GCM and Donald Coleman, 11, pulled away late for a 69-53 win over Houston Waltrip in a first round win in the Patriot Invitational Thursday night in Baytown. The host Patriots play at 7 tonight against Waller in a quarterfinal contest.

Goose Creek Memorial has hung its hat on full court pressure early in this boys basketball season.

When they can score on the offensive side, their press works at higher efficiencies and that means headaches for the Patriot opponents.

That came in handy as the GCM squad opened up play of the second annual Patriot Invitational with a 69-53 win over Houston Waltrip in what amounted to a track meet masquerading as a basketball game.

Sam Bradford (18 points), Donald Coleman 16 points) and Malik Mustafa (10 points) led the Patriots.

The Patriots play Waller in today’s 7 p.m. quarterfinal at GCM. Waller advanced with a 65-54 win over La Porte.

“We got a deep team and we have to utilize our speed because we are not a big team,” GCM head coach Marcus Ebow said. “I’ve been telling them since last offseason that we are going to play fast so we have to be in shape. The press is based on conditioning and making sure guys are locked in and competiting. It’s the competitive nature of the team that they want to play.

“Waller has some decent size and hopefully we can speed them up and apply some pressure to them.”

GCM (3-2) led 12-6 after the first quarter and 32-24 at halftime during a high octane first 16 minutes with the hosts able to do a better job finishing at the rim and secure possession.

After the break, Waltrip started feeling a bit more confident behind the arc and crept within 36-34 three minutes into the second half.

The Patriots saw their lead shrink to 41-40 and that’s when they got serious.

The home team went on a blistering two-minute attack that pushed the edge to 53-42 thanks to a piranha-like press and the Patriots led 55-44 heading into the fourth quarter.

“It’s a long season and we are going to grow and learn,” Ebow said. “I want us to grow and win not be growing and losing. They did a great job and I love the way they play together.”

Momentum stayed on GCM’s side as it kept Waltrip from getting easy looks inside and the window was closed on any Rams outside shooting threat.

In other action, Sterling (1-8) fell 66-48 to Aldine and dropped into a consolation quarterfinal game at 5 tonight against Houston Furr on the Rangers home court.

“Overall, I thought our effort was a bit better than it was earlier in the week,” Sterling head coach Greg Smith said. “Our consistent lack of defense is a major issue that needs to be fixed.”

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