Month: December 2019

EVAN REN: Hamlin, Lucas have earned their time in the sun

Everyone who regularly attends sporting events loves the sights, the sounds and the smells associated with simply being there. We soak it all in, take the images that are most notable, then splash them on to our memory like a fuzzy Leroy Neiman painting.

But imagery isn’t what keeps us coming back. That’s just the icing.

It’s the drama surrounding athletics that draws us in like a magnet. The human stories behind each team, each player and each coach are what capture our imagination and inspire us to root for one side, even if we have no vested interest in the outcome. 

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TOURNAMENT CENTRAL: Midland Christian tops Cooper, Wylie for Catclaw Classic crown

A week after finishing second at Abilene ISD’s Cane’s Key City Classic, the Midland Christian Mustangs left Wylie’s Catclaw Classic with the championship trophy, downing Cooper and Wylie on Saturday to complete a perfect 4-0 run through the Bulldogs’ annual tournament.

Midland Christian, which edged Abilene High on Thursday to win its pool, completed a clean sweep of Abilene’s three public schools on the Catclaw’s final day, routing the Cougars 79-46 before slipping past the tournament hosts 47-43.

Cooper, which finished 3-1 after rallying past Wylie on Friday, finished as the tournament’s runner-up, while the Bulldogs (2-2 in Catclaw action) took third in the nine-team field.

AHS, which also finished 3-1 with its lone loss to Midland Christian, wrapped up tournament play with a 64-38 drubbing of Georgetown East View to win the Purple Pod, designated for the second-place team out of each of three pools.

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TOURNAMENT CENTRAL: Cooper rallies past Wylie, AHS routs Seminole on Day 2 of Catclaw Classic

Matching up in the Purple Pod designated for pool winners, district and crosstown rivals Cooper and Wylie played a thriller Friday at Bulldog Gym to highlight the Day 2 action at the Catclaw Classic boys basketball tournament.

The Cougars rallied from an eight-point halftime deficit to defeat the homestanding Bulldogs 45-39 and stay perfect in the tournament heading into Saturday’s finale against Midland Christian.

Wylie’s loss, meanwhile, was a disappointing ending to the day for the tournament hosts, which closed out Pool C play Friday with a 65-41 win over Georgetown East View to earn its spot in the Classic’s top grouping.

In other action Friday, Abilene High defeated Seminole 67-47 in its Gold Pod opener, bouncing back from a tough loss to Midland Christian in pool play on Thursday.

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GAME STORY: Abilene High girls honor Roberson milestone, fall to Jim Ned

Before its home game against Jim Ned on Friday night, the Abilene High girls basketball team took time to honor one of its own — junior guard KK Roberson.

Roberson scored the 1,000th point of her career in AHS’ tournament last weekend, and the Lady Eagles recognized her for the achievement prior to their final nondistrict tuneup before opening District 3-6A play on Tuesday at Euless Trinity.

After hanging with the Lady Indians for the first half, the Abilene High offense went cold in the third quarter as Jim Ned pulled away for a 51-22 win at Eagle Gym.

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GAME STORY: Brock drops heartbreaker to Pottsboro in 3A state semis

FRISCO — For the second consecutive year, the Brock Eagles stood at the doorstep of a Class 3A state title game, only to have the welcome mat yanked from beneath them in gut-wrenching fashion.

Friday, the Pottsboro Cardinals did the dirty deed by way of a 36-35 win in a game for the ages at the Ford Center at the Star. An offensive battle that saw only two punts all night – one by each team – ultimately came down to a gem of a defensive play. Eagle running back Cash Jones’ “jump ball” pass to quarterback Jaxon Gleaton was picked off by Pottsboro’s Tyler Farris in the end zone with 45 seconds left, thus ending Brock’s season at 12-3. The Cardinals improved to 15-0 and will play the winner of Grandview and Columbus in the title game at AT&T Stadium next week.

