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Dogs nip Groesbeck, rip Buffalo

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Crockett's Courtney Byrd recorded a double-double against Buffalo on Friday with 13 points and 10 boards. Larry Lamb|HCC)Crockett's Courtney Byrd recorded a double-double against Buffalo on Friday with 13 points and 10 boards. Larry Lamb|HCC)By Larry Lamb
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CROCKETT – Crockett Bulldogs survived a nail-biting finish at Groesbeck, 78-77, last Tuesday and then raced past Buffalo, 76-44, at home Friday.

The No. 15-ranked Bulldogs trailed Groesbeck at the end of the first two quarters, 24-23 and 37-36.

Groesbeck outscored the Bulldogs by six in the third quarter to open up a 62-55 lead but the game went down to the wire.

"It was a wild finish," said Bulldogs head coach Drae Murray.

With Crockett up by one, 76-75, with 20-plus seconds left, Murray called time-out and drew up a play.

"I told the guys if something happens and Groesbeck scores, we're going to push the ball up the floor quickly and we're going to score," said the coach.

Things did not go as planned, however, as Groesbeck stole the ball and scored to go in front 77-76.

The Bulldogs got the ball back with 14 seconds left. Tayshawn Simon passed to Jadyn Collins, who drove the length of the floor and scored a go-ahead layup.

Groesbeck heaved the ball down the court as time expired and the Bulldogs escaped with a one-point victory.

"Our guys executed the plan and we got the win. It was a good game. Groesbeck has a big man who had a double-double with 22 points and 11 rebounds against us," said Murray.

Crockett was led in double figures by Simon with 20 (4 treys), Collins with 18, Courtney Byrd with 17 and Delvin "D.J." Walker with 10.

Bre'dron Tucker netted 6, Keshun Easterling 4 and Iverson Rischer had 3.

The Bulldogs didn't need any last- second heroics to beat Buffalo.

Crockett led 18-12 after a quarter but gained some breathing room in the second with a 25-11 run that propelled them to a 42-23 lead.

Leading 63-29 heading into the fourth quarter, Murray pulled his starters and put the game in the hands of the bench. 

"We didn't play our starters in the fourth so we could get a look at the other  guys who don't get many minutes. We'll need those guys in big games, so we want to get them in the game a little more," said Murray.

Picking up where the starters left off, Murray's bench opened up a 37-point lead  midway through the fourth.

"We generally don't start out fast, which is concerning still. As we get into the flow of the game I think we eventually settle in. When we play our style of basketball we show we're probably one of the top teams in 3A. We just have to figure out how to do it for 32 minutes," said Murray.

Byrd recorded a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds.

Walker poured in 22 points, including a pair of treys, in just three quarters. The senior collected 9 rebounds leaving him just one board shy of a double-double. "He was good, but he's still missing shots. He has to get his legs back under him more," said Murray.

Collins picked up his 11 points in the first half and Tucker finished with 11.

Easterling booked 7 points and 9 rebounds, followed by Jarodrick Holmes with 5, Simon 4, Ajani Ellis 3 and Rischer with 2.

"Overall it was a good team win. We played better on the defensive end. We were able to get rebounds and run. I know D.J. got a lot of his 22 points off offensive rebounds. That's one thing I challenged him on --  being more aggressive on the offensive glass. He's doing that and he's getting us extra possessions," said Murray.

Praising Tucker for energizing the Bulldogs, Murray said, "I love his energy. Bre'dron just moved into the starting lineup over the Christmas break and you can tell the energy he brings helps us out and he rebounds really well. He is one guy you can depend on to play hard for you. I appreciate him for that effort he gives us every game."

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Lady Dogs start new year with big district wins

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Lady Bulldog A'Nayah Wooten is pressured by Buffalo defenders during district basketball action Friday night in the old CHS gym.Lady Bulldog A'Nayah Wooten is pressured by Buffalo defenders during district basketball action Friday night in the old CHS gym.By Larry Lamb
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CROCKETT – Knocking off the rust after a 12-day holiday hiatus, Crockett Lady Bulldogs rang in 2022 by beating Groesbeck and Buffalo.

