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  • Centerville boys win 20-2A title, Groveton takes second

    IMG 2695Larry Lamb | HCC Lovelady’s Shaun Easterling took district titles in the 100 and 300 meter hurdles during the District 20-2A Track and Field Meet at Centerville recently.

    By Larry Lamb

    The Centerville Tigers hosted the District 20-2A track meet and claimed the varsity boys championship during competition that required an extra day to complete due to inclement weather.

    The Tigers racked up 181 points to claim the title by a comfortable margin over Groveton, which tallied 135.5 points. The Lovelady Lions were hot on the Indians’ heels with 134 points followed by Grapeland (66), Jewett Leon (46.5), Latexo (30) and Slocum (0.

    Field events, running prelims and 3200-meter races took place Monday, April 5 at Tiger Stadium. Athletes returned Thursday for the running finals at 6 p.m. but just over an hour into the session threatening weather prompted meet officials to call a 30-minute lightning delay. Subsequent threatening weather in the area forced the delay to be extended and eventually the remaining six events were postponed until Friday morning.

    The top four finishers in each event advanced to the area meet Thursday in Madisonville. The top four performers at area qualify for the Class 2A Region III meet April 23-24 at Palestine High School.

    Results of the district meet are as follows:

    District 20-2A Track Meet

    Monday, April 5 - Thursday, April 8 - Friday, April 9

    Varsity Boys

    Team Standings- 1, Centerville 181. 2, Groveton, 135.5. 3, Lovelady, 134. 4, Grapeland 66. 5, Jewett Leon 46.5. 6, Latexo 30. 7. Slocum 0.

    Running Events

    100 dash – B. J. Lamb, Grapeland, 10.94. 2, Kaden Dunn, Centerville, 11.10. 3, T. Cornett, Leon, 11.32. 4, Ashton Hargrove, Latexo, 11.47. 5, Phoenix Bowman, Groveton, 11.57. 6, D. Watson, Leon, 11.57.

    200 dash – 1, T. Cornett, Leon, 22.30. 2, Cadarian Wiley, Grapeland, 22.82. 3, Ashton Hargrove, Latexo, 22.83. 4, Andrew Newman, Centerville, 23.12. 5, D. Watson, Leon, 23.41. 6, Angel Villareal, Centerville, 23.50.

    400 dash - 1, Donivan Moehr, Centerville, 50.97. 2, Dillon Denman, Centerville, 54.68. 3, Haden Lee, Groveton, 54.78. 4, Jackson Jefferies, Lovelady, 54.90. 5, James Williams, Groveton, 56.68.6, Halston French, Centerville, 56.75.

    800 run – 1, Kasen Jeitz, Centerville, 1:59.18. 2, Joel Pomeroy, Lovelady, 2:11.61. 3, Haden Lee, Groveton, 2:13.62.4, Luke Carter, Centerville, 2:17.11. 5, Blake Patrick, Lovelady, 2:18.00. 6, Cyris Gray, Centerville, 2:18.02.

    1600 run – Logan Ray, Latexo, 5:16.11. 2, Jarrett Loftin, Groveton, 5:21.59. 3, Luke Carter, Centerville, 5:22.02. 4, Enrique Cruz, Centerville, 5:23.21. 5, Cyrus Gray, Centerville, 5:23.34. 6, Caden Alexander, Groveton, 5:26.56.

    3200 run – 1. Logan Ray, Latexo, 11:44. 2, Jarrett Loftin, Groveton, 11:52. 3, Cyris Gray, Centerville, 11:53. 4, Luke Carter, Centerville, 11:54. 5, Caden Alexander, Groveton, 12:07. 6, Enrique Cruz, Centerville, 12:12

    110 hurdles – 1, Shaun Easterling, Lovelady, 15.34. 2, Brett Wagnon, Centerville, 16.84. 3, Bradi Minter, Centerville, 18.15. 4, King Jones, Groveton, 18.56. 5, Ian Utz, Groveton, 19.18. 6, Tyler Stanford, Centerville, 19.46.

