Gulf Coast’s convincing 84-66 victory over the visiting Baton Rouge Community College was anything but a relaxing experience for coach Wendell Weathers early on.
For long stretches the Bulldogs (4-1) looked like the better team, finishing fast breaks and cashing in on opportunities. But there were times when MGCCC went cold from the floor and looked confused executing Weathers’ plays.
As the game progressed, and with the return of star forward Davion Cole-Johnson, who sat the first half due to disciplinary reasons, the Bulldogs better resembled the team Weathers envisions.
“We played them last week over there and got beat primarily because we took bad shots on our offense, didn’t really execute our offense and they beat our brains out down the floor,” Weathers said, referencing last week’s 94-85 loss. “We talked about not doing that tonight. We talked about running our offense, executing our offense and trying to make them play 5-on-5.
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“I think we did that and the longer we played the further ahead we got. I thought our guys played particularly well down the stretch.”
Gulf Coast opened the game in dominating fashion with a 12-2 run — and had it not been for a goaltending call, Baton Rouge wouldn’t have scored until the 15:55 mark.
With Cole-Johnson on the bench, four different players got into the scoring mix during the run.
The Bulldogs (4-1) went cold after that, however, allowing the Bears (5-2) to get back into the game. Baton Rouge slowly chipped away at Gulf Coast, eventually taking its first lead, 26-25, with 3:24 remaining in the half after six consecutive points from 6-foot-7 Orlando native Josh Raoul.
“They caught up primarily because we just didn’t execute our offense,” Weathers said. “We have a motion offense that we run and our guys have a tendency to make one pass and stand. That’s what I keep trying to tell them: We’re not running stand, we’re running motion.
“The more we can move then the more problems we create and I think we did a better job of that in the second half.”
The two sides traded leads for the remainder of the half until a buzzer-beating three from former West Harrison standout Harvey Smart gave the homestanding Bulldogs the narrow 36-34 advantage at the break.
The second half opened similarly to the first, with Gulf Coast opening the frame on a 9-4 run.
With Cole-Johnson back in the lineup, and the Bulldogs once again routinely knocking down shots, the Bears never really posed much of a threat the remainder of the game.
“This is a young team. We have three guys on this team who played last year. I like these guys. I think they’re talented, but we’re a work in process,” Weathers said. “We have to try and move forward step by step and not by leaps and bounds. If we can continue to do that then sooner or later we’ll have a chance.”
Leading the way
Former Biloxi standout Zach Parker finished with a game-high 23 points.
“Zach is a really good shooter when he takes really good shots. He’s capable of taking bad ones,” Weathers said. “So, my issue with him is, you have to quit trying to find your shot and let our offense find your shot. When it does, he’s pretty doggone good.”
Winston Morgan, Cole-Johnson and Jaylen Peters scored 15, 13 and 11 points respectively.
Isaiah Boissard led BRCC with 14 points. Raoul scored 12.
Gulf Coast continues its Thanksgiving tournament Tuesday against Southern University-Shreveport at 1:45 p.m.