In a game Guyer controlled early before a late Denton surge, one aspect of the Wildcats' performance during the 69-67 victory remained consistent throughout — Jeremiah Green's scoring.
The sophomore guard, who is rated a four-star recruit by 247Sports, led all scorers with 29 points on a night where he was dialed in from downtown. When Guyer trailed Denton 67-66 late in the fourth quarter, Green was called upon once again and delivered.
Green's last 3-pointer of the contest proved to be the biggest as he nailed a triple with 1:31 left in the fourth quarter to put the Wildcats ahead for good.
"I had to get our team a win," Green said. "However it comes — an open three, basket, a pass, it doesn't matter. At that point, we just had to win."
From there, the Broncos had their chances to tie or take the lead. Jordan Kamga went to the foul line with 27.9 seconds left trailing by two, but failed to convert on either shot.
Blake Courtney came up with an offensive rebound of the second miss and Denton called timeout. A pass out of bounds on the ensuing sequence gave Guyer back the ball, but Jordan Lowery missed a pair of free throws after being fouled.
The Broncos looked for a final shot and got one off just before the buzzer as Chase Thomas shot from the right elbow, missing off the right side of the rim. A stifling defensive sequence by the Wildcats made a good look tough to find on the final possession.
"I thought it was one of our best [defensive] possessions, they couldn't hardly get a shot off," Guyer coach Grant Long said. "If we had played with that mentality and that type of grittiness all night, it would have been a much better performance defensively."
The miss left Denton (1-1) two points short of victory in an otherwise impressive performance against the Wildcats (2-0), which are perennial powers at the 6A level. Coach Michael Thomas was proud of his team's effort to climb back into the contest and give itself a chance in the end.
"For us to lose by two to a top-20 team in 6A, that's a win in my book," Thomas said. "We're just Denton. Be proud of that and let's make a name for ourselves. I think that's what they did today."
Lowery chipped in 13 points while Silas Rodriguez had 12 and Connor Newton posted nine points on three made 3-pointers as the Wildcats' three other main scorers.
After surmounting some early Denton runs, though, Guyer appeared to be fully in control of the contest by halftime.
After surrendering a 5-0 start to Denton, the Wildcats went on a 13-2 run to lead 13-7 more than halfway through the frame. The Broncos narrowed it to 13-12 on a 3-pointer and contested midrange jumper by Carter Eddy, but Guyer finished out the quarter on a 5-0 run with a three from Rodriguez and buzzer-beating layup by Lowery.
Denton star M.J. Thomas missed nearly half of the opening frame after picking up his second foul with 3:36 left in the quarter.
The trio of Green, Lowery and Newton all got going in the second quarter to help Guyer expand its lead. Green got things started with a layup, then Lowery scored a trio of twos and Newton knocked in two threes as the Wildcats took the quarter 23-15 to lead 41-27 at the half.
"We were just trying to find each other, just make the right play," Green said. "They were in a zone so we had to fake passes, just find open spots and hit shots."
Denton started to chip away at the lead in the third quarter, where it outscored Guyer 23-18. The Broncos were down as much as 16 with 4:48 left in the frame, but went on an 11-4 run from there capped off by an Eddy three to make it 59-50 after 24 minutes of play.
Four free throws by Thomas, then an Eddy made three while being fouled brought it to 65-63 with 3:56 to play. Thomas blocked Green on a drive to the basket and made two free throws the other way to make it 66-65 Guyer later on, then secured an offensive board and made a layup to put Denton ahead 67-66.
Green answered with the final and ultimately decisive basket as the Broncos' rally came up just short.
"They killed us on the boards in the first half," Thomas said. "Second half, we came with it and I said 'Hey, they don't need to get anymore offensive rebounds and we need to put pressure on the ball.' When we did that, you saw the run happen, but we dug ourselves too big of a hole early on."
Moving forward in nondistrict play, the Wildcats' priority is on continued improvement on both sides of the ball.
"We want to be gritty and tough on the defensive end, fearless in what we're doing there," Long said. "We have to make sure we team defensive rebound together, hitting guys and blocking out. Then just sharing the ball on the offensive end."