Prior to the release of our All-Big Country Preps softball and baseball teams on Friday and Saturday, Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood will review the 2018-19 school year throughout this week and the top athletic stories produced by the area in football, boys and girls basketball, baseball and softball.
Our review of the 2018-19 athletic school year continues today with girls basketball, which, while it didn’t produce a state title for the Big Country, was never boring.
It is a long-standing Big Country hoops tradition to be very strong in both Class 1A and Class 3A girls basketball, and last season was no exception.
The area sent two representatives (Wall and Hermleigh) to the state tournament in San Antonio, continuing the area’s stronghold in both classes.
That said, let’s not waste time. Let’s dive in and take a look at the season’s highlights, shall we?
TEAMS OF THE YEAR
Wall and Hermleigh, which fell in the 3A and 1A state semifinals, respectively, to the eventual state champion in each class, top the list of our Big Country girls hoops teams for 2018-19.
Wall closed its campaign at 32-2 with a 53-49 overtime loss to Mount Pleasant Chapel Hill, but the Lady Hawks nearly won it in regulation when a last-second 3-pointer by Sawyer Lloyd was ruled (after several minutes of video study) to have been released after the buzzer.
Hermleigh closed the year at 30-6 after a 48-17 loss to perennial power Nazareth, which was making its 28th state tourney appearance. The Swiftettes went on to beat Dodd City 54-33 to take the state title with ease.
A third entry in this category: Benjamin, which reached the Class 1A regional quarterfinals after hardly being a blip on the radar over the past decade.
GAMES OF THE YEAR
Not to be redundant, but the Wall-Chapel Hill overtime game in the state semis is tough to top.
When one considers that Chapel Hill went on to beat Woodville 55-46 in regulation for the state title, it could be argued that its semifinal win over Wall is where the championship was truly won. And trust me, if we replayed the Wall-Chapel Hill game 10 times, Wall would likely win four or five of them. The teams were that evenly matched.
Running a close second: Jim Ned’s 41-36 overtime loss to Idalou in the Region I-3A semfinals — a game that saw the Lady Indians rally from an 18-3 deficit to force overtime.
This was an absolute heartbreaker for Ned.
Roscoe rising from the ranks of struggling program to solid playoff entry came as a stunner to many, and there was nothing fluky about it. The Plowgirls belonged in the postseason bracket — a message they sent with a second-place finish at the Anson tournament early in the season.
And how about Benjamin’s showing? This is a school where a graduating class of two or three kids isn’t uncommon. So piecing together a team of that caliber was truly astonishing.
Also forcing a double-take from me: Forsan’s march to the regional semifinals without the benefit of consistent offensive punch (and that’s putting it kindly).
This has to rank as one of the area’s great accomplishments in any sport over the past school year.
The Lady Buffs often struggled to put 30 points on the board but were so good on the opposite end of the floor, they literally defended their way to the regional and were a living model for the value of defense and rebounding.
An injury-plagued Haskell team getting stuck with a dangerous squad from Seagraves in the Class 2A area round would be considered premature in a perfect world, as would Stephenville (the winner of a powerful district) facing eventual state champion Argyle three rounds deep.
Brownwood saw its season end with a loss to eventual regional semifinalist Bridgeport in the bi-district round. Granted, the Lady Lions’ third-place finish caused this talent bottleneck, but if the regions were seeded, we would not have seen a matchup like this in the first round.
TEAMS ON THE RISE
Roscoe immediately comes to mind here. This is a team that was 12-42 over a two-year stretch before last season. Yet they nearly matched that win total this year with an 11-18 finish and a playoff berth that saw them lose to eventual regional semifinalist Christoval by 12. They had five additional losses, most of which were during a late-season upswing, that were by 10 points or less against good teams such as Albany and Haskell.
In the coming year, I would also look for both Comanche and Clyde (which were both extremely young last season), to take notable steps forward.
PREVIOUS REVIEWS: Football (published Monday, June 16)
Don’t miss our All-Big Country Preps softball and baseball teams, which will be released Friday and Saturday, along with Big Country Preps All-Hustle team, featuring the hardest-working players in the area! Our reviews of boys basketball, baseball and softball are coming up later this week.
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