SPRING BRANCH — The Unicorns’ climb up the District 26-6A leaderboard continued Friday night following a 61-54 triumph over Smithson Valley on the road.
New Braunfels (21-7, 4-3) overcame a slow start that saw the Rangers build a 15-8 lead after the first quarter. From that point forward, though, the Unicorns rallied to tie the game and then vaulted ahead with a strong surge late.
Head coach David Brawner’s team outscored Smithson Valley 19-12 in the fourth quarter to ride away with its third consecutive league victory.
“We shot the ball poorly in the first half but felt good about the looks we were getting,” Brawner said. “We said the key to winning was great team defense and we did that. We took several charges, which was huge.”
Eli Datesman and Mason Pullen helped keep New Braunfels afloat early as Smithson Valley’s Devante Mount and Armel Talla led an early run for the Rangers (16-9, 5-2).
The Unicorns trimmed their deficit down to two by halftime thanks to key buckets from Dylan Schmitt, Jackson Reid and Jack Lewis. New Braunfels then led the game heading into the fourth quarter and tallied 19 points over the final eight minutes of play to leave Spring Branch with a league victory in hand.
Pullen, who finished with a game-high 19 points, tallied 14 in the second half, while Datesman provided eight of his 11 total points after halftime. Datesman also set a new program record for 3-pointers made in a career with 127.
“Mason and Eli took the game over in the second half both inside and outside,” Brawner said. “Dylan Schmitt was great off the bench.”
Schmitt finished with eight points, as did Reid. Lewis chipped in seven points in the win.
Smithson Valley was paced by Mount’s 16 points and Austin Kenwisher’s 13. Freshman Zayden High had another strong outing, as he contributed 10 points during the setback.
The Rangers will be back in action this coming Tuesday for a 7 p.m. district game at Clemens. New Braunfels is set to make the crosstown trip to Canyon Tuesday night at 7 p.m.