Temple boys basketball

Jon Farrow/Special to the Telegram

Temple’s Lawrence Auston shoots as Bryan’s Taylan Johnson defends during the Wildcats’ 53-49 District 12-6A loss Friday at Wildcat Gym.

Temple’s uphill climb offensively didn’t make it any easier against Bryan. Yet the Wildcats still had a chance late in Friday’s District 12-6A contest to escape an up-and-down performance with a victory.

A seven-point spree in a lightning-quick span of 2 seconds had Temple within two points after it trailed by as much as 13 in the fourth quarter. But after the Vikings split a pair of free throws to make it a three-point advantage with 29 seconds left, the Wildcats turned over the ball on their ensuing possession and one final free throw from the visitors sealed Bryan’s 53-49 win at Wildcat Gym.

“Got it back to two. Had a chance at it,” said Temple head coach Joey Martin, whose team couldn’t make it a 2-for-2 week after knocking off Belton on Tuesday night. “They made a play and we didn’t.”

Bryan (17-5, 2-1) used an 11-1 spurt to go up 50-37 with 2:25 to go in the fourth. The Wildcats (13-12, 1-2) answered with their best minute of offense — a scintillating burst that included Devan Williams’ four-point play and Jaylon Hall’s three-point play toward a 12-1 run to trim the deficit to 51-49 with exactly 1:00 showing on the clock.

Duwayne Paulhill made one free throw for Bryan to make it 52-49, an errant pass left Temple without an attempt at a tying 3 and Seandre Collins went 1-of-2 from the line to put a cap on the outcome.

“Temple has some really talented dudes and can score the ball in multiple ways. When they went on that phenomenal run and we went to the timeout, I told them, there’s two things that can be said about this game and the choice is yours. Bryan has an epic collapse and loses or Bryan has a near-epic collapse,” said Vikings head coach Jonathan Hines, who also said his squad overcame a stomach bug outbreak that affected practice time this week. “They answered and made the plays needed at the end of the game. I think that’s going to help this team going forward.”

Hall finished with a team-high 20 points and Williams had nine on a night when Temple created plenty of extra possessions by turning over Bryan 24 times but couldn’t cash in those takeaways on the offensive end. The Wildcats shot 17-of-55 from the floor and 10-of-16 at the line.

Taylan Johnson posted 17 of his game-high 21 points in the second half, and Collins finished with nine points for Bryan.

“Bryan’s long, athletic and a lot bigger than you think they are, so they either block shots or they change shots. I knew that coming in, but we didn’t shoot the ball very well,” Martin said. “The last three days of practice has been, we have to offensive rebound, because I know we are going to have nights when we don’t shoot it well. And we did not do a good job of offensive rebounding to get us extra looks.

“The first half we got steals, we just didn’t capitalize. I thought there were four opportunities there when we had a steal and didn’t finish. My philosophy is, if you don’t make layups, you don’t deserve to win. I asked them, did we deserve to win that one? No. We missed too many layups, makeable shots.”

Temple dropped in the first five points of the contest, gave up the next eight and finished the first quarter scoring five of the last seven for a 10-all tie after 8 minutes.

Bryan led by nine twice in the second quarter — 21-12 and 24-15 — but Temple stayed on the Vikings’ heels and trailed just 24-19 at halftime.

The Vikings took their first double-digit lead, 34-23, with 1:30 to play in the third quarter, and carried a nine-point cushion into the fourth.

“I didn’t think we were out of it until they made that last free throw,” Martin said. “We have to look in the mirror and get back in the gym.”

Temple has two home games next week, starting Tuesday night against Killeen Shoemaker. The Wildcats host Harker Heights next Friday.