Short-handed Cowboys sluggish early, unable to overcome deficit in loss to Panthers


Sannidhi Arimanda

Coppell senior guard Naz Brown drives against Plano East on Tuesday at CHS Arena. The Cowboys fell to the Panthers, 54-45.

Meer Mahfuz, Staff Writer

Despite trailing by 10 points earlier in the game, the comeback was on for the Coppell basketball team. A strong offensive and defensive showing in the third quarter allowed the Cowboys to cut the deficit to one point but Coppell was unable to overcome its slow start.

After shooting itself in the foot in the first quarter, the Cowboys fell to Plano East, 54-45, last night at CHS Arena. The loss marked the Cowboys’ first district loss of the 2021-22 season. 

Despite matching Plano East (21-2, 3-1 in District 6-6A) for the first couple minutes of the game, with senior guard Naz Brown scoring a 3-pointer and a putback, the Panthers rolled to an 18-8 lead by the end of the first quarter. 

“We just need to commit to doing the little things and being willing to do the little things,” Coppell coach Clint Schnell said. “Rotating on defense, box out whenever we get rebounds, make harder cuts and just the things that you can control; we need to do better at taking the opportunity to get those done.”

And for the first five minutes of the second quarter, the Panthers would go on a 9-5 run to increase its lead over Coppell (16-9, 3-1). For the remaining three minutes of the half, however, the Cowboys would put together an 8-0 run, emphasized by a couple of 3-pointers from senior guard Devank Rane, to reduce their deficit to six points going into halftime. 

The third quarter saw an increase in the Cowboys’ offensive execution as Coppell rattled off a pair of 3-point plays from sophomore forward Arhan Lapsiwala and sophomore guard Alex Tung. At the end of the third quarter, the Cowboys’ had cut the earlier six point deficit to three points.

The Cowboys cut the deficit to just a point with 5:16 remaining in the game but were unable to find a shot for the next four minutes. The Cowboys were outscored 15-9 in the fourth quarter as they gave up eight consecutive fastbreak points. 

Rane and Brown led Coppell with 12 points apiece while Lapsiwala chipped in nine points.

“We still have almost four weeks of games left so we can’t focus too much [on this loss],” Lapsiwala said. “It has to be a short term memory; we obviously came up short, we were close at the end but sometimes shots don’t fall and the effort wasn’t there in the end.”

With Brown having reduced minutes because of soreness and senior guard Ryan Agarwal still out with injury, the Cowboys had many opportunities for other players to step up in their absences.

“We try to build depth all year but, when guys go down, other people have to step up and it’s their chance to go out there and show us what they can do and create a role for themselves,” Schnell said. 

The Cowboys host Flower Mound on Friday with tipoff at 8 p.m. at CHS Arena.

“What happened today was basketball and it’s going to happen,” Rane said. “It’s happened every year I’ve played basketball in my life. This is just a big learning lesson for us. Every game from here on out is a must-win game for us, it’s a must-win mentality.”

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