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MANSFIELD — The Eula girls outscored Saltillo 11-7 in the first quarter Friday and added to their lead in each of the next two periods to secure a 42-34 win in the Region III-1A semifinals and earn a spot in Saturday’s title game against No. 3 Lipan.
Coach Jamie Masonheimer’s squad led 19-14 at halftime, before increasing its lead to eight with a 9-6 run through the third quarter.
The Hermleigh and Veribest girls basketball teams will meet for the Region II-1A championship on Saturday after each earned victories in the semifinals Friday at Abilene Christian University’s Moody Coliseum.
No. 23 Veribest (26-10) punched its ticket first, holding off Aspermont 49-43 in Friday’s early game, before seventh-ranked Hermleigh pulled away in the second half for a 43-27 win over No. 16 Blackwell.
The Lady Falcons and Lady Cardinals will now face off at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Moody for a spot in the Class 1A state tournament, slated for Sept. 5-7 at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
PLAINVIEW — It wasn’t the Big Country’s night at Wayland Baptist University on Friday as Brock and Jim Ned were both eliminated in the Region I-3A semifinals in the Hutcherson Center.
The evening opened with Idalou eliminating Brock 44-28, after which Jim Ned fell 47-40 to Shallowater in the nightcap.
Both area clubs were plagued by cold shooting in the early going and neither recovered.
Shallowater (34-2) will meet Idalou (32-7) for the regional title Saturday at 7 p.m. in the Hutcherson Center, with the winner advancing to the state tournament.
After recognizing the Big Country’s top pitchers, catchers, infielders and outfielders, we wrap up our baseball position rankings series with the area’s multi-position standouts.
For the final installment in our five-part series, we take a look at the top utility players, ranking our top-six with others to watch in 2020.
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading through these lists and are as excited as we are that baseball season is underway.
HASKELL — If the Haskell Maidens are to reach the Class 2A state tournament in San Antonio this season, they will do it with a sprinkling of experience and a heavy dose of young talent.
Only one senior, Landry Hanson (15. 1 points, 6.6 boards per game), is on the roster, while three sophomores — Delaney Hanson, Emma Roewe and Melody Martinez — collectively contribute a large block of the team’s production.
The Maidens (31-3) will take their youthful act on the road to Levelland Friday night, where they will meet Panhandle (30-5) in the Region I-2A semifinals at South Plains College at 6:30 p.m.
The winner will take on either Stamford (26-7) or Gruver (30-2) in the regional title game set for 3:30 p.m. on Saturday in Levelland.
BRECKENRIDGE — The first couple of minutes of Brownwood’s Region I-4A area-round matchup with Wichita Falls Hirschi went exactly how coach Nadir Dalleh had hoped they would.
But after jumping out to a quick 9-2 lead over the Huskies, the Lions lost their shooting touch.
Brownwood was held without a field goal in the second quarter — the first time in at least four years that has happened according to Dalleh — and the Huskies got red-hot during the period to seize control on their way to a 72-40 win.
For Day 4 of our five-part baseball position rankings series, we focus our binoculars on the outfield grass.
After highlighting the Big Country’s top pitchers, catchers and infielders earlier this week, we now do the same with the area’s best outfielders, ranking our top 10 with others to watch in 2020.
We hope you enjoy our list.
TUSCOLA —If it can be said that no team makes it to the state tournament without productive guard play, then the Jim Ned Lady Indians could list themselves as viable candidates heading into Friday’s Region I-3A tournament in Plainview.
Senior Brooke Galvin, a four-year varsity player with a penchant for leadership, is a primary reason for that.
Jim Ned (34-3), which will take on Shallowater (35-2) in a regional semifinal slated for 7:30 p.m., will lean on Galvin to not only direct the offense, but to help keep the team poised in what is almost certain to be a raucous and difficult environment.
The Lady Indians won’t be alone in this challenge. In fact, all four qualifiers in this week’s event at Wayland Baptist University, which includes Brock (30-7) and Idalou (31-7), are known for having high-quality backcourts.
After ranking the top pitchers and catchers on the Big Country baseball scene the past two nights, we now turn our attention to the infield.
For the third installment in our five-part position rankings series, we list our top-10 infielders in the area with a list of others to watch in 2020.
We hope you enjoy reading through our rankings.
With the surviving area girls teams heading into their various regional tournaments and the boys moving into the area round, Evan and Daniel to take a look at the most recent area results and pairings.
Tonight, they are joined by Brock coach Shawna Lavender, whose Lady Eagles will be facing Idalou in the Region I-3A tournament in Plainview on Friday.
SLATON — The Cooper boys basketball team played right with Amarillo Palo Duro for three quarters Tuesday, but the Dons pulled away in the fourth to win the Region I-5A bi-district playoff 65-50.