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TOURNAMENT CENTRAL: Locals go 4-1 on opening day of Catclaw Classic

The Abilene High, Cooper and Wylie boys basketball teams narrowly missed a perfect start to the 2019 Catclaw Classic as the Eagles were unable to finish off a late rally in their second of two games Friday afternoon.

AHS opened the tournament with a 60-33 win over San Angelo Lake View before falling 43-39 to Midland Christian in its final game in Pool A action. The Cougars, meanwhile, won Pool B by beating Seminole 52-42 and Canyon 66-65.

The Bulldogs closed out the night with a 52-29 win over Bullard Brook Hill in their first game in Pool C play.

Continue reading “TOURNAMENT CENTRAL: Locals go 4-1 on opening day of Catclaw Classic”

GAME STORY: Hamlin routs Stratford to earn first state title game appearance

PLAINVIEW — When Hamlin and Stratford met the first time this season in a late September nondistrict game, the result was a forgettable one for the Pied Pipers. But the HHS players made sure to remember how they felt at the end of that 39-6 drubbing.

Playing the Elks again in the Class 2A Division II semifinals, the Pipers reversed that outcome Thursday night, riding a flawless start to 56-23 win that was even more dominating than the 33-point margin might suggest.

The victory, which improved Hamlin to 12-2 on the year, has the Pipers in their first state title game in school history — realizing a goal the HHS seniors set for themselves in junior high.

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BCP PLAYOFF FORECAST: Hamlin, Brock carry area flag into state semifinals

LAST WEEK:  3-3, .500

OVERALL: 486-95, .836

And then there were two. 

It’s difficult to believe,  but we’ve reached the state semifinals in football, leaving us about three weeks from the halfway point of the school year. Is it just me, or is that impossible? 

At any rate, we have two teams within the Big Country Preps coverage area —Hamlin and Brock —who are still alive at this stage, leaving me with a pair of difficult picks to make. 

A week ago, after a nearly season-long hot streak, this column slipped to a .500 pick record, going 3-3.  When people say most of the games are tossups at this stage, they’re not lying.

Nonetheless, I’m ready to dive in.  I’ll see you on the road.   

Here’s this week’s forecast:

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BCP Podcast No. 74: Evan and Dan talk state football semifinals and area hoops

In this episode, Daniel and partner Evan Ren discuss last week’s playoff football results, this week’s state semifinal matchups involving area squads and some Big Country hoops. 

Continue to check back at BigCountryPreps.com each Wednesday night at 7 p.m. when Evan and Dan discuss the current happenings in Big Country High School sports — often with an interesting sports figure from around the area.

You can also peruse our BCP Podcast archive, which features dozens of our previous shows with prominent coaches and Big Country media fixtures. 

Inquiries regarding these podcasts may be directed to Evan Ren at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com. 

If you have a suggested topic of conversation or a recommended guest, don’t hesitate to contact us! 

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FEATURE: First-year Haskell coach Michael Skelton adds up-tempo wrinkles to already successful program

HASKELL — To say that first-year Haskell girls basketball coach Michael Skelton has a tough act to follow might be the understatement of the 2019-20 season. 

Replacing former coach Blake Eddleman, who stepped down in the spring, Skelton inherited a program that had won six district titles over a seven-year span, reaching the regional quarterfinals three times and the regional semis once.  The Maidens were 178-41 under Eddleman, leaving a bit of a pressure cooker for whomever was chosen to keep that success going.

Skelton, a Jayton native who was coaching in Slocum last season, wanted the Haskell gig and all the expectations that went with it. 

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GAME STORY: Jim Ned sweeps archrival Wall in hoops doubleheader (w/three videos and two box scores)

TUSCOLA — It wasn’t a postseason matchup. It wasn’t even for a higher spot in a district race. But Tuesday’s early-December visit by the Wall Hawks for a nondistrict doubleheader with Jim Ned carried the same weight it usually does it Tuscola, bringing a large, enthusiastic crowd to Bill Thornton Arena.

Those clad in red left happy following a varsity sweep of Wall — the Lady Indians defeating WHS 50-33 in the opener and the Jim Ned boys downing the Hawks 47-44 in the nightcap. 