This was the third straight district win for the Lady Bulldogs (3-2), who played Westwood on Tuesday. Crockett will host No. 3-ranked Fairfield (5-0) on Friday to wrap up the first half of district. All remaining home games will be played in the old CHS gym due to a bubble in a section of the wood court in the Hopkins Activity Center.

Hitting the road last Tuesday, junior Tocarra Johnson recorded her first career triple-double to spark the Lady Bulldogs in a 50-41 win over Groesbeck. 

Johnson finished the night with 18 points, 22 rebounds and 10 steals

“We started off really shaky. We hadn’t played a game since Dec. 22, so it was definitely expected,” said  coach TaNesiah Johnson.

Crockett only led 15-10 after a quarter and outscored the Lady Goats by four in the second for a 26-17 halftime lead.

The Lady Dogs were up 40-29 after three but were outscored by two in the final period.

Freshman Tania Davis followed Johnson in double figures with 10, while Ty'Reyanna Beasley and sophomore A'Nayah Wooten chipped in 8 apiece.

“We did well but I thought my defense was not at its best at all. We are just returning from a long break without a game so this was conditioning and finding the stamina as well. I really couldn't complain,” added Johnson.

Hosting Buffalo (0-5) Friday night, the Lady Bulldogs took control in the second half and went on to win 75-20.

Up by 15 at halftime, Crockett stepped on the gas in the third quarter and outscored Buffalo 22-4. The Lady Bulldogs dominated the fourth quarter, 28-6.

"Of course, we started off flat. We were playing on their level and not ours. We should have controlled the tempo," said Johnson. "I always say we need three scorers in double figures and we got it, plus we had a couple of others with six. We finally brought it."

"We played our style of basketball in the third and fourth quarters. We have to start off early in every game. We can't start off flat against Franklin or Teague because we're trying to upset them," added Johnson.

Johnson flirted with her second triple-double, booking 31 points, 26 rebounds and 8 steals. She picked up 12 of her points on the final period.

Wooten joined Johnson in a fourth quarter scoring frenzy and canned 10, giving her a total of 13 for the night. Davis rounded out double figures with 12.

Also scoring were Alayah Hopkins and La’Kyriah Hamilton with 6 apiece, Chelsea Walker with 3, and Beasley and Keaton Crabtree with 2 each.

“Our bench stepped up and contributed as well. That’s been our biggest struggle. My first five get it done but we don’t have the depth. Tonight we actually brought the depth,” said the coach.

With state-ranked Fairfield (24-1) coming to town Friday, Johnson offers this advice to her players: “You can beat any team. Just play your game and don’t give up. We’re not going to go out there and just roll over and die just because it’s Fairfield.”

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Hudson wins Houston County Holiday Classic

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Delvin Walker 01All-Tournament performer Delvin Walker of Crockett goes to the basket against Coldspring Thursday in the Silver Bracket championship game at the Houston County Holiday Classic.By Larry Lamb
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CROCKETT – The championship game in the 2021 Houston County Holiday Classic came down to two class 4A teams, ending a two-year reign by tournament champion Crockett and runner-up Grapeland.

The Hudson Hornets upended district rival Palestine, 56-46, to claim this year's Gold Bracket trophy in the old Crockett High School gym Thursday night.

The last 2 1/2 games of the tournament were played in the old gym due to a bubble that developed in a section of the wood floor in the Andrew J. Hopkins Activity Center. School officials and coaches deemed that section of the court to be unsafe and the decision was made during halftime of the Crockett-Coldspring Silver Bracket game to finish the tournament in the old gym.

That decision suited Hudson coach and CHS alumnus Cannon Earp just fine since the old gym was the Bulldogs' home court during his high school career.