Leading by just four points at the end of the third quarter, Palo Duro outscored Cooper 17-6 over the final eight minutes to end the Cougars’ season at 12-20.
Describing how she felt was hard for Stamford girls basketball coach Missy Dutchover on Tuesday night after her squad earned its first ever regional tournament berth with a 49-39 win over Albany at Hardin-Simmons University’s Mabee Complex.
“It’s a little surreal right now,” Dutchover said. “I’m really proud of my kids. We talked really big about taking advantage of your opportunities because you don’t know when you’re going to get them again.”
Sophomore guard Tylee Jo Bevel had a game-high 16 points for the Lady Bulldogs and was equally speechless as Stamford gets ready to face No. 3 Gruver in Friday’s Region I-2A semifinals at 8 p.m. at South Plains College in Levelland.
COLORADO CITY — When one pressure basketball team meets another, something chaotic can often emerge. And in the case of Haskell’s 60-46 win over Christoval, there was scarcely enough time for either side to think things through.
So frenetic was Tuesday’s Region I-2A quarterfinal, that the Maidens survived more than 20 turnovers and a huge mid-game rally by Christoval to win by double-digits.
Landry Hanson scored 25 points, including a 12-of-17 effort from the free-throw line and Delaney Hanson added 10 more to lead eighth-ranked Haskell (31-3) which now advances to face 10th-ranked Panhandle (30-5) in the regional semifinals.
Christoval was led by Allison Vaughn with 16 points and Kallie Montalvo with 10. The Lady Cougars closed their campaign at 23-11
MINERAL WELLS — The pressure got to the Abilene High boys basketball team Tuesday in the Eagles’ playoff opener against Arlington Lamar. But not the kind one might think.
Coach Justin Reese’s team showed up focused and ready to play, staying within a bucket of Lamar into the final minutes of the first half. But the Vikings full-court pressure wore the Eagles down over time in a 60-47 win.
Lamar rode a 9-3 run late in the second quarter to a seven-point hafltime lead and expanded it in each of the next two quarters to end AHS’ first playoff season since 2017 — and best since 2016 — at 23-9.
After opening our baseball position rankings series with the pitchers on Monday, it’s time to shift our attention to their battery mates.
For the second installment in our five-part series, we celebrate the Big Country’s top catchers, ranking our top 10 with a list of others to watch in 2020.
We hope you enjoy our list.
Marc Case is at it again, taking over a high school basketball team in urgent need of a coach and turning it into a winner.
This time it’s at Clyde — the second season of his second stint as the Bulldogs’ head coach. The passionate, fiery, old-school fundamentals coach who began his career in the 1970s has guided the Bulldogs back into the playoffs with a 19-14 record. Clyde will face Early (also 19-14) in a Class 3A boys’ bidistrict game at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in Brownwood Coliseum.
“I always loved playing in the Coliseum,” the seemingly ageless 68-year-old Case said the other day. “I know it’s only five miles for Early to travel and 70 miles for us, but it’s a great place to play with a great atmosphere.”
Some might suggest Tuesday’s game will bring Case’s basketball career full circle, considering he played multiple times in Brownwood Coliseum from 1969-1973 as a McMurry guard going against the Howard Payne Yellow Jackets when both colleges were Lone Star Conference members.
HERMLEIGH — The Haskell boys basketball team has thrived for years at home in the Tee Pee and closed out the venerable gymnasium last week with a win to head into the postseason on a high note.
Monday night, the Indians had to feel like they were right back in the Tee Pee as a boisterous crowd buoyed a 14-0 run to start the second half in a 60-43 win over Forsan in a Region I-2A bi-district game.
The advantage Haskell received on its home court this season was something coach Josh Webb saw pay dividends to open the postseason.
BRECKENRIDGE —A big scoring night from Behren Morton and a solid team defensive effort carried the Eastland Mavericks into the area round in Monday’s 47-25 bi-district win over Anson.
Morton scored 17 points and Cooper Wright added 13 more to lead Eastland (16-13) which awaits the winner of Tolar and Childress for the area title. The Mavericks never allowed more than eight points in any quarter, and led from the 4:20 mark of the first quarter until the final buzzer.
Anson, which got seven points from Gavin Williams and six from Dylyn Pyle, closed its season at 17-15.
“We were able to get some matchups that were to our advantage and to hold some really good, quality offensive guys down,” Eastland coach Doug Galyean said. “(Anson) has some really good shooters and we just didn’t allow them to get very many good looks. Just credit our kids for playing hard and getting after it.”
The fourth-seeded Merkel Badgers put a scare into Cisco for a half Monday, but the District 6-3A champion Loboes regrouped at the break to secure a 53-42 win in a Region I-3A bi-district playoff at McMurry University’s Kimbrell Arena.
