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  • Playoff contenders (VIDEO)

    IMG 3597BRIAN BESCH | PCE Chris Washington leans in for the dunk attempt.

    By Brian Besch

    The Lions established an early lead with its defense versus Liberty Tuesday, winning a 61-35 contest over the Panthers.

    A 20-2 lead early in the second quarter was enough to allow Livingston to coast for a while. They did coast, and Liberty closed the advantage to 10 points at 25-15 early on in the third quarter. 

    "The first half, we played OK, but we still didn't play with a lot of energy," Livingston coach Calvin Phillips said. "Then, we came back in the second half and I thought we were going too slow. We talked about putting more man-to-man full court pressure on in the second half so we could get ourselves going. That kind of helped us out."

    The man-to-man defense indeed helped, as Livingston scored 23 points in the period to quell any chance of a Panther comeback. 

    Chris Washington led the way with a dozen points, while Izzy Enard had 11 and Julian Gardner added nine.

    "I will take a win any way that it goes," Phillips said. "We are back tied for fourth now and we've got Hamshire-Fannett. If we can get them, that would be a big win for us right there."

    Livingston fell to Hamshire-Fannett in the first round by seven points. The hope is they can take a week to prepare with an open date Friday and get a win that would propel the team into playoff contention. The Longhorns are currently tied for fourth place with the Lions. 

    Phillips said his first year as head coach at Livingston is not going how he planned.

    "I don't like where I am at, I will be upfront with you on that. When I stepped in the gym at the beginning of the year, I saw the size and athleticism of those guys. I thought we would probably be in the running. We started off 5-0 and dropped off and started playing very erratic. It's kind of been disappointing, but I will still take what we have. I am hoping that we will finish up strong and peak out in the second half and get some more wins."

    The coach said that he wonders if all of his athletes are committed to him or if they are still trying to figure him out the same way he is trying to figure them out.

    "They don't know how to take me. I get on them hard sometimes and in this time and age, some kids don't take that kind of coaching anymore. You have to be more positive and not run them so much in a negative mode. I'm learning them and they are learning me, and if we can get in that fourth spot (playoff seed), that would be a blessing."

    The coach said in order to reach the postseason, his team's shooting would need to improve so the half-court offense can be more productive. The team now relies heavily on its defense to create offense.

    After the road trip to Hamshire-Fannett Tuesday, the Lions will host district leaders Huffman Hargrave next Friday.

  • Big Sandy ends season in regional tournament

    IMG 5256BRIAN BESCH | PCE Elias Bullock shoots from 15 feet out.

    By Brian Besch

    One of the state’s top teams needed every minute Tuesday to defeat Big Sandy, as LaPoynor escaped Central Heights High School with a 53-50 win in the regional semifinals.

    With just 15 seconds to play and a tie score at 50 each, LaPoynor worked the ball into the post, where the bucket was made with a foul. The free throw was good and the Wildcats had one last chance.

    Inbounding at half court with 12 seconds to go, a Flyer steal sealed the contest.

    “I'm really proud of the kids and how we competed tonight,” Big Sandy coach Kevin Foster said. “You know that you're playing the fourth ranked team in the state and the kids came out and played really hard. I think that probably the biggest factor in the game was we defended well, but the thing that hurt us the entire game was turnovers.

    We had some very uncharacteristic turnovers and I give them credit for that.

    “Our decision-making was poor and it is tough to win games like that when you turn the ball over and we still had a chance. I told them in the locker room that the first three playoff games could have gone either way for the most part. We were able to make plays down the stretch and tonight they made plays. That's what those close games come down to.” 

    The Wildcats led after one quarter and were down just a field goal at halftime. They held leads in the fourth quarter, when momentum shifted often.

    A big factor keeping the ‘Cats in the game was excellent free throw shooting. They were 17-for-20 at the charity stripe. Adrian Thompson led Big Sandy with 14 points, Kaden Foster had 10 and Dante Williams had nine in his final high school game.

    Williams, Josiah Celestine and Weston Mayer will move on after finishing their senior year of high school.

    “(They are) just a tremendous group of kids, first of all. Not even talking about basketball,” Foster said of his seniors.

    “They are just a good group of kids that are very dependable. They are going to go on and do good things in life. At the end of the day, I think that is the most important thing. I'm very proud of the seniors and I am going to miss them. They were just a lot of fun to be around.” 

    IMG 5250BRIAN BESCH | PCE Seth Beene-Williams shoots over and around defenders.

    A team that did not have all of its players until the final seven games of the season, the Wildcats peaked at the right time to become one of the better 2A teams in Texas. They were able to defeat the No. 10 team in the state and were a bucket away from the state’s No. 4 team.

    “If you would have told me that this team would be in the regional semifinals and not only make it here, but play the fourth-ranked team in the state and have a chance to win in under a minute, I would have said you were crazy. But these kids keep battling and fighting and they played together. They are just the true definition of a team. If you can do that, you can accomplish a lot.”

  • Big Sandy moves to third round (VIDEO)

    IMG 5025BRIAN BESCH | PCE Big Sandy takes on Woden.

    By Brain Besch

    Big Sandy is now area champions after defeating Woden 59-53 Thursday at Hudson High School.

    The Eagles posed many problems, with an athletic group that shoots well. The game would come down to a battle of free throws. The Wildcats were up to the challenge, hitting 19-of-25 from the charity stripe.

    "Honestly, I thought the game was going to be a little more up and down than it was," Big Sandy coach Kevin Foster said. "Woden really presses a lot and likes to get out and run. They did that early, then they got out of it and really didn't go back to it until they had to.

    "It really turned into kind of a half-court type of game. Those types of games can go either way. We just had one run where we were able to get the lead and hold on to it a little bit."

    Leading the way for Big Sandy was Adrian Thompson with 14 points and Kaden Foster with 13. Also scoring 13 was Josiah Celestine, who came off the bench to provide a deep shooting threat with four 3-pointers.

    "We need Josiah because he can really shoot the ball," Foster said. "Last game, it was a man and full-court pressure type of game. I had to have my better ball handlers out there, so he didn't really see a lot of action. I knew tonight that he was going to get more minutes. He made some big shots for us."

    The Eagles spread their points amongst eight players, with Chance Lawson scoring 15 on five 3-pointers and Chandler Britton had 13 points.

    "It is kind of a different guy for them every night," Foster said of preparing for Woden. "You really couldn't focus on one. They can shoot the ball really well and we knew that coming in."

    Outscoring Woden 15-5 in the second quarter would have an impact on the outcome. With each squad in the bonus during the fourth period, free throw shooting was also key. The 'Cats were 12-for-16 at the line in the fourth. Woden was 7-for-11 in that same span, to keep the contest close.

    "We've had times this year where we have struggled and we have lost games because we would go 7-for-21 from the line. Then we would have games where we were 16-for-19," the coach said. "I feel like lately our free throw shooting has gotten more consistent, which this is the time of year that you want it to be. I knew it was going to be a very physical game and both teams got in the double bonus in the second half."