    300 hurdles – 1, Shaun Easterling, Lovelady, 42.28. 2, Brett Wagnon, Centerville, 42.37. 3, Karter Kornegay, Centerville, 43.75. 4, King Jones, Groveton, 45.37. 5, Tuff Reynolds, Groveton, 46.34. 6, Brandon Fry, Lovelady, 52.05.

    4x100 relay – Grapeland (Riley Murchison, Cadarian Wiley, Lekarian Smith, B.J. Lamb), 44.60. 2, Centerville (French, Newman, Kornegay, Moehr), 44.61. 3, Groveton (Phoenix Bowman, Byron Thomas, David Ayala, Malachi Stewart), 45.31. 4, Lovelady (Conner Martinez, Cole Harris, Slade Murray, Keivon Skinner), 45.85.

    4x200 relay – Leon (Leggett, Noey, Watson, Cornett), 1:34.99. 2, Groveton (Navid Pat, Bryon Thomas, David Ayala, Malachi Stewart), 1:36.88. 3, Centerville (Roberts, Newman, Villareal, White), 1:36.88. 4, Lovelady (Conner Martinez, Cole Harris, Slade Murray, Keivon Skinner), 1:37.12.

    4x400 relay – 1, Centerville (Jeitz, Denman, White, Moehr), 3:32.62. 2, Lovelady (Joel Pomeroy, Keivon Skinner, Shaun Easterling, Cole Harris), 3:36.84. 3, Groveton (David Ayala, Navid Pat, Chase Blair, Haden Lee), 3:47.52.

    Field Events

    Long Jump- 1, B.J. Lamb, Grapeland, 20-10 ¾. 2, Keivon Skinner, Lovelady, 19-6 ½. 3, T, Cornett, Leon, 19-5. 4, Halston French, Centerville, 18-5 ¼. 5, Andrew Newman, Centerville, 18-4 ¾. 6, James Williams, Groveton, 17-9 ¾.

    Shot put – 1, Tyler Allen, Groveton, 40-2. 2, Jabez Fills, Centerville, 38-2. 3, Levodrick Phillips, Centerville, 36-6. 4, Jason DeCluette, Grapeland, 35-10 ½. 5, B.J. Kelly, Centerville, 35-4. 6, Dayvian Skinner, Lovelady, 35-2 ½.

    Discus – 1, Eric Castillo, Lovelady, 112-4. 2, Shaun Easterling, Lovelady, 110-10 ½. 3, Tyler Allen, Groveton, 99-10 ½. 4, Jason DeCluette, Grapeland, 99-0. 5, Dayvian Skinner, Lovelady, 91-2 ½. 6, Holley Zantayl, Centerville, 90-2.

    Triple jump – 1, Riley Murchison, Grapeland, 39-0. 2, Slade Murray, Lovelady, 38-7. 3, Chase Blair, Groveton, 37-2 ½. 4, Navid Pat, Groveton, 37-1. 5, James Williams, Groveton, 36-11 ½. 6, T. Kirschner, Leon, 36-8.

    High jump – 1, Shaun Easterling, Lovelady, 5-10. 2, Keivon Skinner, Lovelady, 5’10. 3, Dillon Denman, Centerville, 5-8. 4, Malachi Stewart, Groveton, 5-8. 5, Chase Vycital, Groveton, 5-6.

    Pole vault – 1, Cole Harris. Lovelady, 11-6. 2, Dalton Chandler, Groveton, 10-0. 3, Haden Lee, Groveton, 9-0. 4, James Webb, Centerville, 8-6. 5, Jackson Jefferies, Lovelady, 8-6. 6, Brett Wagnon, Centerville, 8-6.

  • Grapeland boys win playoff opener

    IMG 0874LARRY LAMB | HCC Besides putting on a three-point clinic, senior B. J. Lamb dazzled fans when he slammed the ball home during the Sandies’ 87-68 bi-district win over Frankston.

    By Larry Lamb

    “Lose-the-flip-win-the game.”

    That hashtag posted on social media became the battle cry for the Grapeland Sandies going into their bi-district game against Frankston on Saturday, Feb. 20.

    After plans to play the game at Rusk fell through due to weather-related issues, the two schools agreed on flipping for home-and-home.

    Frankston won the coin toss but home court advantage was not enough for the Indians to overcome the No. 3 ranked Sandies, who prevailed 87-68.

