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  • 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.

  • Corrigan-Camden volleyball ends 2020 season as area finalists (VIDEO & GALLERY)

    corrigan camdenBRIAN BESCH | PCE Lady Dogs end season as area finalists

     
    By Brian Besch

    TOMBALL- Corrigan-Camden saw its season come to an end in the area round of the playoffs Monday, dropping a 25-17, 25-20, 25-10 match to East Bernard at Tomball High School.

    The Lady Dogs started the first set in a 4-0 hole, but closed to within one point on a handful of occasions. Up 11-10 on Corrigan-Camden, the Brahmarettes scored eight of the next nine, leading to a 1-0 advantage.

    In the second set, the Lady Dogs held a lead as large as four points before losing by five.

    “We came out and played,” Corrigan-Camden coach Sage Gardner said. “We saw East Bernard two years ago, so I was worried about us being a little tentative, but they came out and played their butts off. My group has all of the heart and hustle, and that’s why we’ve gotten this far.”

    The Lady Bulldogs have had some rough draws in the past few years, with East Bernard also the opponent two years ago, Hardin last year, and the Brahmarettes in 2020. Both schools are volleyball powers in the state.

    This particular group of seniors has been with Gardner since the seventh grade, the first to do so since that level.

    The seniors include Kallie Kelm, Essense Sanders, Micah Hughes, Aundrea Cuevas and Jennifer Vazquez.

    “I’m losing five good ones. Each one of these kids are special to me,” Gardner said. “We have been through it all together. They put their hearts into it with blood and injuries and I couldn’t ask for a better group of kids. The group I have coming back next year, they’ll put in the work and they’ll be there too.”

    Corrigan-Camden VolleyballShow Gallery 

  • 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 boys finish as district track runner-up

    IMG 2282LARRY LAMB | HCC Crockett sophomore Blake Jones heaves the discus 126 feet, 6 inches to win a gold medal in the District 20-3A track and field meet.

    By Larry Lamb

    District newcomers Franklin and Fairfield took home team titles at the District 20-3A Track and Field Meet on Wednesday, March 31 and Thursday, April 1 at Crockett ISD’s Driskell Stadium.

    Franklin racked up 202 points to capture the varsity boys crown over runner-up Crockett (114). Teague (71), Elkhart (67), Palestine Westwood (45), Fairfield (43), Groesbeck (41) and Buffalo (30) rounded out the team standings.

    Fairfield, which dropped from class 4A this year, dominated the varsity girls division with 218 points and Franklin was a distant second with 111 points. Palestine Westwood (92) was third, followed by Elkhart (71), Teague (64), Groesbeck (38), Crockett (15) and Buffalo (11).

    The top four finishers in each event return to Crockett next week to compete in the area meet. The top four finishers then move on to regional competition April 23-24 at Waco Midway High School.

    In running events, Crockett boys advanced in two relay races and four individual races. The Bulldogs had five area qualifiers in three field events.

    Randy Jones took gold in the 100-meter dash (11.55) and Keyshun Easterling was third in the 200 (23.28).

    Omar Garcia earned silvers in both the 1600 (5:01.27) and 3200 (11.26) behind Franklin’s Nate Philipello.

    Crockett boys finished second behind Franklin in two relay races

    The Bulldogs 400 relay team of Dennis Simmons, Xzavian Walker, Keyshun Easterling and Randy Jones posted a time of 44.02 and the 800 foursome of Easterling, Jadyn Collins, Walker and Jones clocked in at 1:31.18

    In field events, Crockett was led by a one-two showing in discus throw. Sophomore Blake Jones won the district title with a heave of 126’6” and teammate Melvin Evans took second with 116’9”.

    High jumpers Delvin Walker (6’2”) and Markell Paxton (6’0”) placed second and third, respectively.

    Freshman pole vaulter Joseph Tuggle was second with a height of 10’0”.