    The Wildcats will move on to play Garrison in the regional quarterfinal round. The Bulldogs are champions of District 22-2A and nabbed a win over Tenaha Thursday.

  • Big Sandy stings Hornets

    IMG 2267PHOTO BY BRIAN BESCH I PCE Weston Mayer puts up two of his game-leading 17 points for the Big Sandy Wildcats.

    By Brian Besch

    The Big Sandy Wildcats had no trouble disposing of Goodrich Tuesday with a 79-4 win.

    The ‘Cats were dominant from the beginning, establishing a 40-0 advantage before Goodrich could get on the board late in the second quarter. It was the Hornets’ first game of the year and a tough draw against a team that has a running start and has played a few large schools.

    “I told our kids it was going to be like this,” Goodrich coach Lester King said. “You have to play hard and I just wanted to see some hustle. They are young and they are freshmen.”

    King's lone senior went down in the first half with an apparent ankle injury, leaving five inexperienced Hornets on the floor to fend for themselves. With Garzon down, Goodrich had four freshmen and a sophomore that did not play last year on the floor without a bench.

    “Garzon is the only senior and we have to get ready for January,” King said. “Some kids have to learn the hard way and they think they are ready to play and really good, but it is all about defense and hustle. We didn't have any defense out there tonight and we didn't have any hustle. We are going to get better at that. This is just embarrassing, but we are going to get better at defense and hustle. You got to work at this game. This is good for them. Now they see.”

    For Big Sandy, they have played up in classification versus southeast Texas schools in Orangefield and, most recently, Bridge City.

    “It was our first game back since a loss on Tuesday and coming off of Thanksgiving, so it was good to knock off the rust a little bit,” Big Sandy coach Kevin Foster said. “With Covid, I've kind of broken everything into small seasons. We had five games before Thanksgiving, this is our first of seven before christmas, so we are trying to break everything down into small seasons.”

    All nine Wildcats put up points Tuesday, led by Weston Mayer with 17, Dante Williams with 14 and Kaden Foster with 10. For Goodrich, Exavier Henderson had both buckets.

    Big Sandy as a group looked polished after a more uneven performance in Onalaska a few weeks before. Jumpers were falling, passes were crisp and the defense fought hard to keep the Hornets off the scoreboard.

    “In the second half, we really try to focus on the execution side of things. I thought we did some of that,” Foster said. “We will keep practicing and getting better and we’ve got a lot of improvement to make.”

  • Bulldogs knock down 12 treys in blasting Elkhart

    IMG 0767LARRY LAMB | HCC Crockett’s Delvin Walker launches one of his seven three-pointers against Elkhart in the district opener.

    By Larry Lamb

    You’d never know the Crockett Bulldogs had only played two games before their district opener.

    The Bulldogs swooshed in 12 three-point shots as they raced past Elkhart 86-39 Tuesday, Dec. 15 at The Hop in Crockett.

    “This was only our third game with probably just 15 practices,” said Bulldog head coach Jordan Caldwell, noting that Elkhart had played eight games and came in with a 4-4 record.

    The Bulldogs jumped out to a 25-10 first quarter lead and increased it to 50-29 by halftime. Outscoring the Elks 18-9 in the last two quarters, Crockett carried a 68-28 lead into the final period.

    The Bulldogs put on a three-point shooting clinic behind junior Delvin Walker, who buried seven from behind the arc. Jadyn Collins drained two while Tayshawn Simon, Ty White and Ja’Lyne Carruthers each nailed a trey for a team total of 12.

    Walker finished with 25 points to pace the Bulldogs. White tossed in 13 points, all in the first half, while Keshun Easterling and Jadyn Collins booked 11 and 10 points, respectively.

    Rounding out the scoring were Chris Purvis with eight, Courtney Byrd six, Carruthers four and Simon three. Carlester Nealy, Bre’Dron Tucker and Jalen Patton chipped in two apiece.

    Elkhart sophomore Cale Starr pumped in five treys and accounted for 28 of the Elks’ 39 points.

    “I’m very satisfied with the way we played tonight. As a unit everybody did good. Elkhart played a heck of a game,” Caldwell continued.

    He said individual standouts were Delvin Walker with his seven three-pointers, point guard Ty White and guard Tayshawn Simon. “Delvin’s only a junior so his future playing basketball is very bright,” added Caldwell.

    Caldwell noted the Bulldogs only practiced once before their 56-36 season opener loss New Waverly.

    “Hats off to New Waverly. They’re a great team,” said Caldwell, noting that New Waverly has earned a spot in the state polls. New Waverly (9-1) was ranked No. 14 in the TABC poll issued Dec. 21. Crockett was ranked No. 7 in early polls but has since dropped out.

    “We’re still learning. We’re obviously young but we have a lot of players who came back. I think we definitely have the potential to go far,” said Caldwell.

    The Bulldogs (3-1, 2-0) closed out pre-holiday action by beating district rival Groesbeck 87-46 on Dec.18.

    Before resuming district play Jan. 5 at Buffalo, Crockett will travel to Pollok Central Dec. 29 and host a varsity home game Dec. 31 at noon against the East Texas Archers, a team comprised of homeschool students in the Lovelady area.

  • Coldspring runs past Shepherd, 73-51

                                   JASON CHLAPEK I PCE Coldspring-Oakhurst guard Duke Lawniczak (with ball) puts up a shot in traffic against a host of Shepherd defenders.

    By JASON CHLAPEK

    COLDSPRING — It was nothing new for the Coldspring-Oakhurst and Shepherd boys basketball teams when they faced each other last week in Coldspring.

    The Pirates operated out of a half-court set and got the ball inside to 6-foot-11 post Bradley Davis, while the Trojans ran and pressed. In the end, Coldspring’s full-court press proved to be too much for Shepherd as the Trojans forced 42 turnovers, including 33 steals, to run past the Pirates, 73-51, on Dec. 1.

    “We always press,” Coldspring coach Greg Devers said. “That’s our thing since we’ve always been here. Two years ago, we averaged about 99 points a game in district. Last year in the state semifinal, we pressed the No. 1 team in the state (Dallas Madison). That’s our bread and butter. We don’t like to get in a half-court game. We like to play up-tempo and take as many shots as we can.”

    Shepherd coach Jeremy Bennett knew what to expect as well. He also said last week’s game wasn’t the first time his team saw the full-court press.

    “They’ve been pressing since forever and it’s nothing we haven’t seen,” Bennett said. “Every team we’ve seen has pressed us.”

    The presence of Davis is one of the main reasons why teams press the Pirates. Nonetheless, the senior post still recorded a triple-double — 24 points, 13 rebounds, 10 blocks.

    The main culprit for Shepherd’s turnovers may not have been Coldspring’s full-court press, however. It may have been the absence of point guard Trey Stacey.

    “One thing that hurt us is we didn’t have our starting point guard,” Bennett said. “That hurt us with turnovers. He was in close contact with someone who tested positive. Trase Thiessen has handled the ball for us. It hurt a lot not having him. We got after them, but not having our full roster hurt us. I’d love to play them again with my full roster. It might be a different story.”