    The Sandies jumped out to an 11-2 lead but after Frankston cut the lead to two, the Sandies closed out the quarter with a 13-6 run.

    Led by senior B.J. Lamb’s five-of-five trey barrage, the Sandies pulled away to lead 29-20 at the end of the first.

    The Trinity Valley Community College football recruit dazzled fans when he stole the ball and raced down the floor for a slam dunk.

    Then Lamb drilled a three-pointer at the buzzer to boost his first quarter total to 17 points and give the Sandies a nine-point lead.

    Although his family’s home was destroyed by fire earlier in the week, Lamb was able to overcome adversity and focus on the game.

    Lamb, who finished the night with seven treys, booked a game-high 33 points and 11 assists to attain double-double status.

    Frankston stayed close early in the second period but saw the Sandies rattle off a 21-5 run in the final five minutes of the half to pull away 54-32.

    After Grapeland took its biggest lead of 30 points early in the third, Frankston answered with a 13-2 flurry to get within 19.

    The Sandies answered with a big run, however, to push their lead out to 73-49 heading into the final period.

    The Indians stayed alive with another 13-2 run that whittled the gap down to 75-62 with 3:40 left.

    But Frankston’s hopes of a miracle finish evaporated with a 12-6 run by the Sandies down the stretch.

    Two other Sandies joined Lamb with double-doubles.

    Cadarian Wiley was right behind him with 32 points and 12 rebounds.

    Wiley scored six in the first quarter, 10 in the second and eight in each of the last two frames.

    Keizion Ashford buried three treys and tallied 12 points along with 10 assists.

    Riley Murchison contributed six points on a pair of treys, Omarian Wiley chipped in four and Michael Dancer had two.

    In an earlier bi-district game in the Frankston gym, top-ranked Martin’s Mill defeated Lovelady 90-41.

    Fans were already speculating about a possible third round clash pitting the Sandies and Martin’s Mill.

    Grapeland defeated Mart 74-44 in the area round and Martin’s Mill edged Rosebud-Lott 59-42 to set up a showdown in the regional quarterfinals Saturday, Feb. 27 in Frankston.

  • 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.

     

  • Lovelady baseballers keep rolling

    IMG 2520LARRY LAMB | HCC Grapeland’s Cooper Sheridan awaits a throw as Lovelady’s Brenton Crawford slides toward second for a successful steal in Friday’s district matchup.

    By Larry Lamb

    The Lovelady Lions rolled to 5-1 in District 21-2A baseball with back-to-back road wins over Latexo, 25-4, on Monday night and Grapeland, 15-0, on Friday morning.

    The Lions jumped on top of Latexo 8-0, but the Tigers made it interesting when they plated four runs in the bottom of the fourth to get back in the game and cut the lead to 8-4.

    A 17-run explosion by Lovelady in the top of the fifth inning put the game out of reach and the Tigers were unable to score in the bottom half to avoid the run-rule.

    Latexo took advantage of four Lovelady errors to push across four runs in the fourth. The first two batters reached on an error and scored on a double by Cameron Baker, who was later thrown out advancing to home. Malachi Reece singled, Kade Hauck reached on an error and Tyler Lumbreraz singled in a run to make it 8-3. Hauck advanced to third and scored on an error to cut Lovelady’s lead to 8-4 with one out.

    Lions starting moundsman E.J. Sandoval struck out the next batter and a pop-out ended the inning with Lumbreraz on third.

    Sandoval worked four innings, giving up four runs on four hits with six strikeouts and no walks.

    Lovelady reliever Matthew Wheeler sealed the win in the fifth, allowing one hit and no runs with one strikeout and no walks.

    Latexo’s Logan Ray pitched four innings, giving up eight hits, 11 runs (five earned) with two strikeouts and seven walks. Reece worked one inning and gave up five runs on four hits with five walks. Two other Tigers saw action on the hill and combined for nine runs and three hits.

    The Lions collected a total of 15 hits and walked 14 times while only striking out twice.

    Slade Murray had the big bat for the Lions with four hits and Brenton Crawford was right behind with three hits and four RBI. Jackson Reeves and Matthew Wheeler had two hits apiece.