    Two Bulldogs ranked among the district’s top 10 athletes. Randy Jones was No. 8 with 18 points and Garcia tied for No. 9 with 16.

    In the varsity girls division, Lady Bulldog La’Kyra Hamilton qualified for area in two events. She was third in the 100 dash (13.34) and third in the 200 (26.71).

  • 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.

  • Crockett secures third place in 9-3A (VIDEO)

    Kickoff ReturnPHOTO COURTESY OF LARRY LAMB Trinity’s Marquavian Jaramillo returns the opening kickoff against Crockett Friday night.

    By Larry Lamb

    The Crockett Bulldogs can breathe a little easier heading into the first round of the state football playoffs.

    Coach Jimmy Thompson’s crew took care of business in their District 9-3A DI finale by dominating the visiting Trinity Tigers 39-0 Friday night to secure the third place seed.

    Crockett plays District 10-3A runner-up Anahuac in bi-district while fourth-place Trinity faces No. 8 ranked East Chambers, the District 10-3A champion.

    The Crockett-Anahuac matchup will be played Friday, Nov. 13 at 7 p.m. in Woodville’s Eagle Stadium.

    In other key district matchups Friday, Coldspring defeated Diboll 20-12 to capture the District 9-3A title and will play Woodville Thursday night in Crockett’s Driskell Stadium at 7 p.m. Woodville defeated Anahuac 27-22 but Anahuac took second based on a tiebreaker.

    Crockett’s first touchdown against Trinity was courtesy of the defense.

    A pick-six by sophomore Zandric Anderson on Trinity’s fourth play got the ball rolling and kicker Antonio Cruz put the Bulldogs up 7-0 with 10:51 in the first quarter.

    Anderson foiled Trinity’s second possession when he recovered a fumble at the Tiger 35. The Bulldogs scored three plays later on a 36-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Jadyn Collins to senior Ty White. Cruz, who was perfect on extra points, made it 14-0 at the 8:58 mark.

    After an interception by Keshun Easterling near midfield, the Bulldogs drove to the Tiger 12 before coughing up the ball.

    Pick SixPHOTO BY LARRY LAMB Crockett’s Zandric Anderson returns an interception for a touchdown against Trinity in a showdown for third place in District 9-3A DI Friday night.

    Unable to move the ball, Trinity was forced to punt and a high snap sailed out of the end zone for a safety to give Crockett a 16-0 lead with 4:16 left in the first quarter.

    Another interception by Easterling set up Crockett’s next touchdown. The junior snared the pass and returned it to the Tiger 48, but a penalty moved the Bulldogs back to their 35 yard line. Collins hit White for a 15-yard gain and found Randy Jones on a pinpoint 44-yard touchdown pass two plays later. The PAT put Crockett up 23-0 at the 11:00 mark in the second quarter.

    Crockett only had to travel 22 yards for its next touchdown after forcing Trinity to punt from the 10 yard line. Dennis Simmons picked up 18 yards to set up a four-yard blast by Easterling for a 30-0 lead at the 8:51 mark.

    Late in the first half Trinity reached the Bulldog 27 yard line on the running of junior fullback Andrew Crabtree before turning the ball over on downs.

    Crockett marched down the field but was unable to punch the ball in before fumbling at the Tiger 5 with :42 left in the half.

    After Jones returned the second half kickoff to the Crockett 17, the quick-striking Bulldogs extended their lead when Easterling took it to the house on an 83-yard run on first down just 21 seconds into the third quarter.

    Another high snap on a Trinity punt resulted in a safety that put Crockett up 39-0 with 7:46 to go in the third quarter.

    Crockett attempted an unsuccessful field goal from the 29 yard line on its next series.

    Trinity mounted a deep threat in the fourth quarter behind the running of Crabtree but ran out of steam at the 9 yard line.

    Crockett will also host a Class 4A bi-district game between Jasper and China Spring on Friday at 7:30 p.m.