    The Pirates led once in the contest, 13-12, late in the first quarter. But the Trojans closed out the quarter on a 6-2 run, which included a buzzer-beating 3-pointer from Luke Monroe, to take an 18-15 lead after one frame of play.

    Monroe’s 3-pointer was the start of a 13-0 run for Coldspring (4-0), who built a 28-15 lead that would not be relinquished. The Trojans led 34-23 at the half and 54-41 after three quarters.

    Duke Lawniczak led all scorers with 37 points for Coldspring. Cameron Shaw-Rucker had a double-double with 11 points and 10 steals to go with seven assists, while Dante Eldridge chipped in with 11 points and nine rebounds.

    “Practice makes perfect and I watch Trae Young a lot and the way he flicks his wrist,” Lawniczak said. “Just pray that it goes in. I like to go in the paint, but I like to take the shot when I feel like I have it. We need to play with the same energy. We’ve won district every year since I was a freshman. We haven’t lost a game in district and I pray that we can do it again.”

    Shepherd (5-2) also received 8 points and 10 rebounds from Dillen Johnson. Carlos Renovato and Christian Castillo also contributed with 8 and 7 points, respectively.

    The Pirates bounced back from their loss at Coldspring with a 56-40 victory at Madisonville last Saturday. Davis led the way with 22 points and 15 rebounds, while Johnson and Renovato had 13 and 10 points, respectively.

    Prior to last week’s loss, Shepherd’s only other defeat was a 64-53 setback at the hands of Class 5A Kingwood Park. The Pirates also have victories against defending 2A state champion Shelbyville; 5A teams Montgomery and Cleveland; and fellow 4A West Orange-Stark.

    Coldspring followed up its double-digit win with a pair of nail biting victories against 4A programs Bridge City and Orangefield last week. The Trojans defeated BC, 65-59, last Thursday and edged Orangefield, 64-62, last Saturday.

    In the win against BC, Lawniczak led with 28 points, while Eldridge recorded a double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Statistics were not available from the win at Orangefield.

    “This is my sixth year at Coldspring,” Devers said. “I like to press — 32 minutes of full-court pressing. We pressed when I was at Manvel and Stafford. I learned it from Earl Berry at Channelview. There was a year where we scored 100 points 14 times in a season.”

    After qualifying for the state tournament a year ago, the Trojans seem to be in reloading mode as opposed to rebuilding.

    “Our record the last two years is 71-9 and my junior varsity’s record is 40-3,” Devers said. “I have four returnees — all four of them start. I also have three move-ins that have helped us out as well. I have 11 guys who I can put on the court and they’re going to give 120 percent.”

    The biggest obstacle isn’t an opponent on Coldspring’s schedule, according to Devers, who’s team hosts 2A No. 1 Martins Mill at 12:30 p.m. Saturday. It’s Covid-19.

    “Our schedule changes every day and every time I receive a phone call from a coach, I think he’s going to cancel,” Devers said. “Anytime an administrator comes into my classroom, I think one of my players has Covid. We’re playing it day-by-day right now.”

  • Coming back to win

    IMG 4067BRIAN BESCH | PCE

    By Brian Besch

    The Goodrich Lady Hornets staged a fourth-quarter comeback to pull off a 49-41 upset over rival Leggett Tuesday night. 

    Leggett had an impressive shooting performance in the third quarter. The visiting Lady Pirates hit five shots from behind the arc to take a 34-25 advantage going into the final period. 

    "We had to go man because we were letting them shoot too many threes," Goodrich coach Khadijah Carter said. "I told them that we have to play tight defense. Once we get the ball on offense, get the ball inside and just go."

    They Lady Hornets did just that. The defense never let up, and the team used a size advantage to rebound and collect points near the rim.

    "Size made a huge difference," Carter said. "I told them if we could get the ball inside, they cannot stop us. No team can really stop us inside, but we've got to get the ball inside first."

    Goodrich went on a 12-1 run to open the fourth quarter and take their first lead of the contest at 37-35 with 3:55 remaining. 



    "In the second half, we got too relaxed and there was a big swing," Lady Pirate coach Terri Barlow said. "Goodrich wanted it more than us. We had too many turnovers and we really weren't in it.

    "Rebounding killed us, it gets us every time with the inside game. We really can't stop the inside game."

    Goodrich was led by Brionna Passmore, who was tops in the game with 24 points. Latrina Morgan had 11. Erika Hansen was the high point for Leggett, scoring 20. Kylie Valderez had nine points on three long-range jumpers.

    This marks the third district win for Goodrich, with the first two coming over Burkeville. The first-year coach said it is the biggest win of her young career to this point.

    The loss knocks Leggett down to fourth place in district. The Lady pirates we'll need to win their in their final three games over Chester, Burkeville and High Island to have a shot at the postseason.

    "When we got down going into the fourth, that kind of made me nervous," Carter said. "Even though we missed a lot of free throws and a few careless passes, I feel like this may be our best game."

  • Completing series sweep (VIDEO)

    IMG 4148BRIAN BESCH | PCE

    By Brian Besch

    The Leggett Pirates scratched out an early lead and maintained an advantage in their annual road game at Goodrich, winning 53-39 Tuesday. 

    Behind a 29-point performance from Chase Parrish, the Pirates played well on both ends of the court. The Hornets struggled to consistently score, ultimately failing to keep pace with the defending district champs.

    "We played good, I am proud of our team and we played good team ball," Leggett coach Sean Edwards said. "We played fundamentally sound and we are blocking out a little more to get rebounds. We kind of let up a little bit and gave up some cheap fouls later.

    "We are playing more team ball and limiting our turnovers a little bit more. We're going inside and drawing some more fouls. It is the second half of district, so we will be alright."

    Pirate Garrett Francois had 10 first-half points and 11 for the game, while Varian Flournoy added six. For Goodrich, Joacxi Garzon had 19 points and Isaiah Sapio had eight.



    After a lone 3-pointer in the first period, Parrish filled the stat book over the next three frames.

    For Goodrich, the year has been a struggle. There has been inconsistencies in team chemistry and a lack of experience. 

    They did improve as the game progressed. Totaling just 13 points in the first half, they scored 10 and 16 points in the third and fourth quarter, respectively.

    "You've got to rebound and play defense," Goodrich coach Lester King said. "We have had a hard time all year long scoring. The game was kind of good at the beginning, but they just out-hustled us and they wanted it more than we did. We didn't want it.

    "The only difference between them and us tonight was they played defense and hustled when we didn't play any. You can't win like that."

    If the Pirates win their remaining games, it could cause a three-way tie with Chirino and Zavala.

    Edwards said he believes his team can run through the rest of the district schedule unscathed.

    "I think we can. I believe in my guys and they are helping me out. I always get feedback from the kids and they always know what's going on when they are on the court. They tell me what we need to do. I think we can win the next five games. We are finally improving and we are peaking. We are getting better and better."

  • CORRIGAN-CAMDEN FALLS TO ELKHART (VIDEO)

    IMG 2722BRIAN BESCH | PCE The Corrigan-Camden Bulldogs playing Elkhart on Friday December 11, 2020 on the north end of Polk County.