"This is a great gym and I have a lot of great memories from playing basketball in here. I love this place," Earp said fondly as he watched the Bulldogs play Coldspring before the Hornets’ championship game with Palestine.

Now, Earp has a coaching win to go along with his memories of playing in the old CHS gym.

Earp’s squad is ranked No. 25 in the TABC class 4A state poll and holds a 16-7 record after picking up five tournament wins.

In pool play, Hudson defeated Lovelady 58-30, Flatonia 73-65 and Crockett 52-40.

Palestine won its pool games over Crockett JV 95-38, Maypearl 70-51 and Trinity 58-25. 

Earlier in the day, Hudson beat China Spring, 41-36, and Palestine beat LaPoynor, 77-50, in the semifinals.

LaPoynor then edged China Spring, 66-62, for third place in the Gold Bracket.

The Holiday Classic was not held last year due to the pandemic, but tourney co-hosts Crockett and Grapeland finished as champion and runner-up, respectively, in the previous two years.

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Lovelady boys win district opener

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LOVELADY -- The Lovelady Lions started district play on the right foot with a 68-58 win over Slocum last Tuesday.

Sparked by Caleb Gilchrist's five buckets in the first quarter, the Lions grabbed a 16-9 lead.

Slade Murray had the hot hand in the second quarter, canning three baskets and a 3-pointer as the Lions outscored the Mustangs 22-17 to open up a 38-26 halftime lead.

Outscoring the Mustangs by two in the third quarter, the Lions carried a 59-45 lead into the fourth. Keivon Skinner heated up in the third quarter and pumped in nine points, including a trey. Murray tossed in seven while Jayton Crawford drained a 3-pointer and Gilchrist chipped in two.

Slocum outscored the Lions 13-9 in the final period but it wasn't enough.

Murray, who scored 16 in the middle quarters, finished with a team-high 18. 

After scoring 10 in the first quarter, Gilchrist went on to book 16 and Skinner rounded out double figures with 13.

Crawford scored 7 along with Cole Harris, who was 5 of 6 at the charity stripe.

Peyton Harrison scored 3, while Shaun Easterling and Skylar Pipkin both had 2.

The Lions made 13 of 22 at the line for 59% while the Mustangs hit 12 of 18 for 67%.

Slocum's scoring was led by Jose Molina with 20 points. He was a perfect 8 of 8 at the charity stripe.

After this week's Houston County Classic, the Lions continue district play at Leon on Tuesday, Jan. 4 and host Centerville on Jan. 7.

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Lady Lions roll to 3-0

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ButlerLovelady's Chelsea Butler shoots during last week's district game against Slocum. LAWANNA MONK PHOTOLOVELADY -- It was business as usual for the Lovelady Lady Lions when they hosted district rival Slocum last Tuesday.

Coach Kollyn McWhinney's squad headed into the holiday break undefeated  in district after their third straight lopsided win, 61-22.

In three district games, the No. 2-ranked Lady Lions have outscored their opponents 204-59.

After racing out to a 23-6 lead, the Lady Lions continued to dominate and held a 40-13 halftime advantage. It was 52-16 after the third.

Lexi Price rang up 12 points in the first quarter and finished with 22 points, including a pair of treys.

Aaliyah Jones, who drained three 3s, tossed in 15 and Mihyia Davis rounded out double figures with 10

Chelsea Butler and Shyanne Pipkin chipped in 4 apiece while Jada Johnson and Shelby Pugh each added 3.

Lovelady resumes district play on Tuesday Jan. 4 on the road against Leon. Centerville comes to town on Jan. 7.

Taking a break from district play, Lovelady girls won their first two games in the Tenaha Holiday Hoops Tournament on Monday.

The Lady Lions won their opener over Shelbyville, 61-40 and handled Chireno, 63-39, later in the day to advance to the semi-final on Tuesday.

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