     

  • Defending state champions swatting big flys

    IMG 6363BRIAN BESCH | PCE Lady Lion senior Elaina Evans stretches for the throw from third base in her final home game.

    By Brian Besch

    The Livingston Lady Lions dropped their final home game of the 2021 season Tuesday, as the Hargrave Lady Falcons took a 6-1 decision.

    Showing some power at the plate, the Lady Falcons utilized a couple of home runs in the fourth inning that would decide the outcome. Hagan Pike smacked a solo shot, and after a runner reached base, Maddi Smith notched two more on the board with a connection that cleared the wall in left field.

    Added to a run scored in the first, that put the girls from Huffman up 4-0. Livingston pushed a run across in the sixth inning, started by a Kaylie Bush single and sacrifice off the bat of freshman Jaycee Knighton to push her to second. Carrie Parker slapped a single into the grass and slid into second when the throw home could not catch Bush.

    IMG 6425BRIAN BESCH | PCE Carrie Parker slides into second base after driving in a run.

    Pike would strike again in the seventh with the bases loaded and no one out. Her single allowed two more to score.

    “It has been a struggle and we will make a mistake and then make another mistake,” Livingston coach Ruth Wright said. “Knowing what we are supposed to do when we get the ball, we've done a lot better, I thought. They don't have the experience and I have been playing with different positions, so they have had to get comfortable at two different positions. I basically go with if you are getting the job done at the plate, I am going to put you somewhere defensively.” 

    Three of those that Wright said has performed at the plate this season are freshmen. They have also functioned in key roles when the Lady Lions take the field. Allison Lytle and Knighton both contribute by pitching and Baylee Yantes has been on the receiving end behind the plate. On Tuesday, Lytle started, throwing four frames and Knighton finished off the final three.

    District 21-4A has produced the last two state champions in Liberty and Hargrave, and the competition is proving strong once more this year.

    “The bottom line is this district is amazing,” Wright said. “The pitching is great and if you miss your spot, it can be deadly. The combination of pitchers (Lytle and Knighton), they got a lot of reps this year and that confidence is going to help. On varsity playing as a freshmen, I have three of them and they stepped up and did a great job. They are only going to get better.”

    On the other end, the Lady Lions will lose a lone senior, first baseman Elaina Evans.

    “Ever since freshman year, this group of girls has been great,” Evans said of her time wearing the green. “I'm going to miss the girls the most. We have grown together, played together, improved together and made great memories. We have had great coaches that have not only taught us to play the game, but to love the game. I'm just going to miss the people I've built a family here with the most.”

    IMG 6354BRIAN BESCH | PCE Kaylie Bush would single and score the only Livingston run Tuesday.

    With most everyone returning next year, the coach is optimistic on the future of Livingston softball.

    “We’ll continue to grow. With Elena being gone, we're going to miss her, but the depth here is good,” Wright said. “These girls are going to work outside of school and there are several that are playing select ball. This year has been (about) building, obviously, and we are getting a little more consistent.”

  • 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.

  • Dixon takes reins as Crockett AD/football coach

    IMG 1493LARRY LAMB | HCC Lufkin native and former Texas A&M football player Alton Dixon is the new athletic director and head football coach at Crockett High School.

    By Larry Lamb

    Crockett ISD has selected Alton Dixon as its new athletic director and head football coach.

    Dixon, one of more than 130 applicants, was officially approved by the school board Monday night.

    The new AD was introduced to athletes Tuesday and is expected to start full time the last week of March.

    Dixon, a Lufkin native who played college football at Texas A&M, comes to Crockett from class 5A Wylie East High School where he was defensive coordinator/assistant head coach the past three years.

    “They hadn’t won in years and when we got there we flipped it over. That was the first time they’d been in the playoffs in about 15 years,” Dixon said of Wylie East’s program.

    Dixon was a defensive player at Lufkin High School under legendary coach John Outlaw and defensive coordinator Todd Quick.

