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Photo by Drew King

San Marcos blocks out noise, takes 62-59 road win over Lake Travis

San Marcos Boys' Basketball
Saturday, February 12, 2022

AUSTIN — Practice makes progress.

San Marcos dropped a tight game to Lake Travis inside the Snake Pit less than a month ago but the Rattlers returned the favor with a 62-59 win over the Cavaliers on the road Friday. Before Friday’s game, the purple and white prepared for the type of unfriendly environment they knew they’d face. 

Drenched in highlighter-yellow safety vests, the Lake Travis student section made it a hostile atmosphere from the tip-off to the final buzzer. In the third quarter, chants of “overrated’’ rained down on Malik Presley while the four-star junior forward took a pair of free throws. But he felt comfortable blocking out the noise because of practice time — Presley knocked down both foul shots to silence the crowd.

“We actually do that, we have our guys yell ‘overrated’ when Malik and (three-star junior guard) Kaden (Gumbs) shoot free throws sometimes and different things like that,” head coach Dan Miller said. “We bump up the noise a little bit, but we just tried to get him ready for that atmosphere. And our guys, they really do a good job of being in that atmosphere and making plays. I was really proud of them tonight.”

Despite the yelling and screaming fans, the purple and white opened the game on an 11-0 run ignited by junior guard Abel Trevino, whose perimeter shooting continued to be a necessity in San Marcos’ wins this season. Two 3-pointers in opposite corners by the guard forced the defense to close out harder, opening up driving lanes for the rest of the team.

“Coach (Dan) Miller has been talking about it for the past week — not trying to do too much.” Trevino said. “I mean, believing in myself, knowing that I can shoot the ball and just finding those guys because these guys — Malik and Kaden — they’re gonna dish it out and they are very unselfish as well.”

Lake Travis (25-8, 10-3 District 26-6A) responded with a run of its own, which cut the Rattlers’ lead to three heading into the second. The hosts even stole their first lead, 27-25, with 2:17 left in the half. Junior guard Exavion Harris knocked down a 3-pointer which sent San Marcos (27-8, 10-3) into halftime with a 30-27 advantage.

Presley started the second half with a drive to his left hand ending with a layup. Lake Travis quickly responded with a score inside. Trevino made another three from the corner to give San Marcos a 37-34 lead but it didn’t last long as a transition 3-pointer by the hosts snatched the lead out of the Rattlers’ grasp. Gumbs got involved in the scoring with a hard drive to the basket. Again, the Cavaliers answered with one of their own.

It was none other than Trevino who recorded his fourth triple and put San Marcos up 44-42 at the end of the third. 

“Not surprised,” Miller said.

The back-and-forth scoring resulted in four lead changes in the third quarter alone. Presley opened the final frame with consecutive hard drives to the basket, giving San Marcos an eight-point lead. The visitors extended that to nine later in the period but the Cavaliers wouldn’t go away quietly in front of their home crowd. A beautiful spin move jump shot at the free throw line from senior guard Stephan Jacob Everett with 44.4 seconds cut into his opponents' lead, 58-54. Although San Marcos struggled from the line late, they made enough to steal a win on the road and its first victory against Lake Travis since Nov. 19, 2013.

Miller and Presley explained what the difference was between Friday’s night’s game and the first time the Rattlers and Cavaliers squared off.

“Just a little more focus,” Miller said. “I thought we had our focus for 32 minutes tonight. We had our focus last time we played in peaks and valleys. We had it for a little while, a couple of times we lost focus, gave up a backdoor, gave up a split cut, 3-pointer. And tonight, we were focused all the time. For the most part, (Lake Travis) earned all their baskets and we — as long as we’re battling, teams are going to score but they have to earn everything. And for the most part tonight they did that I just thought it was our defensive focus.”

“We sped them up,” Presley said. “They were way too comfortable last game, so Coach Miller told us to get up in them. So we really sped them up and they couldn’t really handle pressure very well and we took advantage of that.”

San Marcos returns to its home floor for the last time this season on Tuesday to play Austin Westlake (32-1, 13-0). The Chaparrals are currently on a 31-game win streak and hold sole possession of first place in District 26-6A.

Meanwhile, a win for the Rattlers would force a tie between Lake Travis and San Marcos for the second seed. The purple and white embrace the toughness of their schedule knowing it’s all preparation for the playoff push they hope to make this season. 

“I think that’s the best part of this district because you these two teams who are two top teams in the state,” Miller said. “And going to playoffs is gonna be nothing but that type of competition, so it’s a good test for us.”

San Marcos Record

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