The McDowell Titans got off to an all-too-common slow start Friday, but this time, there wasn’t much recovering to be done.

McDowell (3-5 Northwestern 3A/4A Conference, 9-9 overall) fell behind the Hickory Red Tornadoes 18-3 after one quarter and never got back in the game, losing 78-54 at Titan Gym.

Hickory (7-1, 14-3) gave McDowell fits with its defensive length and quick hands, and the Titans never got comfortable offensively. The Titans made just 1 of their 13 shots in the opening period and finished the half at 20 percent (5-25).

Meanwhile, the Tornadoes shot 60 percent (15-25) in the first half and built a 40-12 halftime advantage. Included in that total was a 14-0 run to close the half after McDowell had battled back to within 26-12.

The Titans played much better in the second half, outscoring Hickory 42-38, but the damage had long since been done.

Trent Lewis was the only McDowell player in double figures. Lewis went 7-of-10 from the field and 7-of-9 from the line and scored 21, but 16 of those came in the second half.

Reserve guard Trenton Gragg scored nine and provided one of the few highlights for the Titans by making three 3-pointers in the final moments of play.

No on else scored more than six for the Titans.

Dylan McRary (4 points) posted a team-high of five rebounds, while he and J.C. Olivo dished out four assists apiece to lead the team. Qualique Garner (6 points) had three steals.

McDowell finished the game at 40 percent (19-47) from the field, while Hickory shot an even 50 percent (28-56). The Red Tornadoes held a 37-20 edge on the boards and led 12-3 in offensive rebounds.

The Titans are on the road at St. Stephens Tuesday night.

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