    He was awarded a scholarship to Texas A&M University where he was a four-year starter. He first played cornerback for the Aggies, then safety and linebacker. One of Dixon’s teammates was former CHS sports star L’Tydrick Riley.

    After graduating from A&M, Dixon said he had some opportunities in the NFL that didn’t pan out so he started working in the Aggies weight room for strength and conditioning coach Dave Kennedy.

    “That’s kind of what got my coaching itch-bug started,” said Dixon, who then returned to his high school alma mater as assistant football coach for Quick, who had moved up to head coach after Outlaw’s death.

    He remained at Lufkin for about five years before accepting a defensive coordinator position with 5A Dallas Molina.

    Dixon credits his high school coaches – Outlaw and Quick – for influencing his career choice. “ I don’t have any family ties to coaching. I think I got that coaching in me from those guys. They are my coaching family,” he said.

    Describing his coaching philosophy, Dixon said, “It’s discipline, commitment, loving each other, playing hard-nosed football most importantly, but we’re going to be very, very much a class-act. We’re going to have great character when we play the game.”

    Dixon said his decision regarding a run or pass oriented offense for the Bulldogs will be based on “what we have in the cupboards” personnel-wise.

    “I do know we have a great athlete at quarterback and I do know we have great speed so that all aligns to being able to spread it out a little. I’m not a guy who’s going to walk in and say you’ve got to do this, this and this. I’m a guy who says let’s evaluate what we have and let’s go for it like that,” he said.

    Starting his career at Lufkin under coach Quick, Dixon said he learned the “fundamental ways” of defense.

    “We started with the basics of a 4-3 defense. But here in Crockett we have such great speed I believe we’re going to be able to continue what coach (Gary) Grubbs has done with the 3-4 defense. I really love the speed that we have and I love his premise and philosophy. I think we’re going to blend very well. He’s done a really good job of having a solid foundation of defense so we’re going to carry on, but very similar to what we’re going to do on offense.”

    Once Dixon gets settled in, he plans for the Bulldogs to participate in 7-on-7 and have them competing in a higher bracket this year. “We want to play a more competitive bracket with 5A-6A early on and then get into an SQT in the 3A-4A bracket,” he noted. “We know what kind of children we have. We have the kind that other people would pray to have.”

    A summer strength and conditioning program is also planned and some of the junior athletes will attend football recruiting camps to prepare for their senior seasons. “From there we’ll move into fall camp pace,” he said.

    Dixon has always been impressed with Crockett’s rich athletic tradition.

    “It’s always been tradition-rich. I know the kind of athletes that come out of here. I know the story of the Crockett Rocket (Claude Riley) and I know L’Tydrick Riley. I know all those Rileys. It’s East Texas. Smells like home, feels like home. Ain’t nothing like being in God’s country. We build a certain brand of boy and girl out here, a certain brand of woman and man. I think these children are a special cut from Texas, I really do.”

    Regarding the high amount of interest the position generated, Crockett ISD Supt. John Emerich said applications continued to trickle in after the cutoff two weeks ago.

    “I think that’s a testament to what people think Crockett is and can be,” Emerich said of the 300-plus applicants. “I had lots of folks to choose from and it was a pretty difficult process. I went through every single application and read those.”

    Emerich said he received a number of calls recommending various coaches for the position.

    “But this man (Dixon) was actually not one of those that was recommended to me. There was something about his application that stuck out to me,” said Emerich.

    “I narrowed it down to 18 and interviewed them. Then I narrowed it down to five finalists that I brought in and talked to them more extensively. This guy (Dixon) just kept rising to the top after that whole process. I think this is the right fit for me, which means it’s the right fit for Crockett, for our kids and our community. I really think he’s going to be a good partner of mine in helping to fulfill the mission that I’d like to see happen here in Crockett. I think we share the same vision on that kind of thing,” he continued.