    Against Grapeland, the Lions grabbed a 6-0 lead in the second and continued to pull away with two in the third, four in the fourth and three in the fifth to notch a run-rule victory.

    Lion batsmen collected 12 hits off three pitchers.

    Brenton Crawford went 3-for-3 with a pair of doubles and scored four runs.

    Slade Murray had three hits and four RBI, while Sandoval and Wheeler each hit a double and finished the day 2-for-3. Wheeler scored three runs. Jackson Reeves had a double and Larkin had a base hit.

    Winning pitcher Carter Murray gave up two hits, struck out eight and walked one in the five-inning shutout.

    Cooper Sheridan and Jacob Vaden collected Grapeland’s only hits off Murray.

    Cameron Navarette started on the mound for the Sandies and worked two innings. Peyton Prater pitched 1 1/3 innings and Jayce Elliott worked the final 1 2/3 innings.

  • Sandies advance to state semifinal

     MG 5462COURTESY PHOTO | MARSHA COOK Grapeland’s Cadarian Wiley brings fans to their feet with a slam-dunk in the regional championship game against LaPoynor Saturday.

    By Larry Lamb

    Revenge is always satisfying but a win that moves you a step closer to a state basketball championship is even sweeter.

    The No. 3 Grapeland Sandies (28-1) took down No. 4 LaPoynor 75-57 in the regional final Friday at Fairfield.

    LaPoynor put the only blemish on the Sandies’ resume back on Dec. 12 when the Flyers notched a 61-56 non-district road win.

    Grapeland advances to the state semifinals against Schulenburg Tuesday at Aldine ISD’s Campbell Center. Schulenburg, ranked No. 20 in the final TABC poll, knocked off No. 7 Port Aransas 57-50 in the regional final.

    The winner of the Grapeland-Schulenburg game advances to the championship game at the Alamodome in San Antonio Saturday at 10 a.m.

    No. 2 Clarendon and No. 8 Lipan will face off for the other state tournament berth.

    LaPoynor led 12-10 after a quarter but didn’t have an answer for a barrage of seven 3-pointers by Grapeland that fueled a 32-11 run in the second quarter.

    By halftime the Sandies were firmly in control 42-23 behind B.J. Lamb’s four treys and a pair of deuces in the second quarter. Riley Murchison drained a pair of treys and Johnny Lamb swooshed in another from 3-point range at the buzzer for a 19-point advantage.

    Grapeland’s second quarter flurry also included five points by Keizion Ashford and a basket by Omarian Wiley.

    The Flyers came out energized in the third quarter and reeled off an 11-2 run to whittle the lead down to 44-34.

    Momentum shifted back to the Sandies when Ashford buried a trey and an electrifying two-handed dunk by Cadarian Wiley pushed their lead to 49-34 with 3:00 left in the third.

    After Murchison scored on a put-back and Ashford converted a steal to go up by 18, LaPoynor drilled a trey with 40 seconds left in the quarter.

    B.J. Lamb took the ball the length of the court in the waning seconds and laid it in at the buzzer for a 57-40 lead.

    LaPoynor refused to go away quietly and opened the fourth quarter with a 12-4 run to get within nine.

    After Cadarian Wiley slammed home his second dunk of the night and Mike Dancer scored a bucket, the Flyers rattled off nine unanswered points to make it 61-52 with 5:20 left.

    Grapeland put the game away with a 14-0 run that included three baskets by Cadarian Wiley and one by Omarian Wiley, along with perfect 4-of-4 free throw shooting by B.J. Lamb and two by Murchison.

    B.J. Lamb paced the Sandies with 24 points followed by Cadarian Wiley with 16, Murchison with 12 and Ashford with 10. Omarian Wiley had six points, Dancer four and Johnny Lamb three.

    Ashford led the Sandies with seven steals and five assists.

    Garrett Nuckolls, who was scoreless in the first half, led LaPoynor with 14 and Cooper Gracey had 12.

    LaPoynor was declared a Class 1A State Co-Champion last year after winning its state semifinal game before the UIL suspended the tournament due to COVID-19 concerns. LaPoynor was elevated to class 2A when the UIL announced its 2020-2022 realignment and reclassification.