Temple head coach Joey Martin knew San Marcos was going to pose a tough early test for his Wildcats, but that’s really the whole point.
The hot-shooting Rattlers were up to the task Tuesday afternoon, getting a game-high 31 points from Malik Presley as they distanced themselves from the Wildcats in the second half of a 82-60 non-district win at Wildcat Gym, snapping Temple’s four-game winning streak.
“I knew coming in that San Marcos is a really, really good team,” Martin said. “They’re really well-coached. Dan Miller is a friend of mine. He coached at the college level for a while and he does an excellent job. We were 4-0 coming into this game and we played some teams I thought we were supposed to beat, so this was a challenge for us to get better for down the road.”
Temple (4-1), which led only once at 1-0, stayed in it for most of the first half and trailed 17-13 with 1:22 left in the opening quarter following Amaree Sewell’s steal and layup.
San Marcos (5-3), which earned its third straight win, answered 11 seconds later with a Caleb Williams 3-pointer from the right corner — one of three straight the guard hit to spark a 15-point swing that culminated in a Kaden Gumbs-to-Presley alley-oop dunk, giving the Rattlers a 32-13 lead with 5:42 left in the second.
It was one of four dunks for Presley, including a reverse slam on a fast break to open the third, as the Rattlers shot 51 percent (24-of-47). Williams made five 3s, all of which came in the first half when he scored all 17 of his points.
“Our district’s very tough,” Martin said. “We have to compete with teams like Killeen Ellison, Harker Heights, (Killeen) Shoemaker, Belton, some teams that are playoff-caliber teams, so we have some of those on the schedule.”
The Wildcats, who dressed only seven players just four days after their football team’s season ended, made another charge near the end of the first half when a pair of Jaylon Hall free throws ignited a 14-2 run that included back-to-back 3-pointers by Hall, who scored eight points in just more than a minute to force a San Marcos timeout.
Hall had a team-high 25 points on 10-of-17 shooting, including 10 in the second quarter. DeShaun Brundage capped the spurt by drilling a jump-stop 14-footer in front of a defender, pulling Temple to within 34-27 with 1:40 left before halftime.
San Marcos reclaimed the momentum when Cash Good got a steal on Temple’s final possession and found Presley for a deep 3 from the left side that fell as the buzzer sounded for the break.
It was three of 18 points the Rattlers scored off 12 Temple turnovers, while the Wildcats generated just four points off six turnovers.
The Wildcats got within 11 in the third after a Brundage 3 from the top of the key before San Marcos scored the next eight points, including a Presley dunk after he blocked a shot and took the ball coast-to-coast.
Martin said he liked the effort his players showed.
“I think they played really hard today,” he said. “We were playing a really good team, but you can’t fault them on the effort. We like to play fast and sometimes they get fatigued.”
Martin said he expects to add two to three football players to the varsity roster during the holiday break.