    Emerich said in closing, “I’m excited. I’m excited for our kids here, Crockett ISD and for the community. This man is just what we needed here. I think he’s going to be the key to helping us get to the next level. You know what we have here naturally and if we tweak a few things I think we can really see some different results. This is the man to help us do that. That’s why I brought him forward to the board. It seemed like the board thought that way too last night after they met him. We’re excited to see what he’s going to do here.”

    Dixon summed up, “I am very grateful to Mr. Emerich. It wasn’t easy. He made me sweat a little bit during the process and pressed me really hard. I think he saw my heart and saw my passion, and I think that’s how we got here today.

    “I’m looking forward to meeting members of the community. They are going to get my best at all times and I have nothing but their child’s success on my mind. I look forward to being out in the community and building up great relationships and building and enhancing our great traditions that we have here. Go Bulldogs. Go Big Blue.”

  • Eight-inning roller coaster  (VIDEO)

    IMG 7556BRIAN BESCH | PCE Landon Leggett singles in the sixth inning.

    By Brian Besch

    Livingston Lion baseball lost 6-5 in extra innings and heartbreaking fashion Wednesday to Bellville. They will need wins Friday and Saturday to continue the season. 

    Every out was important Wednesday and the last out of each inning seemed the most difficult to secure. 

    Down 4-2 and down to their final strike, Cooper Brown reached base with an infield single. Jacob Haynes drove him in with an RBI-triple. In just his second at-bat back from injury, Landon Leggett delivered his second hit of the game, tying it at four each. All was accomplished with two outs. 

    "Every out and every pitch matters," Livingston coach Wade Halfmann said. "We had two strikes. Every pitch matters. We saw adversity for the first time in the playoffs. We saw adversity, and we overcame it. Down 4-2 with two outs, we overcome adversity. There is unbelievable fight in these kids. Did we make mistakes? Yes, we did. I didn't say a word about it -- they know. These guys are ball players." 

    In bonus baseball, Tay McNeal led off with a base hit to center field. Ruiz then singled, getting McNeal to third. Tyler Seek fouled off five pitches before getting the fly ball into the outfield needed to get the go-ahead run home. 

    Brown, who threw two-plus innings of relief, got two quick outs in the bottom of the eighth. Then, a batter was walked, followed by a single. Brown finally got the ground ball he needed, but the throw from third base sailed beyond first, allowing both runners to score and the Brahmas to take Game 1. 

    Ruiz, Leggett and Haynes each had two hits for the Lions, while those three plus Walker Findley and Gage Morris had a run batted in. 

    Halfmann is known as a motivator, but gave a different answer when asked how he would get his team energized after a deflating loss. 

    "I don't. It's their turn. This is a series now. Some of these kids have been in the playoffs, one and done. They left in their sophomore year saying that it was alright and that they will have next year. Now, there isn't a next year. If they want to keep playing, they will find it within them to look in the mirror and say that they are somebody. I believe they are."

  • 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.”

  • Former NFL player, Crockett native drowns at Rayburn

    Pete Lammons trading card as a New York JetCOURTESY PHOTO Pete Lammons trading card as a New York Jet

    By Chris Edwards

    A man who drowned in Lake Sam Rayburn on Thursday was identified on Friday by authorities as that of Peter Spencer “Pete” Lammons, Jr., a 77-year-old Houston man who was once an NFL athlete.

    Lammons, who was reportedly an avid outdoorsman, was fishing in the Major League Fishing’s Toyota Tournament when the incident occurred on Thursday. According to Texas Parks & Wildlife, the drowning occurred near San Augustine Park, which is located on the east side of the lake, seven miles southwest of Pineland. The drowning in the second that has occurred in the region during this week. On Sunday, 18-year-old Richard Tyler Johnston, of Hemphill, drowned in Dam B.

    Texas Parks & Wildlife game wardens recovered his body by using sonar, but efforts to revive him were unsuccessful, according to a press release from Major League Fishing. The accident occurred when Lammons fell overboard at the dock while preparing to fish in the tournament, according to MLF.

