WELLS — The Cushing Bearkats are still trying to knock off the rust from football season and get into basketball mode.

In only their second hoop contest of the season, the ’Kats got behind to a seasoned Broaddus squad by nine points in the first quarter, but battled back, cutting the deficit to three points nearly midway through the third period. But the Bulldogs were able to heat up late in the third quarter and pull away for a 52-33 victory here in Pirate Gymnasium in the opening round of the Wells Tournament on Thursday.

Cushing will get a chance to bounce back this morning at 10 a.m. when the Bearkats battle Brookeland in the district’s new gymnasium.

Zane Thornton led the balanced Cushing offensive push, scoring 13 points, including a pair of treys, while Asa Dawson was close to double figures, dropping in nine.

Will Hobgood chipped in six points for the Bearkats, with JT Garrett scoring three and Ty Baker produced one point.

“We were way more in sync today than we were the other night (in the season opener),” said Cushing first-year head coach Will Kollette. “The other night we got frustrated because the shots weren’t falling, while we were knocking the rust off from football season. We tried to take it by ourselves a little too much and forced some shots.

“But we looked back at the film and saw the mistakes we made, and today we stuck to the game plan and played better.”

Kollette said he told his players they have to be patient because it will take some time to get into rhythm.

“We showed tremendous improvement between the first and second games,” the coach insisted. “The last game we had a rough outing against Central Pollock. But we only had four days of practice before the game, so we’re still knocking the rust off big time. And today our improvement and hard work showed. We’re moving the ball around, we’re playing better as a unit.

“We’ve got a few tweaks here and there we’ve got to work on, but today our shot selection was better, we were communicating on defense on the help side, and for the most part.”

Broaddus worked the ball around the floor and kept Cushing out of sync in the early going, as the Bulldogs used a 12-1 run over the final 4:44 of the period built a 14-5 lead at the end of the opening stanza.

Cushing forced four second-quarter turnovers to inch to within 21-14 at the break, then Dawson landed a three and Thornton scored a pair of layups to pull Cushing to within 24-21 with 5:10 left in the third.

But the Bulldogs used three treys — with two coming from Mason Brittum — to widen the gap back to 41-25 at the end of the third and they coasted from there.

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