The prevailing thought Friday was that Brandon Walters was going to have some kind of impact on the outcome of Howard's basketball game against Tyner. Specifically, it was believed the 6-foot-8 center's dominance on offense might be too much for the Rams' young post players.
As it turned out, he channeled his inner Anthony Davis in Hustlin' Tigers dominance on the other end of the court.
Walters finished with 19 rebounds and seven blocks, and the Tigers locked down Tyner in a 64-47 District 6-AA road victory to improve to 5-0.
Both teams had slow starts, and Walters missed six layups in the early going. Howard coach Walter McGary pulled him out of the game temporarily, and when he returned he played with much more control.
"I was rushing," said Walters, who also had 16 points. "I wasn't taking my time, and Coach told me to hold the ball up high, because when I do can't nobody get to it.
"Taking me out changed my mindset; it calmed me down."
The momentum swing came in a 10-minute span in the second and third quarters. The Rams (4-3, 2-1) led 21-13 after a Sadik Spence 3-pointer, but Howard countered with a 35-10 run for a 17-point lead by the end of the third quarter. Tyner was held to four field goals in that span, when Walters made four of his seven blocks.
The key was the center's ability to keep the ball inbounds, which led to transition baskets in the run.
"We didn't make good decisions and didn't get some of the calls we thought we should have got," Tyner coach Gerald Harris said. "Brandon's a load inside. I've had a center like him, and when he would get blocks, the wings would run and they'd have 3-on-2 or 2-on-1 fastbreaks that they capitalized on.
"As the game went on, we went away from what we were trying to do. We were selfish at times, and when we do that, we look bad."
In addition to the shooting woes, the overflow crowd played a role in the game. Play was stopped on numerous occasions to try to mop up the floor that was slippery due to the condensation from a packed house.
Walters was the team's leading scorer, but Howard's Antonio Smith finished with 12 and Lorenzo McCauley had 10. Xavier Harris and Chris Walton each had eight rebounds, with the latter adding five assists and five steals.
Dejuan Hardwick had 13 points and 11 rebounds for Tyner, while Bristen Bridgeman had 12 points and Spence added 11.
"You play your rivals and nerves take over. The guys want to do well and put on a show so badly in front of the crowd, but it took a quarter and a half to get rid of those nerves," McGary said. "Thank God Tyner was missing shots, too.
"We made some adjustments and switched some matchups according to speed. I told them that with our quickness, if they play man-to-man defense that way, nobody around here can play with us."