    Lammons was a native of Crockett and played football for Jacksonville High School in the late 1950s and early ‘60s before he matriculated to the University of Texas in Austin and played as a Longhorn. He was drafted as an eighth-round pick by the New York Jets in the 1966 AFL draft, according to ESPN, where he played as a tight-end through 1971. He finished his career as one of the Green Bay Packers in 1972.

    Pete Lammons as UT Longhorn courtesy of UTPete Lammons as UT Longhorn courtesy of UT

    Lammons was a starting defensive player on the Jets’ Super Bowl III championship team, and he was also a part of the UT 1963 national championship team under legendary coach Darrell Royal.

    Lammons also played for another legendary coach, Bum Phillips, as a high school freshman. Phillips was then head coach at Jacksonville High School. Years later, the two men met again on the sidelines of the 1967 AFL All-Star Game.

    According to Lammons’s nephew Lance, his uncle had been fatigued from two recent stent surgeries and tripped as he was about to board the boat, fell into the lake and could not be saved.

    After his football career, Lammons was involved in real estate and horse racing. He was also a professional angler, and had competed in more than 50 of the MLF tournaments.

    On a story about Lammons’s death on the New York Jets’ official website, his nephew is quoted as saying that “Pete wanted Jacksonville to have his Super Bowl ring and his National Championship ring from the University of Texas.”

    Lammons also has a scholarship named in his honor for Jacksonville HS graduates.

  • Former SHSU player relishes alma mater’s national title

    IMG 0881EMILY BANKS WOOTEN | PCE Nancy and Joe Hollis, proud alumni of Sam Houston State University, show off an SH metal sign, a gift from a granddaughter, that hangs on one of the covered porches of their log home.

    By Emily Banks Wooten

    When the Sam Houston State University football team clinched the NCAA FCS National Championship with its 23-21 victory over South Dakota State University May 16 in Frisco, fond memories came flooding back for local residents Joe and Nancy Hollis.

    Joe played football for SHSU when the Bearkats squared off against Middle Tennessee State University in the Dec. 1, 1956 Jaycee Refrigerator Bowl in Evansville, Ind. in which the Bearkats won 27-13. In those days, the Refrigerator Bowl was the equivalent of the National Championship, Joe said.

    “After that, we played in the Christmas Bowl in Natchitoches, La. in 1958 but we lost,” he said.

    “Joe’s 1956 team and this year’s team were the only football teams at Sam Houston that were undefeated,” Nancy said. “Other teams won championships but those two were the only undefeated teams.”

    “The ’56 group was a very unique group,” Joe said. “We were a close group of guys and after graduation we kept in touch and also kept in touch with the coaches even though there were some we didn’t think we liked at the time they were coaching us, but they were our friends after we graduated. It was a very enjoyable experience.”

    “It was more like a family, not a football team,” Nancy said.

    “Back then, you played both ways. You played offense and defense,” Joe said. “If you started a quarter you could come out one time and go back in, but if you came out after the quarter began, you could not go back in during that quarter.

    IMG 0878EMILY BANKS WOOTEN | PCE This treasured keepsake belonging to Joe and Nancy Hollis is the football program from the Dec. 1, 1956 Jaycee Refrigerator Bowl in which Sam Houston State University played Middle Tennessee State University in the Reitz Bowl in Evansville, Ind. Joe, a sophomore at the time, played guard for SHSU in this game in which the Bearkats won 27-13.

    “So consequently, you had to have two complete teams. The best team would play the first half, then the second unit would go in,” he said. “At that time we were fortunate enough that our starting unit was big, but maybe a little bit slower, then they’d send in the second unit. Consequently, the second unit scored more than the first unit that year.”

    Joe and Nancy met at SHSU and married in 1958.

    “The first year we were married we lived in the gym in a one-room efficiency apartment with a tiny little refrigerator and a couch that made out into a bed. They furnished light bulbs and toilet paper and gave you $28 a month,” Nancy said, as they both laughed at the thought.