    COSTLY MISTAKES

    BY BRIAN BESCH

    CORRIGAN — The Corrigan-Camden Bulldogs lost a fourth-quarter lead to Elkhart and eventually the game 46-41 Friday on the north end of Polk County.

    Trailing for much of the contest, the ‘Dogs slowly narrowed the gap in each quarter after the first.

    “I thought we played well enough to win. We just didn't execute late in the game, which caused us to lose,” Corrigan-Camden coach Andrew Kirkindoff said. “I think it is kind of the same story. We play well enough, but in crunch time, we end up turning the ball over, making mistakes that cost us. I tell them all the time that it is our mistakes that is causing us to lose games. We are playing well enough, we just have to fix us.”

    Corrigan-Camden versus Elkhart video

    The Bulldogs looked a bit hurried on possessions early on, falling behind on the scoreboard.

    Corrigan-Camden then seemed to run its offense well in the fourth quarter, patiently passing the ball and looking for open attempts. They took the lead and held it for nearly half the period. A quick run by Elkhart frustrated the Bulldogs, causing them to again settle for outside shots.

    “I think that is just that we are young and starting a freshman. Most of the other ones are sophomores and a junior. Most of them are young and played JV last year, so it is just experience. I knew that there were going to be some Growing Pains early, but hopefully we can get this out of the way now and when we get to District we will be able to overcome them.

    Tony Cooper led the Bulldogs with 15 points, Braylan Harrell had nine and Tra Thomas had eight. For Elkhart, R.J. Moore was tops on the night with 21 points, Cale Starr had nine and Josh Davis added eight.

    The Bulldogs now sit at 2-4, with both wins coming in the last week. They defeated the Oilers of West Hardin (57-47) and Chireno (53-51).

    The next game for Corrigan-Camden will come on the road Tuesday, as they face Alpha Omega Academy in Huntsville.

  • Crockett boys edge Madisonville in home debut

    IMG 0570LARRY LAMB | HCC Madisonville’s Casey Holliday (4) tries to wrestle the ball away from Crockett’s Chris Purvis-Torres during a non-district game Tuesday, Dec. 8 at The Hop. The Bulldogs won 48-44 to even their record at 1-1.

    By Larry Lamb

    Crockett and Madisonville’s hardwood reunion after a two-year hiatus exceeded fans’ expectations.

    The Bulldogs fended off the class 4A Mustangs in the closing minutes to win their home opener 48-44 Tuesday, Dec. 8 at The Hop.

    Madisonville had an early 9-7 lead but never led again as Crockett went ahead 15-11 at the end of the first quarter.

    The Mustangs got within a point several times over the next three quarters, but Crockett led 24-19 at the break and 35-31 at the end of three.

    After Madisonville opened the fourth with a bucket to make it a two-point game, Delvin Walker heaved in a three-pointer and Jadyn Collins canned a bucket to put Crockett up 40-33 with 6:27 left.

    After the Mustangs cut it to five, Walker slammed down a dunk to put Crockett up 42-35 with 5:15 to go.

    Back-to-back buckets by Madisonville made it a three-point game before Tayshawn Simon swooshed in a trey to give the Bulldogs some breathing room with a 45-39 lead at the 3:30 mark.

    The Mustangs refused to go away quietly, scoring two straight buckets and a free throw to get within a point, 45-44, with 2:41 left.

    After several scoreless possessions by both teams, Walker went back to the hole with :30 left to give Crockett a three-point cushion. Simon went to the line with :18 left and hit the front end of a one-and-one for a 48-44 lead.

    Madisonville missed the front end of a one-and-one with :13 left but got the rebound and put up an errant shot that was knocked out of bounds. The Bulldogs inbounded with :11 left and ran out the clock.

    Six Bulldogs scored, but none were able to crack double figures. Collins (1 trey), Simon (2 treys) and Walker (1 trey) scored nine apiece. Chris Purvis-Torres had eight, Tyvondrick White seven (1 trey) and Courtney Byrd rounded out the scoring with six.

    Madisonville’s Casey Holliday was the only double-digit scorer for either team with 16.

    This was only the second game for the Bulldogs while the Mustangs had already played six games.

    After starting their district schedule against Elkhart and Groesbeck before the holiday break, the Bulldogs will sandwich in a pair of non-district games with Pollok Central on the road Tuesday, Dec. 29 and East Texas Archers of Lovelady at home on Dec. 31. The Archers team is comprised of home school athletes in the area.

    Crockett gets back to district action Jan. 5 at Buffalo.

  • Crockett knocks off unbeaten Malakoff

    IMG 1146LARRY LAMB | HCC Crockett senior Ty White glides to the basket during the Bulldogs’ 60-57 area round victory over Malakoff.

    By Larry Lamb

    Malakoff came into the area round unbeaten and ranked No. 9 in the state but the Crockett Bulldogs weren’t intimidated.

    Coach Jordan Caldwell’s squad toppled the Tigers 60-57 Thursday night in Palestine and advanced to the third round for a clash with No. 14 Lorena at noon Saturday in College Station.

    Closing out the first quarter with an 8-0 run, the Bulldogs took a 15-5 lead.

    Malakoff got within seven in the second quarter but trailed 27-16 at halftime.

    The Tigers started the third quarter by rattling off six unanswered points to make it a five-point game. Crockett answered with its own 6-0 spurt to push the lead back to 11, however, Malakoff got within six on two other occasions.

    Falling behind 41-33 with 2:36 left, the Tigers staged an 8-1 run to make it a one-point game with :42 left.

    Crockett scored with :25 left in the third to go up 44-41.

    The Bulldogs pulled away in the fourth with an 11-2 run that stretched their lead to 55-43 with 3:44 left.

    Senior Ty White splashed in a three-pointer and a deuce while senior Chris Purvis canned a bucket for a nine-point lead with 4:17 left.

    The Tigers called a timeout and then heaved up a three-pointer that rolled around the rim several times before falling out.

    After Purvis grabbed the rebound, White was fouled with 3:44 left and went to the line for two technical shots and two free throws. He nailed three of four, putting Crockett up by 12.

    Baskets by Tayshawn Simon and D.J. Walker kept the Bulldogs in front by 11 with 1:20 left, but Malakoff finished strong with a 9-1 run that included a pair of buckets and five-of-six free throw shooting to close the gap to three with 11.4 seconds left.

    The Bulldogs, who only made one of seven at the line down the stretch, missed an opportunity for two insurance free throws with 3.6 seconds left.

    But their three-point lead was enough to punch their ticket to the third round.

    White, seven of 11 at the line, led the scoring with 16 points. Walker tossed in 11 and Jadyn Collins rounded out double figures with 10.

    Courtney Byrd finished with nine, all in the first half. Purvis had six and Keshun Easterling had four while Simon and Ja’Lyne Carruthers chipped in two apiece.

    The Bulldogs made 13 of 27 free throws for 48 percent and Malakoff hit 17 of 32 for 53 percent.

