GIDDINGS — A second-half surge wasn’t enough to help Rouse finally break through to the third round of the playoffs.
Despite cutting an 18-point deficit to a single possession, the Raiders’ seasons came to an end in the area round on Tuesday night after a 67-55 loss to No. 18 College Station at Giddings High School.
“It’s been a rollercoaster season, and we just started to figure it out at the end,” Rouse head coach Shane Krause said. “We finished playing very well. College Station was well-coached and very good. I’m proud of our guys and we’ll just look forward.”
Keaton Brown led Rouse with 15 points and Sam Lacy added 13 of his own. Tyler Gunn nailed a trio of 3-pointers to finish with nine points for the Raiders while Bryce Jefferson and Caeden Kieper each scored five.
The Raiders have not advanced past the area round since their inception.
College Station scored the first five points of the game, while Rouse struggled to hit a shot in the first quarter. The Raiders’ struggles continued in the second quarter as the Cougars outscored them 23-10.
“The second quarter killed us,” Krause said. “We took some bad shots and they got out and ran and they are great at executing. At times, our defensive position was not good, and they took advantage every single time.”
Everything changed in the second half.
Rouse boosted its energy and fed off the crowd. College Station didn’t score for more than four minutes at the end of the third quarter and the Raiders cut the lead to eight points. Keiper and Thomas Oats, both sophomores, saw more playing time for Rouse.
“At halftime, (assistant coach Robert Sainz) gave them an earful and we went with some younger guys,” Krause said. “I told them that you show your true character when you’re down, and we showed a ton of toughness on that comeback.”
But the Cougars did just enough down the stretch by slowing down the game, drawing fouls and hitting 11 of their 12 free throws in the fourth quarter to hold on and advance to the third round.
Krause was optimistic about the future of the program but said the quartet of seniors — Brown, Gunn, Zac Black and Jake Lilley, left an imprint on the program that won’t soon be forgotten.
“I told them they’re as good as any group we’ve had,” Krause said. “They stayed the course at every level that they played on and the bough into the program and did a great job for them. We’ll keep helping them as long as we can.”