    She began teaching at Aldine and left Huntsville every morning at 5 a.m. with her five-person carpool crew. Nancy said the reason she took the Aldine job was because it paid $3,604 a year and Huntsville and other schools around there only paid $3,204 a year.

    “I graduated in three years but it took him five,” Nancy said, in some good-natured ribbing. “But I learned so much more,” Joe said, giving it right back.

    A 1954 graduate of Groveton High School, Joe played football at SHSU for five years, having red-shirted his first year.

    “He already had half a master’s degree when he graduated with his bachelor’s in ‘59,” Nancy said. Having played fullback in high school, Joe said in the middle of his first year at Sam they decided he needed to be a guard, hence the fifth-year eligibility.

    Holding a bachelor’s degree in agriculture education with a minor in P.E., Joe taught horticulture for a number of years at both LaPorte High School and J. Frank Dobie High School. He coached football for 15 years, starting at Pasadena Junior High School and finishing up at Pasadena High School.

    The Hollises moved to Livingston in 1996. Their three sons – Keith, Mark and Glenn – all graduated from SHSU. They also have seven grandchildren and 10 great grandchildren.

    Joe spoke fondly about one of his teammates who was also his roommate. Known to all of his buddies as “D’Boy,” his actual name is Franklin Williams. “He’s been the one that’s kept everybody together. He calls each of us almost every week. He keeps up with who passes and when somebody passes he sends an arrangement and on the card always puts, ‘From the team.’ He’s just been really a Godsend to the group.”

    IMG 0879EMILY BANKS WOOTEN | PCE This is the 1956 SHSU Bearkat Football Squad. Joe Hollis, No. 64, is the third person from the left on the second row from the bottom.

    Joe said the group used to meet yearly at Crystal Beach where one of the guys had a house. “Some would come in on Thursday and some on Friday. We’d have a big fish fry and shrimp on Saturday. We’d tell all the old lies.”

    Unfortunately, the beach house was lost in one of the hurricanes and never rebuilt. Failing health has kept the group from meeting in recent years and sadly, the group is dwindling. “Three or four have passed this year,” Joe said.

  • Gold, gold and more gold

    DdaD57VV0AE95alCOURTESY PHOTO

    Onalaska athlete captures multiple first-place medals at state meet

    By PCN Staff

    “I am still feeling fine and my legs are not sore at all,” Onalaska student-athlete Will Boyce said Friday morning. “I'm ready to run more races if I had to.”

    Not exactly the answer you’d expect from someone who competed over three and half miles the day before, but then, Boyce isn’t your average athlete. He had one of the better showings in Texas history Thursday at the 2021 UIL State Track Meet, collecting titles in the 3200-meter run, 1600-meter run and 800-meter run.

    The 3200-meter run (two miles) occurred at 9:15 a.m., the 800 meters took place at 5:20 p.m. and the mile was a short time later at 7:50 p.m. in Austin’s Mike A. Myers Stadium.

    Boyce said the accomplishment hasn't really sunk in, but he has watched videos of the races and heard several people tell him he pulled off a feat never done before. Runners were not allowed to compete in more than two distance events before 2016. Obtaining gold in all three events is believed to be a first.

    “That mile (final race) was pretty tough on my legs,” Boyce said. “Coming off of that 800 was not fun, but trying to hold out to win all three of those races with a whole day’s worth of running — first of all, is unheard of and it is really hard to pull off, but I guess I had enough energy left in me.

    “I wish it was set up to where it was a two-day event to have more time to recover. I feel like, since it was so spread apart, that I was able to produce good times. It was definitely helpful. There wasn't much time to recover from that 800 race. If I'm being honest, me and my coaches and teammates went back to our car and ran the (air conditioner) and I laid out in the back. I just kind of rehydrated and refocused myself to finish that mile.”

