Connor Ouellette got his wish this basketball season at Texas A&M University-Texarkana. The former Pleasant Grove cager and Liberty-Eylau graduate Decorion Phillips are now teammates.
“I’ve always wanted to play on the same team with Decorion,” said Ouellette.
The former rivals played key roles Thursday at the Patterson Student Center, where the Eagles won their second straight Red River Athletic Conference game over Our Lady of the Lake (San Antonio), 86-67.
TAMU-T coach relishes any win, but beating his former team the Saints was special.
”I told the guys all week this game meant a little more to me,” said Eagles’ coach Ryan Wall. “They did a great job of coming out and executing the game plan. If we go into every game with this mentality this team will see success. We can do special things at the end of the season if this team comes together.”
Thursday’s contest didn’t look good early with the Saints’ Michael Saladin making his first four shots from 3-point land to put his team up, 12-7.
Phillips was hot off the bench
That lead disappeared quickly once Wall sent in his second five players. Phillips converted his only three shots of the half, and junior Anthony McGee buried a pair of treys to help TAMU-T (7-11, 2-4) build a 22-point cushion. Ouellette scored inside and outside for 12 of his game-high 26 points. Ouellette also led both teams with seven rebounds.
”Decorion did a great job; when he’s locked in he’s a good player,” said Wall. “We’re a better team with Decorion and Anthony (McGee) coming off the bench. It’s not because they shouldn’t be starting, but because of the dynamics they bring. I thought our energy and effort was a lot better than it has been all year.
”Our bench was into the game. The ref finally had to tell our bench to sit down. We haven’t had that all season. If our bench is like that we’re a good team. If we’re deep we’re a good team.”
Four players in double digits for Eagles
Seven different Eagles scored five points or more, including four in double figures. Phillips tallied 16, Desmond Kennedy 13, and McGee 10.
The Eagles’ pressure forced 22 turnovers, and the smaller local team edged Our Lady of the Lake (4-13, 0-7) on the glass, 38-37. The Saints’ roster featured six players who were 6-6 or taller. Junior Edwin Tedejo of Stockholm, Sweden, was the tallest at 6-11.
Saladin hit only 1 of 8 treys after his hot start, finishing the game with a team-high 21 points. Guard Estefan Trevino added 16, with 6-8 freshman Victor Roper scoring 15.
Texarkana suited up a new player Thursday in 6-5 sophomore Morgan Garner of Memphis, Tenn. Wall is still hoping to add more once their eligibility is cleared.
The Eagles will be back in action Saturday at home against Huston-Tillotson (Austin, Texas).