    Nathan Jones led Malakoff with 16 and Jay Mosley had 14. Klayton Copeland, nine of 13 at the line, followed with 13. Karter Fuller, who fouled out with 3:41 left, scored seven.

    “We knew 24 (Copeland) and 4 (Fuller) were their best players. I’ll take losing but I’m not going to let just one or two players beat me. I know both are a heck of a player but I’ve got 13 guys on my team,” said coach Caldwell. “We mainly focused on 24 defensively. They had several people in foul trouble early and that helped us a lot.”

    “We came out slow in the second half and Malakoff went on that run. We had some guys that were making mistakes and getting down on themselves. I told the guys at this point it’s win or go home, so they rallied together and we got the W as a team. That’s what matters,” added Caldwell.

  • Crockett nips Rogers in bi-district

    IMG 1055LARRY LAMB | HCC Crockett sophomore Jadyn Collins (2) celebrates with teammate Courtney Byrd after a go-ahead bucket by Collins with six seconds left. The Bulldogs won the bi-district game 49-47.

    By Larry Lamb

    The Crockett Bulldogs dug themselves an early 12-0 hole, climbed all the way out and squeezed past Rogers 49-47 in bi-district basketball action Tuesday, Feb. 23 in Bryan.

    With the game tied at 47-all, sophomore Jadyn Collins converted an offensive rebound and putback with :06 left to give Crockett a two-point cushion.

    A deflection by Collins on a last-second trey by Rogers sealed the victory.

    “Rogers is a tough team. They played hard all the way down the stretch. I was telling my guys that we don’t need a repeat of the Franklin game,” coach Jordan Caldwell said in reference to a buzzer shot that lifted district champion Franklin to a 52-51 victory over the Bulldogs.

    The Bulldogs trailed 14-4 after a quarter but dominated the second 16-5 to slip in front 20-19 at intermission.

    Caldwell’s crew opened up a five-point lead late in the third only to see Rogers drain a three-pointer in the waning seconds to make it 34-32 heading into the final period.

    Early in the fourth Rogers wrestled its way in front 35-34 on a three-point play but Crockett answered with its own to regain the lead with 6:05 left.

    The rest of the game was a back-and-forth battle. Crockett never trailed, but Rogers tied the score four times.

    Crockett took its biggest lead of 45-40 on a putback by “big man” Chris Purvis and a three-point play by Collins at the 3:34 mark.

    Rogers hit a trey on its next possession and tied it at 45-all with 2:18 left.

    After a travelling call on Crockett gave Rogers possession, the Eagles put up an errant shot. Ja’Lyne Carruthers grabbed the rebound, took it down the floor and sank a shot off the glass to put the Dogs up 47-43 with 1:20 left.

    When Rogers tied it back up at 47-all with 55 seconds left it appeared the battle would go into overtime.

    Crockett ran down the clock to :14 before Carruthers drove the lane and put up a shot that rolled around the rim and out.

    But luckily, Collins collected the rebound and put the ball in for the game-winning bucket with six seconds left.

    This was only Crockett’s third game with its roster back at full-strength after playing half of its district schedule with a skeleton crew.

    The rust was evident early as the Dogs, plagued by turnovers and missed shots, didn’t dent the scoreboard until the 1:45 mark in the first quarter. Sophomore Courtney Byrd broke the scoring drought and junior D.J. Walker converted a steal into a layup with 10 seconds left, but the Bulldogs still faced a 14-4 deficit at the end of the quarter.

    Rogers seemingly couldn’t miss a shot in the first quarter but then couldn’t hit the mark in the second as the momentum shifted to Crockett.

    After being held scoreless in the first half, Collins booked 12 points after halftime to lead the offense.

    Walker finished with nine, followed by Carruthers with seven, Ty White and Purvis with six apiece, Byrd with five, and Tayshawn Simon and Keshun Easterling with two each.

    Senior Ben Hutka and junior Kade Sebek led Rogers with 15 and 11 points, respectively.

    The Bulldogs made seven of 11 free throws while Rogers hit seven of nine. Most of Rogers’ free throws were by senior Ty Sebek, who knocked down six of seven.

    Caldwell was encouraged by the resiliency his team exhibited.

    “For the most part my guys never gave up but we still have a lot of work to do,” said Caldwell. “We started off horrible and got down 12-0. Then we went on a 20-7 run to take the lead at halftime.

    “We started playing our style of basketball and pushing the ball. I told the guys if you make a mistake just be sure you’re moving fast. I think that was the difference late in the game. We kept pushing the ball and then we started getting some rebounds at the bottom too.

    “We’ll be okay. We just have to keep playing hard and fighting hard,” said Caldwell, whose team faced undefeated No. 9 Malakoff in the area round Thursday.

  • Defense, defense, defense (VIDEO)

    IMG 5123BRIAN BESCH | PCE Dante Williams drives to the bucket.

    Big Sandy defeats state-ranked Garrison, advances to regional semifinals

    Watch the video here:

    By Brian Besch

    "I don't even know where to begin with this game," Big Sandy coach Kevin Foster said after the win over Garrison. "If we play them 10 times, we maybe beat them once. I told the kids we don't have to be better than them, we just have to be better than them tonight."

    By playing incredible defense and taking care of the basketball, Big Sandy was better than Garrison Saturday night, winning by a score of 32-28.

    Rarely turning the ball over, blocking out on every shot and constantly harassing the Bulldog offense, Big Sandy had just enough to defeat the No. 10 2A team in Texas.

    Two field goals and four free throws were all the Bulldog offense could muster in the first half. However, Garrison also played well on the defensive end, leading to a 13-8 score at halftime.

    IMG 5148BRIAN BESCH | PCE Josiah Celestine shoots a baseline jumper.

    "Fortunately, they didn't shoot the ball well, because they normally shoot it very well," Foster said. "Our kids stuck to our game plan.

    "We lost the lead and I'm so proud of them because we kept our composure and were able to hang on and make a play late. That's what these games come down to, whoever can make a play late. We were able to do it and I can't believe we are in the regional semifinals."

    Garrison trailed for much of the game and was down a bucket at 40-38 to begin the fourth quarter.

    Within a minute, they took the lead in what would be in a nail-biting final period.

    "We knew we needed to cover (Dayton Dewberry) and (Risten Cook), because they can shoot it," Foster said. "The rest of the guys can shoot, but we were going to take our chances with that and really try to crowd the paint. (Freddy Christopher) is so explosive and quick, we didn't want to let him get to where he needed to be. We did that for the most part. Coach (Darren) Cook is a great coach and he adjusted in the second half. He ran some hi-low stuff and was able to get it to them.

    IMG 5151BRIAN BESCH | PCE Adrian Thompson puts up a 3-pointer from the corner.

    With 20 seconds left to play, the Wildcats were clinging to a 30-28 advantage. Adrian Thompson knocked down two free throws, making it a two-possession contest.

    It would be all the stingy Wildcat defense would need to move on to the regional semifinals.

    Elias Bullock and Adrian Thompson led Big Sandy with eight points each. Risten Cook led Garrison with 10 points and Brad Reynolds had eight.

    LaPoynor will be the next opponent, as the two teams will meet Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Central Heights High School.