Brooke Galvin scored 20 points and Alexis Espinosa added 10 more to lead the Jim Ned girls (14-2), who built a 13-3 first-quarter lead and managed to stave off any serious threats the rest of the evening.

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LOCAL HOOPS ROUNDUP: Wylie boys, girls sweep Central on home floor

The Wylie girls basketball team used a strong first half to build a comfortable lead and held on through some offensive struggles in the second to secure a 28-22 win over San Angelo Central on Tuesday at Bulldog Gym.

The Lady Bulldogs outscored the Lady Cats 12-5 in the first quarter and 11-8 in the second to take a 10-point lead into halftime before going cold late. Wylie scored just three points in the third quarter and two in the fourth but did enough on the defensive end to improve to 8-6 with the win.

Continue reading “LOCAL HOOPS ROUNDUP: Wylie boys, girls sweep Central on home floor”

GAME STORY: Abilene High boys run away with 93-30 win over Big Spring

The Abilene High boys basketball team started hot and never cooled off Tuesday in a 93-30 win over Big Spring at Eagle Gym.

The Eagles raced out to a 21-14 lead after a quarter and matched or exceeded that scoring total in every period thereafter, taking firm control of the game by halftime.

Guards Jalen McGee, D.J. Modest and Joe Joe Escobedo all reached double figures, and every player on the AHS roster scored at least four points as coach Justin Reese’s squad improved to 8-3 on the season.

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FEATURE: With playmakers galore, Hamlin QB Warner may be an overlooked gem

It’s hard to imagine a third-year starting quarterback on a state semifinalist Texas high school football team being overlooked. Especially when his offense is averaging 47 points and 388 yards per game. And especially when he has completed 65 percent of his passes for 2,212 yards and 29 touchdowns against only four interceptions.

But that may be the case with Hamlin’s Braydin Warner.

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BCP PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Merkel’s Pursley earns this week’s top spot

It’s one thing to play great against teams from your own classification. But when one plays at a high level against programs much larger than his or her own, it tends to grab everyone’s attention. 

Merkel senior guard Kaydi Pursley, who has already been on the media’s radar for more than two years, may have just upped her assessed value even more (if that’s possible). 

Purlsey, who helped the Lady Badgers to a 4-1 mark last week, including a 3-1 finish at the Granbury tournament, put up big numbersagainst some big schools along the way to earn our Big Country Preps Player of the Week award. 

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FEATURE: Merkel’s White twins double trouble for opposing teams

MERKEL —Most girls basketball coaches would be happy with one post player as talented as Merkel twins Alyssa and Alaunna White. So MHS coach Laura Lange knows how fortunate she is to have the package deal.

The 5-foot-9 sisters that Lange calls her “crash crew” play a key role on both ends of the floor for the 11-3 Lady Badgers. And whether they’re scoring inside, fighting for rebounds or locking down the opposition on defense, the two juniors are impact players in every sense of the word.

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TOURNAMENT CENTRAL: Fort Worth Wyatt wins Cane’s Key City Classic, AHS drops third-place game

The Raising Cane’s Key City Classic came to a close on Saturday at Abilene High’s Eagle Gym and Cooper’s Cougar Gym with all three local high schools fighting to the end of the three-day tournament with impressive showings.

Fort Worth Wyatt won the championship with a second-half comeback for a 56-51 win over Midland Christian at AHS to close out the tournament.

The host Eagles and Cougars saw their tournaments end with tough losses, while Wylie got a much needed confidence boost with a win over Burnet.

AHS fell in the third-place game 49-38 to North Crowley. Wylie, meanwhile, had no issues with Burnet in a 86-47 runaway at Eagle Gym, and Cooper fell in the seventh-place game 72-66 to Justin Northwest at Cougar Gym. Continue reading “TOURNAMENT CENTRAL: Fort Worth Wyatt wins Cane’s Key City Classic, AHS drops third-place game”