    Though the school had just one representative qualifying for the state meet, Boyce scored enough points (30) for Onalaska to register a team finish of second place. He finished just 15 points off from team champion Brock.

    After crossing the finish line in the final race, he said there were many emotions.

    “This whole year, I've been pretty much preparing to try to Triple Crown at the state track meet. I've been working so hard throughout the year, and to have everyone there that supported me throughout my life, they helped me push toward that goal that day. I felt like I could accomplish it coming into it, but upon accomplishing it, it just blew my mind that I was able to do it. To describe the feeling is something that I can't say with words. It is pretty crazy.”

    9427COURTESY PHOTO

    All races had their own challenges, the Onalaska star said there was point in each where he felt confident in victory.

    “The mile, definitely I felt like I could win after that first lap (of four),” Boyce said. “We ran really slow on that first lap and coming off of that 800, I knew if we ran slow in the first lap, I would have been set up for a good sprint finish at the end. I knew I could beat everyone in a sprint finish, because I had the fastest 800 time going into the state meet. I was pretty confident at that point. In the 800, it was just teeth gritting and putting my head down and running fast. The two miles (3200 meters) was easy.”

    Both of Boyce’s parents attended Sam Houston State University and he will do the same to run for the Bearkats. He said the goal is to win as many championships as possible while in Huntsville.

    “Sam Houston has a really good program for people who want to be teachers. That's where I want to go and what I want to do in life, so I figured Sam would offer me the best education. It is also close to home and I'm more familiar with that area.”

    So, where do you go in the state’s capitol city to enjoy such an accomplishment?

    “The celebration (Thursday) night was kind of put to a halt. We couldn't find anywhere really to eat. We had to go to a Whataburger, but lots of Dr. Pepper was drank and lots of hugs and tears were shared. Today (Friday), we are going to go eat somewhere nice, I'll tell you that much.”

    Team standings (top 10) — 1. Brock, 45; 2. Onalaska, 30; 3. (tie) Dallas Life Oak Cliff, 22; Riesel, 22; 5. (tie) SA Great Hearts Northern Oaks, 20; Mineola, 20; Daingerfield, 20; 8. (tie) Whitney, 18; Franklin, 18; Spearman, 18; Little River Academy, 18

    3,200 meters — 1. Will Boyce, Onalaska, 9:27.31; 2. Marco Rey, Presidio, 9:32.30; 3. Wyatt Hoover, Poth, 9:34.78; 4. Angel Torres, Tornillo, 9:40.54; 5. Crawford Kiser, Amarillo River Road, 9:41.93; 6. Logan Courtney, Lorena, 9:54.74; 7. Jacob Bustamante, Bishop, 9:54.75; 8. Hayden Moussa, Ponder, 9:59.18; 9. David Magdaleno, Waskom, 10:16.18

    800 — 1. Will Boyce, Onalaska, 1:54.71; 2. Chris Saling, Tuscola Jim Ned, 1:56.48; 3. Obi Landeros, Valley View, 1:58.16; 4. Reese Lara, Santa Rosa, 1:59.01; 5. Ryan Butters, McGregor, 2:00.08; 6. Hayden Montgomery, Tulia, 2:00.28; 7. Rodolfo Sandoval, Progreso, 2:03.24; 8. Devin Ferris, Valley View, 2:03.90; 9. Tate Hughes, Wall, 2:08.06

    1,600 — 1. Will Boyce, Onalaska, 4:26.37; 2. Marco Rey, Presidio, 4:27.56; 3. Wyatt T. Hoover, Poth, 4:27.94; 4. Angel Torres, Tornillo, 4:30.52; 5. JoseCarlos Hernandez, Lytle, 4:31.47; 6. Travis Sims, Elysian Fields, 4:35.07; 7. Logan Courtney, Lorena, 4:35.77; 8. Noah Richardson, 4:37.01; 9. Hayden Moussa, Ponder, 4:45.05

  • 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 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.