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Pirates bounce back

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                               JASON CHLAPEK I SJNT Shepherd guard Dillen Johnson (11) shoots over a defender during a recent game.

From Staff Reports

SHEPHERD — In a bizarre week that featured three games in a four-day span, the Shepherd boys basketball team maintained its stronghold on third place in the District 21-4A standings with a pair of wins last week.

The Pirates suffered a 66-50 setback at the hands of Hardin-Jefferson on Jan. 26, but bounced back to defeat Splendora, 56-45, on Jan. 27, and held off Liberty, 65-59, last Friday. Shepherd (13-10, 6-3 in 21-4A) hosted Livingston Tuesday night, and had a chance to clinch a playoff spot with a victory.

In last Friday’s win at Liberty, the Pirates dominated the first three quarters and led 47-24 heading into the final quarter. But the Panthers went on a 35-18 run to pull within six, 65-59, by the end of the contest.

Trase Thiessen led Shepherd with 23 points, while Carlos Renovato had 18. Bradley Davis (9 points, 14 rebounds) and Dillen Johnson (8 points, 9 rebounds) also contributed.

In the Pirates’ victory at Splendora on Jan. 27, they held a slim lead throughout and were led by a 14-point performance from Jesse Valerie and a double-double from Johnson (10 points, 11 rebounds). Renovato (11 points, 9 rebounds) and Thiessen (13 points) also contributed.

In the home loss to Hardin-Jefferson on Jan. 26, Shepherd trailed 45-39 going into the fourth before the Hawks soared to victory with a 21-11 game-ending run. Davis and Renovato led the Pirates with 20 and 16 points, respectively.

Shepherd visits Hamshire-Fannett at 6 p.m. Friday and hosts Huffman Hargrave at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

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Strong fourth quarter lifts Trojans

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IMG 3764BRIAN BESCH | PCE Dante Eldridge drives to the hoop.

BY BRIAN BESCH

The Trojans of Coldspring-Oakhurst used a late kick to handily defeat Onalaska, 90-44, Jan. 26, in San Jacinto County.

Onalaska managed to remain within striking distance of the defending state semifinalists for part of the third quarter, but Coldspring found another gear. The Trojan press was successful more times than not late in the contest, allowing for a 39-point final period.

"I thought we were a little rusty through the first three quarters," Coldspring coach Greg Devers said. "We haven't played since last Tuesday and I had some kids out, so we didn't get a chance to practice yesterday. We were wide open and we had threes and we had layups. Our defense was there and our quickness was there, but we just couldn't go."

Through four minutes in the fourth quarter, Coldspring scored 27 points and ended with 39 for the eight-minute span. Duke Lawniczak led all scorers with 32, freshman Luke Monroe had 14 -- all in the fourth quarter --and Jared Curry scored 12.

"I hope that kind of carries over,” Devers said of his team's fourth-quarter performance. “We are trying to get our rotation going and get ready for the playoffs.

"I thought Coach (Nicholas) Tyerman did a great job and I told him not to show that press break to anybody, because at the end of the third quarter, it was an 11-point game. He did a great job of preparing his kids for tonight."

It has been a while since Coldspring has been challenged within district, but New Waverly put a stop to the Trojans 39-game winning streak a few weeks ago.

"New Waverly is one of the top teams in this region. They are 18-1 and ranked No. 7 and we are 13-1 and ranked No. 12. The big showdown is going to be next Friday at New Waverly. Kind of like us last year, I think they are going to be the team to beat. We are not going to just let them have our district title. I hope we will have a couple of tricks up our sleeves when we play next Friday."

Devers said his team lacks the depth that they possessed during last year's run to the state tournament in San Antonio. He is looking for a few athletes to step into larger roles once the postseason begins. He also wants the team to work on its half-court defense.

Onalaska has struggled in the 20-21 season, but Tyerman sees improvement in his group. There were flashes of potential throughout the first three quarters of Tuesday.

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Coldspring runs past Shepherd, 73-51

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

By JASON CHLAPEK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Eagles fly past Trojans, 41-28

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KentreveyionPOP28p2COURTESY PHOTO The Trojans’ season came to an end last Thursday with a 41-28 playoff loss to Woodville.

By Jason Chlapek

CROCKETT – Ken Stanley had a hunch that the Coldspring-Oakhurst football team would have its hands full with Woodville last Thursday.

The head coach of the Trojans proved to be right. The Eagles used a balanced offensive attack and took advantage of a handful of Coldspring turnovers as they soared past the Trojans, 41-28, in a Class 3A-Division I bi-district contest at Monte Jack Driskell Stadium in Crockett.

“It was one of those tough nights where once we would get something going, we couldn’t get a stop or something wouldn’t go our way,” Stanley said. “It is what it is. We have to make plays and they made more than we did.”

Coldspring finished the season 8-3. Woodville (8-2) advanced to the area round where it faces Columbus at 7 p.m. Friday at Merrill Green Stadium in Bryan.

Last week’s playoff contest was a role reversal from two years ago albeit with the same end result. In 2018, the Eagles were the champions of District 12-3A-DI and defeated the Trojans, 34-7, in the bi-district round.

Coldspring was the fourth-place team out of 11-3A-DI and operated out of the spread offensively. Woodville ran the double-wing offense in 2018.

This season, the Trojans ran the double-wing and won 9-3A-DI, while the Eagles operate out of the spread and were the No. 4 seed out of 10-3A-DI. However, Woodville was in a three-way tie for second with Anahuac and Buna, but was the No. 4 seed because of a points tiebreaker.

