BULLARD -- Bullard Brook Hill called timeout and began to plot its final play.

On the other side, Kevin Murray implored Tyler Bishop Gorman to switch when the ball was caught.

The Guard trailed by 3 with seconds remaining. They called timeout after advancing the ball past half court, meaning a sideline inbound was upcoming.

Jared Johnson, who led Brook Hill all evening, caught the ball well past the 3-point line. He tried to dribble to create space, but the Crusaders' defense swarmed him, causing his attempt to fall well off mark. That secured a 45-42 victory for Gorman in the TAPPS District 3-5A opener for both teams.

The victory avenged a 63-52 loss for the Crusaders in Bullard last season. Although, it didn't come without struggle.

Crusader center Bradrick Baylock fouled out early in the fourth quarter, leaving Gorman to look to its bench. Later in the quarter, Tyler Hobbs also fouled out.

That meant when Gorman (11-9, 1-0) took the floor for the biggest play of the game, it did so without two of its starters.

“We knew this place was probably the hardest place to play in our district," Murray said. "We came here last year. Me personally, I didn’t think I had my team mentally prepared to play. This year, we were more than prepared. We fought through adversity. Guys stepped up and kept motivating each other through the adversity. Coming here for the first district game, to get this one was big.”

Seth Vasso led the Crusaders all game, finishing with 14 points. He had heroics of his own in the fourth quarter with a layup that pushed the lead to four late in the game.

But it was one of the bench players who stole the show.

Sid Cleofe, who is listed a 5-foot-6 on MaxPreps, came into the game after Hobbs fouled out and Brook Hill (12-11, 0-1) cut the lead to 1. He took the inbound on the next play and was immediately fouled and sent to the line for a one-and-one free throw.

Cleofe played most of the junior varsity game prior to this one. He is a freshman. And here he was, thrust into the limelight. The Crusader crowd hushed in anticipation as his first free throw attempt took flight. It fell through the net and noise filled the building. Cleofe sank the second as well to give Gorman the 3-point cushion heading into the final play.

Although the free throws were his biggest moment of the night, Cleofe also impressed in the third quarter, where he entered to score a quick four points.

"He came in and had some big moments," Murray said. "He’s a big-time kid in a small body. That’s pretty much what got us through this win, along with the guys I got out there. All the seniors.”

Jake Smith also added six points -- all of which came on 3-point shots -- to go with 12 rebounds for Gorman.

Jared Johnson led Brook Hill with 20 points and also had five rebounds, while Joseph Johnson 12 points to go with four rebounds.

The Crusaders have a week off before they face Tyler Grace Community at 8 p.m. Friday at home. Meanwhile, Brook Hill will next play Tyler HEAT at 8 p.m. Tuesday in Bullard for a non-district game.

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