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Titans pick up second straight win over Warriors

By aalvarado
Feb. 7, 2012 at 11 p.m.
Updated Feb. 6, 2012 at 8:07 p.m.

Victoria East's Xavier Ellis puts up a shot against  Victoria West defenders, from left, Drew Erskine, Miles Manning and Clayton Cain during the second half of Tuesday evening's game. The Titans defeated the Warriors 58-51.

Although he is not the team's leading scorer, senior guard Devin Harris is the team's star, even if some basketball fans do not know it.

In a trophy case outside of East's gym, the team tracks stats other than scoring that help win games. Harris has the most stars of any Titan, and his star power was on display Tuesday at home.

"Even when he's not scoring, he rebounds, plays defense, takes charges," East head coach John Grammer said. "He's a good all-around player."

Harris' 12 points and Dav'Vin Hill's team-high 16 points led East to a 58-54 win against crosstown rival Victoria West.

The Titans are now 6-2 in District 30-4A and 19-12 overall. The loss drops the Warriors to 16-14 and 5-3 in district.

Drew Erskine scored a game-high 21 points for West, while Ian Sharpless added 12 and was one of five Titans to hit a 3-pointer.

Coming into the season, the Titans graduated their leading scorer and most of their height, so the young replacements had to rely on rebounding and fundamentals to win games.

"The little things matter for us to win," Harris said.

In the second half, it was the little things that made a big difference for East.

After 16 minutes, the Warriors had a five-point lead, but dominated the Titans in hustle stats.

West outrebounded East 14-7 and had 19 points in the paint to East's eight.

The Titans also shot just 32 percent from the field in the first half.

This prompted Grammer to lay down the gauntlet.

"At halftime, I said, 'I guess they're just better than you. On the boards, I guess they're just better than you,'" Grammer said.

The Titans responded by cutting West's rebounding edge to 11-10 in the second half and took advantage of turnovers to score eight fastbreak points in the second half.

"I think they just outrebounded us, and we didn't get the job done," West head coach Pat Erskine said.

"We like when people say we can't do something," Hill added.

When the two teams met on Jan. 30, the Titans overcame an 11-point, second-half deficit to win 65-63.

On Tuesday, the game played out in a similar fashion as West held a 40-31 lead with 2:46 remaining in the third quarter.

The momentum switched for East when Cole Wozniak hit a jumpshot that sparked a 16-3 run, giving the Titans a 45-41 lead with 5:28 remaining in the game.

"Going into the second half, we knew they were tired," Hill said. "We knew we had to press it on them and get layups and steals like we did."

The Titans outscored the Warriors 27-14 in the final 10:30 of the game.

Defensively, the Titans put multiple defenders on Drew Erskine, which finally took its toll on the senior guard in the second half.

"That just says you have a lot of respect for him," Pat Erskine said. "When you're doubling and tripling a kid, you know that's the kid who's going to beat you."

Although East was in control of the game, West made it close when post Clayton Cain scored in the paint to cut the East lead to 54-49 with 44.2 seconds remaining.

Harris was fouled and missed the front end of a one-and-one, but Drew Erskine traveled on the ensuing West possession.

When East was attempting to inbound the ball, Cain was whistled for a technical foul for grabbing East post Xavier Ellis' arm.

Ellis missed both shots and Cain came up with a steal, but West junior guard Geoff Graff couldn't handle his pass and the ball went out of bounds to end West's final real threat.

Cole and Jacob Garza finished in double figures for West with 11 and 10 points, respectively.

East can force a tie for the district lead with a win at Calhoun on Friday.

West will try to rebound against Beeville on Friday. West has a two-game lead on Floresville for the No. 3 seed.

West post Nic Bufford will be back in the lineup after missing six games.

Although the coach said Bufford's absence helped the West bench, he's looking forward to the return of his presence in the post.

"You take an Ian Sharpless or a Christian (Herring) out of their game and let them play for six games, it'd be pretty tough," Pat Erskine said. "When you put a starter back in the mix, you've got a better team."

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