  • Fast start, press lifts Big Sandy

    IMG 2454BRIAN BESCH I PCE Alexis Thompson of Big Sandy drives to the basket. She had 22 points Friday.

    By Brian Besch

    LEGGETT - The Big Sandy Lady Cats established a large early lead and coasted to a road victory Friday night, beating the Lady Pirates of Leggett, 83-15.

    The Wildcats grabbed a 33-0 lead before Leggett was able to connect on a free throw late in the opening period. The first quarter was a festival of layups off of turnovers. The Big Sandy press smothered Leggett, robbing them of most possessions before the Lady Pirates could set up an offense.



    “We get in a rush when they start pressing,” Leggett coach Terri Barlow said. “We get in a rush and just throw the ball away. It is just simple little mistakes that we keep making over and over. I feel like we are going to be OK during district. These are tough teams that we are losing to like this.”

    Leggett has scheduled non-district games versus schools as big as Class 4A to prepare for district. They are currently 1-5, but have yet to play a school from Class 1A.

    To this point, Barlow said she likes the speed that her team possesses, but says they struggle with turnovers.

    “I told them to hold their heads up and not to worry about it and keep playing hard,” Barlow said. “It is an important game, but the most important games are the district games. I don't mind getting beat, but I just told them to not give up and keep working. When you quit on me, that is when you are a loser. If you keep playing hard, you are still a winner.”

    Erika Hansen led the Lady Pirates with seven points. For Big Sandy, sophomore Alexis Thompson had 22 points and freshman Faith Geller had 20. Savanna Poncho added 14 points, Baili Mitchell had 12 and Savannah Hoffman scored 11.

    “I thought early in the game we came out and played well,” Big Sandy coach Ryan Alec said. “We tell the kids when the ball is tipped, you have to play well early. You have to set a precedent in the beginning of the game. Our press had a lot to do with that. As the course of the game progressed, I thought our decision making wasn't as good. I think a lot of that was probably from fatigue. In the first half we did a good job of executing on offense and finding open people. We got turnovers and capitalized on those turnovers and was able to get some layups out of it.”

    Big Sandy has performed well of late, though fighting to keep a consistent roster for various reasons. The Lady Cats were only able to suit up seven girls Friday.

    “Defensively, I felt like we could have done a better job of keeping their best player in front of us,” Alec said. “We had a plan of trying to get the ball out of her hands and I thought at times we were successful in doing that. Other times, we let her split us and get to the basket. It was good preparation for us because once we get into district, we have Broaddus that has good guards and West Sabine.”

  • Goodrich rides second half play to victory (VIDEO)

    IMG 3640COURTESY PHOTO

    The Goodrich Lady Hornets got a spark in the locker room that vaulted the team to a comfortable 51-24 win Friday over Burkeville.

    The Lady Hornets led 13-10 at the half, but received some “encouragement” to play with increased intensity in the final two frames.

    “I told them that Monday it would be tough,” Khadijah Carter said of the next practice. “I told them mostly just to get the ball inside. They cannot stop us inside and we are more of an inside team than an outside team. We needed to play good defense and that is what we did.”

    The Lady Hornets got to the basket with urgency in the second half, creating points with both its offense and off turnovers. The result was a 22-point third quarter and 16 points in the final period — both more than they collected in all of the first half.

    Latrina Morgan led all scores with 30 points, Breya Passmore had 13 and Aralyn Angel had six. The Lady Mustangs never accumulated more than eight points in a quarter.

    Carter says the season has been a little bit rough for her kids, but believes that her young group has done some growing up over the past few months.

    “This is our second district win,” Carter said. “The first game wasn't by as many (44-35) as we beat them this time. I feel like we have improved even since last game. The competition was a different level.”

    Carter said the team's ability to see inside and find the open player has improved. Though her group rushes at times, the coach likes the pace which the Lady Hornets are beginning to play.

    “We are taking our time moving the ball, finding the holes, getting open and passing it when we need to.”

  • Grapeland eyes state crown

     MG 5696PHOTO BY MARSHA COOK Grapeland sophomore Riley Murchison drains one of his six 3-pointers over Schulenburg’s Keisean Johnson in the state semifinal Tuesday.

    By Larry Lamb

    The Grapeland Sandies are one win away from bringing home the school’s second boys basketball state championship.

    The Sandies (29-1) handled Schulenburg 74-60 in the state semifinal Tuesday night in Aldine ISD’s Campbell Center and advanced to the Class 2A championship game against Clarendon (24-4) Saturday in San Antonio. Tip-off is 10 a.m. in the Alamodome.

    Since winning the 1985 state crown, Grapeland has made tournament appearances in 1999, 2001, 2014 and 2017 but hasn’t been able to get past the semifinal round.

    Now that the 2021 Sandies have crashed through the semifinal barrier, the Clarendon Broncos are the last obstacle to the gold.

    Clarendon, located in the panhandle east of Amarillo, beat Lipan 68-47 in the state semifinal.

    This is Clarendon’s fifth appearance in the state tournament but the Broncos have never won a title.

    Both Grapeland and Clarendon reached the Final Four in 2017 and lost to Muenster. Muenster beat the Sandies 56-52 (OT) in the state semifinal and then knocked off Clarendon 73-45 in the championship game.

    In addition to a trip to state in 2010, Clarendon made two appearances in 1968 and 1969 as a class 1A school. Clarendon’s ’69 team fell to Kennard in the championship game.

    With the state crown on the line Saturday, Grapeland hopes to duplicate the first quarter offensive firestorm it unleashed against Schulenburg.

    Paced by Cadarian Wiley’s 11 points in the opening period, the Sandies raced out to a 26-6 lead.

    Schulenburg opened the second with a 7-0 run to slice the lead in half but saw Grapeland open up a 21-point edge. The Shorthorns were able to cut the lead to 45-29 at halftime.

    Schulenburg came out energized in the third and scored three unanswered baskets to make it a 10-point game.

    Wiley finally broke the scoring ice with a free throw at the 5:45 mark but two quick buckets by Schulenburg trimmed the gap to seven, 46-39.

    Senior B. J. Lamb and sophomore Riley Murchison took matters into their own hands and fueled a 17-2 run that put Grapeland back in control 63-41.

    The Sandies’ 17-point frenzy included four consecutive treys – one by Lamb and three by Murchison.

    Two late Schulenburg tallies made it 63-45 heading into the final period.

    The Shorthorns got within 11 with 2:00 left but hopes of a miracle comeback faded with a steal and back-to-back buckets by Lamb.

    Schulenburg scored its final point at the line with :55 left and seemed content to let the Sandies run out the clock.

    Wiley and Murchison, who drained six treys, each finished with 23 points. Murchison also made his presence known on defense with seven steals. Wiley had six steals and eight rebounds.

    Lamb swooshed in three treys and rounded out double figures with 17. Omarian Wiley chipped in seven and Keizion Ashford had four.

    Schulenburg senior Brycen Wilson capped his career with a game-high 30 points and senior Kenny King followed with 13.

