grew to 45-32, but Hector guard Jacob Chisum fired back with a three-pointer from left elbow. After Quitman power forward Larry Pool hit a free throw, Davis slashed down left baseline for a layup and Mackey recorded a putback, cutting the Bulldogs' lead to seven at 46-39.
In the closing seconds of the third period, Bohannan drained a three-pointer from left corner, giving Quitman a 49-39 lead entering the final eight minutes of play.
Hector guard Chandler Stanek, who scored all seven of his points in the fourth quarter, opened the fourth quarter with an 18-foot pull up jumper from left wing.
Over the next minute, Quitman tightened up on defense and continued to attack the basket and draw contact as Freeman and Chase Stewart each made two free throws and Bridges added another from the stripe.
Trailing 53-41, Hector's comeback hopes took a serious hit when Ty Davis drew a charge on Hunter Davis, forcing the Wildcats to find a replacement for their leading scorer.
Page 2 of 2 - “He is a sophomore and that's one thing he has done over the past two years,” said Adams. “He is not scared to take a charge and he stepped up big for us tonight.”
However, with their leading scorer on the pine with five fouls, the Wildcats managed to trim their deficit to single digits with an old-fashioned three-point play from Stanek, bucket from left block by power forward Daniel Lott and pull up jumper in the lane by Mackey.
Clinging to a 54-48 lead, Quitman slammed the door with a 4-0 spurt as Chase Stewart split a trap and hit Martin for a layup, then Bohannan found Bridges cutting backside for another layup, pushing the Bulldogs' lead back to double figures with just over two minutes remaining.
Hector (2-5, 0-1) never seriously threatened thereafter as the Bulldogs hit 4 of 4 free throws in the final minute while claiming a 66-55 victory.
Davis paced Hector with 19 points, including 17 in the first half, while Mackey added 15 points and Stanek had seven.
Chase Stewart led Quitman with 19 points, Freeman followed with 12 points, Martin added 11 points and 14 rebounds, while Bohannan finished with eight points.
“Chase [Stewart] is a pretty good ballplayer for us when we can keep him under control,” said Adams. “He showed why tonight by making free throws when he got fouled.
“[Chase] Freeman has been a consistent scorer for us this year and got some big rebounds and played good defense tonight. He pretty much has the green light. Hunter Martin picked up two fouls early so we had to sit him a little bit but before that he got several big putbacks. He had a big night tonight,” added Adams.