Baty's message gets through, finally, as Cavs pull away from Dragons

Sometimes teenagers have to hear directions more than once.

For two quarters and a possession Tuesday night against Round Rock, Lake Travis (27-5) didn’t heed coach Clint Baty’s advice to attack the rim against the Dragons’ zone defense. But after a halftime lecture, the Cavaliers finally got the message and pulled away for a 65-49 Bi-District playoff win at Vandegrift.

“He probably said ‘attack’ 35 times at the half,” said Lake Travis senior guard Tate Searle of Baty’s message. “Once we started doing that, the threes became easy.”

Searle hit three of his team’s five second-half three-pointers and assisted on Blake Watkins’ three just 30 seconds into the third quarter as the Cavaliers managed to gain a measure of control after trailing 14-9 in the second quarter.

“We had taken a reverse mentality in the first half,” Baty said. “We were looking outside first hoping that would open up the inside. We tried to flip that script, but of course our first shot of the second half was a three.”

When Round Rock’s Rodrigo Rosales scored off a steal, the Cavaliers led just 34-27. But then they started to attack. Budde broke the press and punished the Dragons with a thunderous dunk and Searle followed with a layup to push the lead to 38-27.

“Jake got that dunk and then we got some lay-ups,” Searle said. “Then the threes got wide open.”

Round Rock wouldn’t go away, closing to within 42-36 early in the fourth quarter before the Cavaliers delivered a knockout combination with back-to-back-to-back three-pointers. Searle hit a pair of wide open threes off feeds from Quinn Amsler and Budde, and then found Christian Seidl for a three that pushed the lead to 51-36.

The Dragons never got closer than 11 the rest of the way as the Cavaliers finally started making free throws. After making just 4 of 16 in the first three quarters, the Cavaliers made 14 of 15 in the final quarter to pull away. Baty said the Cavaliers responded to his challenge between the third and fourth quarters to just make shots.

“We have a good shooting team,” he said, “and when you challenge them about making shots, they step up. They did that in the fourth quarter.

Round Rock stayed close in a sloppy first half, leading 14-9 before Budde went to work. He fed Seidl for a three and found Sean Wimbush for a layup to tie the game before scoring to regain a 16-14 lead. Then he hit three three-pointers in the final three minutes of the half – his first three-pointers since Jan. 27 – as the Cavaliers took a 27-21 lead at the break. He had 14 of his 18 in the opening half, 13 in the second quarter.

Searle scored 16 of his 18 in the second half as the Cavaliers pulled away. Seidl added 11. The Cavaliers held Round Rock’s Ryan Pearson to just one three-pointer on the night. Donovan Armstrong scored 11 to lead the Dragons.

Lake Travis advances to play the winner of Klein and Humble Kingwood in the Area playoffs on Friday. The game will likely be played at Blinn Junior College.