The Movin’ Mavs took home bronze in the third-place game of the Dallas Wheelchair Mavericks Invitational Tournament with a 69-56 win over the NRH Punishers.
Freshman Zach Blair said the team found some good rotation throughout the tournament and everyone learned new things about the way they play.
“For us to get on this kind of stride right now and coach to be rotating players and trusting players, it’s pretty nice right now at the end of the season,” he said.
Senior Fabian Romo and junior Clarence McCarthy-Grogan led the buildup plays in a fast and physical first quarter. Senior Adryan Powell tallied eight points near the paint during the period to put the hosts in front 18-8.
In the second quarter, NRH slowly started to creep back into the game but were plagued by inconsistent shooting. The Movin’ Mavs further frustrated the Punishers with more buildup plays and strong possession.
Head coach Doug Garner said he saw patient offense and good, intense defense. However, he said the team turned over the ball too many times — 16 during the game — and defensive communication continues to be an issue thanks to continuous lineup changes.
“I thought we did real well against them,” Garner said. “We matched their speed, which means we’re doing what we need to do chair-wise, and we played smart defense.”
Senior Alex Pabon came off the bench as a role player but still managed to convert six points in the second period. The Movin’ Mavs took a 35-23 lead into the halftime break.
The Punishers came out hard in the third quarter with nagging defense and a more coordinated offense. UTA managed to match NRH’s output and kept the lead at 12 points heading into the final period. The Movin’ Mavs opened the fourth quarter with a 54-42 advantage.
Blair said that since UTA had a full squad compared to NRH’s eight players, it gave the hosts a numerical advantage but not necessarily a mental one.
“That team is not going to back down. They’re always going to have that fight and that grit,” he said. “We had to just fend off their little spurts that they were going to have.”
Blair added six points in the final period as the game ended 69-56.
Powell and McCarthy-Grogan finished with a game-high 18 points a piece, while Blair notched 12 points off the bench.
Heading into the next tournament in Alabama, Garner said he wants the team to be mentally tough when facing adversity.
“When things get down, or if we have lead and people are catching up, just stay positive and focusing on what we need to fix moving forward,” he said. “I think if we do that, we’re going to finish the season really well.”
The Movin’ Mavs return to the court for the UA Early College Classic on March 1 and 2 at the University of Alabama.