“We knew they were pretty good and we had a pretty good game plan going in, but we didn’t anticipate a three-and-out or fumbling the ball,” Stanley said. “We were doing what we wanted to do, we were running the ball and moving the chains, but when we put the ball on the ground, we had to get in the spread and we were able to get some big plays out of that.”

A three-and-out and a lost fumble on Coldspring’s first two offensive drives led to a pair of Darrius Bean-to-Jaylen Kibble touchdown passes that put the Eagles up 13-0 midway through the first quarter. A second lost fumble on the Trojans’ third drive had Woodville smelling blood and gunning for a bigger lead, but Luke Monroe intercepted a Bean pass in the endzone on the opening play of the second quarter to give Coldspring possession at its own 20-yard line.

The Trojans needed just six plays to get on the scoreboard. Contavious Parker-Harden received a pitch from quarterback Duke Lawniczak, cut to his right and ran through a hole made by the offensive line for a 61-yard touchdown run that cut the Eagles’ lead to 13-7.

But Woodville answered. Bean connected with Jacory Hyder for a touchdown pass and Pop Prejean added the two-point conversion run to increase the Eagles’ lead to 21-7. Coldspring drove to the Woodville 8 as time expired on the first half behind Lawniczak completing passes to Tavaress Chambers and Dante Eldridge.

After blocking a punt on the opening drive of the third quarter, the Trojans set up shop at the Eagles’ 27. Lawniczak connected with Parker-Harden for 18 yards before the senior running back had an 8-yard run to the 1, the drive-capping 1-yard score and the two-point conversion run to trim the Coldspring deficit to 21-15.

The Trojans appeared to have caught a huge break when Bean threw his second interception of the night. But a fumble during the interception return was recovered by Woodville, and the Eagles responded with the first of Prejean’s three touchdown runs to increase their lead to 28-15.

Woodville struck again following a Coldspring interception as Prejean added a second touchdown run to give the Eagles their biggest lead of the night, 35-15, midway through the third quarter. Lawniczak scored on a 27-yard run to trim the Trojans’ deficit to 35-22.

Following a Woodville punt early in the fourth quarter, Lawniczak threw a pass that was deflected twice before being hauled in by Eldridge in the end zone for a 37-yard touchdown that pulled Coldspring within seven, 35-28, with less than nine minutes in the contest. But Prejean took over from there.

The Woodville junior ran the ball 10 times on the 12-play drive, including the drive-capping 7-yard touchdown run. Prejean ran for 138 yards in the second half.

“They kept moving the chains, picking up first downs and scoring,” Stanley said of Woodville. “Tip your hat to them.”

Parker-Harden ran for 155 yards and two touchdowns, while Lawniczak completed six passes for 122 yards and a score, while rushing for a touchdown. Eldridge caught two passes for 54 yards and a touchdown, while Greg Terry ran for 48 yards and caught a 35-yard pass.

“We had 10 seniors and they all played,” Stanley said. “They’re good kids and we’re going to miss them. We hope to get some of them to sign.” 

Eldridge, Lawniczak, Parker-Harden and Terry were four of the 10 seniors who suited up on the gridiron for Coldspring for the last time. The others were Bobby Bishop, Joseph Lemon, Matt Martinez, Caleb Monroe, Reagan Roberts and Trevor Vaughn.

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Trojans tame Tigers, 48-8

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Coldspring-Oakhurst quarterback Duke Lawniczak (3) rolls out as he looks for an open wide receiver during the Trojans’ 48-8 rout of Trinity last Friday. (Photo by Scott Womack)Coldspring-Oakhurst quarterback Duke Lawniczak (3) rolls out as he looks for an open wide receiver during the Trojans’ 48-8 rout of Trinity last Friday. (Photo by Scott Womack)

By Kraig Erwin

COLDSPRING — The Coldspring-Oakhurst Trojans opened up District 9-3A-Division I play last Friday with a 48-8 victory over the Trinity Tigers. Along with the contest being åwas also homecoming for the Trojans.

Coldspring has struggled to put together four full quarters of football this season, but changed that last Friday. The Trojans struck early on their first possession with a Contavious Parker-Harden touchdown run and seemed to be in control the rest of the night. 

The Trojan defense had only one hiccup in the first quarter, allowing Trinity’s lone touchdown by quarterback Treylin Goodman from 86 yards out. After the two-point conversion, the Tigers clung to an 8-6 advantage.

The Trojans didn’t bend after the score. Allowing minimal first downs and forcing turnovers, it set up the double wing offense to eat up the clock and control the game the rest of the night. 

Parker-Harden finished the night with 14 carries for 163 yards rushing and two touchdowns, while Greg Terry had 16 touches with 141 yards and a touchdown. Thomas Jackson had a touchdown on his only carry for eight yards. 

Senior quarterback Duke Lawniczak was perfect in the air at 4-for-4 with 73 yards, connecting with two receivers on the night. Dante Eldridge had three catches for 66 yards and a touchdown and Steven Flores had a catch for seven yards that also resulted in a touchdown. 

The Trojans are 1-0 in district and 4-1 on the season. Coldspring will travel to Huntington to face the Red Devils this Friday night.

Other scores in the week include Elkhart losing 49-0 to Crockett and Diboll beating Huntington 47-10, while Palestine Westwood had a bye week.

SPLENDORA 52, SHEPHERD 0

Splendora scored 52 points in three quarters in a 52-0 rout of Shepherd last Friday in Splendora. The Wildcats massed 433 yards of total offense.

Shepherd (1-4) opens District 10-4A-Division II play Friday night in Madisonville. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.

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