  • Grapeland finishes season as state runner-up

     MG 6402COURTESY OF MARSHA COOK Grapeland’s Caderian Wiley battles for a loose ball against Clarendon in the UIL Class 2A Boys Basketball State Championship game Saturday in San Antonio. The Sandies battled to the bitter end but came up short 64-60.

    By Larry Lamb

    Grapeland High School’s overflowing display case is even more crowded now with the addition of the 2021 UIL Class 2A Boys Basketball State Runner-up trophy the Sandies brought home Saturday from San Antonio.

    The Sandies lost a hard-fought battle with the Clarendon Broncos, 64-60, in the championship game at the Alamodome.

    Despite falling behind by eight late in the game, the Sandies refused to throw in the towel.

    Trailing 54-46, with 5:59 left in the game, the Sandies went on a 14-5 run to slip in front 60-59 with :35 left.

    Clarendon tied it on a free throw with :24 left and converted a steal into a layup with :11 left to go ahead 62-60.

    The Broncos scored their final bucket with :04 after a turnover by the Sandies.

    Grapeland trailed 18-12 after a quarter but Clarendon opened up an eight-point lead early in the second.

    A layup by B.J. Lamb with :21 left in the half closed the gap to 30-26 at the break.

    “We hadn’t shot the ball particularly well. We did some things that were uncharacteristic of us and we were still right in the game. We talked to the guys at halftime about staying the course, continuing to work hard and continuing to play hard all the way through,” said Grapeland head coach Blake Doughty during a Zoom post-game press conference.

    An energized Grapeland crew started the second half with a 6-1 run to slip in front 32-31 at the 6:32 mark in the third.

    After Clarendon went in front 39-34, the lead changed hands several times.

    Three straight buckets by Keizion Ashford, Lamb and Omarian Wiley gave the Sandies a 44-41 lead -- their biggest since early in the first half -- with :36 left in the third.

    With :01 left in the third, Clarendon’s Donovan Thompson heaved up a three-pointer -- the only one by either team -- to put the Broncos up 47-46 heading into the fourth.

    Senior State All-Tourney honorees Lamb and Ashford led the Sandies’ scoring with 19 apiece. Lamb was 7 of 8 at the line.

    Wiley rounded out double figures with 13. Omarian Wiley had five while Riley Murchison and Michael Dancer chipped in two apiece.

    Clarendon’s Donovan, who led all scorers with 21, was named Championship Game MVP.

    “Obviously we’re disappointed. Everybody that gets to this point and doesn’t reach the top of the mountain is disappointed. But I’m so proud of these guys and the humans that they are. I’m so proud of the people that they are going to become as they move on from Grapeland High School. That’s really the important part of this and it’s hard to keep that in perspective all the time when you’re talking about the state final game. These guys mean the world to me. They’re great, great kids,” said Doughty.

    This was Grapeland’s sixth appearance in the “Big Dance” since the 1985 Sandies captured the state crown. Grapeland made subsequent trips to state in 1999, 2001, 2014 and 2017 but was unable to crash through the semi-final barrier until this year.

    Clarendon’s state championship is the first in school history after five previous tournament appearances.

    Praising his team’s resiliency, Doughty added, “These guys never quit. They never gave in. They never turned on each other and that part’s great. We got to the point at the end of the game and both of our senior guards (Lamb and Ashford) had fouled out. That part can make it difficult to close out and finish games,” said Doughty, whose team ended the year with a 29-2 record.

    Asked what Clarendon did to make it difficult for the Sandies, Doughty responded, “I thought they matched our athleticism and that’s something we don’t see all the time. But more than that, we just didn’t have a good day shooting the ball. We didn’t shoot the ball from the three, we didn’t shoot the ball well from the free throw line.”

    The Sandies rained a barrage of 11 treys in their semifinal victory over Schulenburg but went 0-of-8 from beyond the arc against Clarendon. They left 15 points at the charity stripe, hitting just 14 of 29.

    Clarendon (25-4) made just one of eight from beyond the arc and nailed 13 of 24 free throws.

    Doughty continued, “They’re good defensively and they’re active, but I think that’s got more to do with us than it does them.”

    with us than it does them.”

    Ashford and junior Cadarian Wiley joined Doughty for post-game interviews.

    “It’s been a good season because of the great teammates I have. It’s been an amazing season. We just came up short,” said Ashford.

    An emotional Wiley said, “I’m going to take this loss and we’re going to be back next year.”

  • Grapeland reaches Elite 8

     MG 5027MARSHA COOK PHOTO Grapeland’s Cadarian Wiley shoots over Gary defender Landon Woodfin during a regional semifinals matchup Tuesday night in Lufkin.

    By Larry Lamb

    After toppling No. 1 Martin’s Mill, the Grapeland Sandies added another notch on their belt by taking down No. 9 Gary 48-46 in the regional semifinals Tuesday in Lufkin.

    Grapeland’s win sets up a showdown between the No. 3 Sandies (27-1) and No. 4 LaPoynor (26-5) in the regional final Friday night at Fairfield High School.

    LaPoynor, which edged Big Sandy 53-50 in the regional semifinals, handed the Sandies their only loss, 61-56, back on Dec.12.

    The winner of the Grapeland-LaPoynor matchup advances to the state semifinal round March 8-9 with a ticket to the Class 2A State Championship in San Antonio on Saturday, March 13 up for grabs.

    Grapeland led by six three times in the final five minutes but could not put Gary away.

    The Sandies had a six-point lead with 1:50 left after Cadarian Wiley hit his third straight bucket.

    Gary answered with a deep trey and then hit one of two free throws to make it 47-45 with 46.8 seconds left.

    Grapeland’s B.J. Lamb went to the line for a one-and-one situation with 10.9 seconds left. He sank the front end but the second would not fall, holding the Sandies’ lead at 48-45.

    Trailing by three, Gary inbounded the ball and a foul on Cadarian Wiley sent the Bobcats to the line for two shots with 1.8 seconds left.

    Needing a miracle, the Bobcats’ only hope was to make the first free throw, intentionally miss the second, get the rebound and score.

    Landon Woodfin’s first attempt was good to make it 48-46. His second shot hit the rim and the Sandies collected the rebound as the buzzer sounded, setting off Grapeland’s victory celebration.

    Playing their preferred brand of run-and-gun style of basketball, the Sandies raced out to a 6-0 lead.

    After Gary slowed the tempo, the Bobcats were able to match Grapeland’s six points the rest of the first quarter but still trailed 12-6.

    Gary was within a point with 4:45 left in the second when the Sandies pulled away 21-15 on three unanswered buckets.

    The Bobcats drained a trey in the closing seconds of the half, capping a 10-2 run that put them on top 25-23 at the break.

    Seizing momentum in the third quarter, the Sandies went on a 10-2 run to take a 33-27 lead at the 4:00 mark.

    Gary scored back-to-back buckets to make it a two-point game with :25 left. In the closing seconds Mike Dancer heaved an errant trey but a rebound and put-back by Keizion Ashford at the buzzer pushed the Sandies’ lead to 35-31.

    Lamb went to the bench with four fouls at the 1:08 mark in the third and returned early in the fourth after Gary nailed a pair of free throws to get within two.

    Held to their lowest offensive output this season, the Sandies were led by Cadarian Wiley’s 18 points. Wiley scored eight of Grapeland’s 11 points in the second quarter and made three consecutive baskets in the fourth.

    Lamb, who scored his team’s only three-pointer of the night, recorded a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds

    Keizion Ashford scored nine, Mike Dancer and Omarian Wiley chipped in two apiece, and Riley Murchison had one.

    Gary’s Ryan Ecker led a trio of double-digit scorers with 15. Landon Woodfin had 13 and Dakota Beckham finished with 11.

    Grapeland made 5 of 10 free throws and Gary hit 10 of 13.

    The Sandies came into the game riding momentum from an 81-75 upset of top-ranked Martin’s Mill Saturday afternoon in Frankston.

    The match-up featuring two of the state’s premier class 2A teams lived up to all the pre-game hype.

    Grapeland led by three after a quarter and outscored the Mustangs 26-18 in the second to open up an 11-point halftime lead.

    After Lamb hit two straight buckets to put the Sandies up 41-30, Mustang Carter Jones drilled a trey to make it an eight-point game with :10 left in the half.

    Lamb had an answer, however, when he heaved a 3-point buzzer-beater from half court to stretch the Sandies’ lead back to 44-33 at the break.

    Martin’s Mill came out sizzling in the third, hitting three treys in an 11-2 run to cut the lead to two, 46-44.

    A 9-2 run put Grapeland up 55-46 but the Mustangs tied it 61-61 on a deep trey in the waning seconds of the third.

    The game was tied at 67 early in the fourth when a put-back by Murchison ignited a 6-0 run that put the Sandies up 73-67.

    After their lead was cut to two, 77-75, the Sandies hit four clutch free throws down the stretch to seal the victory.

    Lamb, a Trinity Valley Community College football signee, led the Sandies with a triple-double of 22 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds.

    Wiley booked 22 points and nine rebounds while Ashford rounded out double figures with 16 and led with five steals.

     

  • Growing pains

    IMG 2622BRIAN BESCH | PCE Central Heights winning over the Lady Dogs of Corrigan-Camden on Friday 11 Decmber, 2020.

    By Brian Besch

    Central Heights started quickly and had Friday’s district matchup decided in a quarter, winning over the Lady Dogs of Corrigan-Camden 72-8.

    Holding the Lady Dogs without a field goal until the second quarter, Central Heights converted turnovers into layup, running up the first-half difference.

    “We have four freshmen, two sophomores, a junior and a senior. It is going to be rough at times this year,” Corrigan-Camden coach Ryan Hall said. “The ones that were the team leaders last year didn't come out and they left it on the young ones. This group works their tails off in practice and does everything I ask them to. They will get better; it is just going to take time. We are not in a developmental district, but we have a developmental team. We're going to have to develop and get better and it is just going to be trial by fire this year.

    “This is probably one of the toughest districts in the area and maybe the state. It is not because we have state-title contenders, but we have four or five teams in our district that, if the playoff bracket allowed them to, they could go to the regional tournament. They are very good and very high IQ basketball teams top to bottom.”

    The Lady Devils led 41-4 at halftime, as most who suited up scored at least two points. Nakalyn Wells and Kamryn Moore led the game by scoring 14 points each, while Hannah Shugart had 11. For Corrigan, Amiyah Jones had three points, Jonaisha Love and Paige Standley both had a bucket, and Kalyn Smith knocked down a free throw.

    The coach said Huntington, Central, Central Heights and Diboll would be favorites for the playoffs, along with Pineywoods Christian Academy.

    IMG 2617BRIAN BESCH | PCE players defending the net

    “That is the most athletic Central Heights team that we have played,” Hall said. “They always have good basketball IQ and good basketball teams, but now they are bringing athletes to it too. Huntington has dropped down (in classification) and they've got a D1 track recruit at point guard. She is all gas and no brakes, and she doesn't slow down even when she has the ball. She can go. I would say that they are probably the favorite to win district as long as she plays.”

    Hall said his squad's attitude is what he enjoys most.

    “Everything we asked them to do, they do. Everybody gets along, we have zero drama, and they play to the best of their ability. They are a fun group to be around. They are not the strongest basketball players right now, but if they keep that attitude and keep playing, they can learn basketball.”

  • Lady Cats off to fast start in December

    IMG 2195PHOTO BY BRIAN BESCH I PCE Jamya Garrett shoots a jumper in the first half Tuesday.

    By Brian Besch

    The Big Sandy Lady Cats came back from their turkey-day break by defeating intra-county foe Goodrich 71-15 Tuesday night in Dallardsville.

    The game was never in doubt, as the Lady Cats scored just a few seconds after the tip and held the lead throughout the competition. Big Sandy was led by sophomore Alexis Thompson, who scored 13 points in the first quarter, on her way to 28 for the game.

    Despite the large difference, Lady Cat head coach Ryan Alec sees room for improvement from his bunch.

    “We didn't shoot the ball very well tonight as much as I would like for us to,” he said. “Offensively, I thought we executed as best we could. We had good ball movement around the perimeter, but I thought we missed our post players on the inside a little bit. In the second half, we tried to fix that a little more and go inside. I thought we did a better job going to our bigs and trying to score down low. Early in the first half, I thought we were trying to settle for too many 3-pointers on the outside. We weren't making them, so we have to figure out something else to do.”

    The home team outscored the Lady Hornets 21-2 in the first quarter and led 37-4 at the half. Savannah Hoffman had 13 points for the Lady Cats and Faith Geller added a dozen. For Goodrich, Aralyn Angel led with seven points, Latrina Morgan had five and Jamya Garrett ended with three.

    The Big Sandy boss liked what he saw on the defensive end, holding the Lady Hornets to minimal success.

    “We played our zone defense and we tried to be aggressive out of it,” Alec said. “In the second half, we played a little bit of man. We are trying to figure out who we are and figure out our identity and what type of defense we are better at. I thought our first half defense was much better than our second half, but we still have a lot of work that we have to do in order for us to run both defenses to perfection. It's one of those things that we have to work on every day.”

    For Goodrich, the Lady Hornets are coming off a hard-fought win just before the Thanksgiving holidays.

    “I feel like the last game they played a lot better,” Goodrich coach Khadijah Carter said. “We played the Livingston game against the freshmen. We've just got to get more competitive.”

    In the game with Livingston, Goodrich played with only four on the court for the entire fourth quarter. Carter said the team was up 10 or 15 points to begin the period and Livingston closed the gap to four points before the Lady Hornets took the win.

    “(Versus Livingston,) we actually moved the ball around and we were getting open shots,” Carter said. “Most of our points came from in the paint. It was a lot of high-low and stuff like that. We had a girl foul out, so we just had to get in a box set. We managed with that for a little bit and our sophomore stepped up, bringing the ball down the court, because they doubled our point guard.”

    The coach believes that confidence is a factor with her team and she wants to build in that area during non-district before heading into league play, which begins next week.