Trailing 31-24 at halftime, Cisco used an 18-2 run through the third quarter to take control and held off a Badger rally in the fourth to earn an area-round date with No. 11 Brock.
After kicking off the spring sports season with our softball position rankings last week, it’s time to turn our attention to the the baseball field and the names we’ll be hearing and reading about throughout the 2020 campaign.
For the first installment in a five-part series that will cover all position groups on the area baseball scene, we’ll be taking a look at the Big Country’s top pitchers, ranking our top 10 with a list of others to watch this fall.
We hope you enjoy reading through our list.
What better way to say goodbye to the home folks than with a career night?
Cisco senior Gibson Hearne, who has been one of the area’s top players for the better part of two years, did exactly that last week in a 112-49 win over Comanche is the Loboes’ home finale.
Get this: 35 points, 17 rebounds, seven assists and five steals.
There’s a simple explanation why Skylar Stilwell has topped 1,500 career points as a Stephenville High School senior.
“He loves basketball,” Stephenville coach Bill Brooks said of his third-year starter. “He’s what you call a gym rat. He’s in the gym every day of the offseason and the summer working on his shot. He’s constantly trying to be the best player he can be.
“It’s a big deal when a high school player scores 1,000 points in his career. Skylar passed 1,000 points in one of our last games last year when he was a junior. He has more than 1,500 points now.”
To put 1,500 points in perspective, a player must average 16.6 points per game for three seasons consisting of 30 games each. Stilwell averaged 13 points per game as a sophomore and 17 points per game as a junior last season.
We’re a week into postseason play and the fields have been narrowed to 32 teams statewide in each classification.
Following the regional quarterfinals on Monday and Tuesday evening, we’ll be in the Texas equivalent to the Sweet 16, where regional titles will be decided in far-flung places all over the state.
Let’s take a quick peek at what this week has to offer in the Big Country:
The playoffs are here for Texas’ high school boys basketball teams and, as always, Big Country squads will have their say in how the postseason plays out.
No fewer than 44 local and area teams have qualified for the playoffs in their respective classifications, giving us plenty to talk about as bi-district play gets underway Monday night.
From here on out, it’s win or go home, and with two rounds scheduled for this week and three for next, it won’t take long to see who all has a deep run in them.
With that, let’s take a look at what this first round has to offer.
Here are the updated Big Country boys basketball playoff results (through March 7):
Barely losing to Mart in the Class A Division II football championship game unquestionably stung.
But the Hamlin athletes who assembled eight days later for the team’s first basketball practice on Dec. 27 had a forward-thinking mindset.
“They were still kind of disappointed, but we had a good practice,” coach Joe Thomasson recalled. “For the most part, we played as hard as we could (against Mart). Kids are more resilient than we are as grownups. They were like, ‘We lost, let’s move on.’”
The Pied Pipers have certainly done just that, transferring their gridiron dominance over to the hardwood. After sweeping District 14-A, they enter the playoffs with a 12-1 record and a first-round bye.
STAMFORD — After watching Childress trim a six-point halftime lead to one late in the third quarter, Jim Ned coach Hunter Cooley could feel the momentum shifting in Friday’s Region I-3A area-round matchup with the Lady Cats.
So he did what good coaches often do in that situation: called a timeout to settle things down and challenged his team to tighten things up.
That tactic clearly worked as the No. 2 Lady Indians scored the next 10 points as part of an 18-7 game-ending run to secure a 46-34 win and earn a Region I-3A quarterfinal date with Bowie at 6 p.m. Tuesday in Cisco.
STEPHENVILLE — As many playoff games do, Friday’s Class 3A area round matchup between Eastland and perennial power Brock came down to defensive stops and which team could produce the most of them.
Brock, which has made a living on solid defense for years, gained the upper hand on that side of the court and advanced with a 52-40 win at Stephenville High School.
Olivia Lewis tossed in 14 points and Torrye Tyler added 13 more to lead Brock (29-7), which will face Nocona (20-8) in the Region I quarterfinals next week.
Eastland, which stubbornly remained within striking distance throughout the evening, was led by Macy McGaha with 13 points and Hannah Jordan with 12. The Lady Mavericks closed the season at 23-13.
It might have been Abilene High’s Eagle Gym, but on Friday night, Noah Garcia took ownership for Cooper.
The junior had a game-high 27 points — 20 in the first half — as the Cougars knocked off Wylie for the third time this season with a 62-50 win, claiming the third seed from District 4-5A.
“We are going to go best-of-seven,” Cooper coach Bryan Conover said, jokingly. “It just worked out that way (to play) four times in a year. They’re really good and we didn’t have to spend much time scouting. We knew what we were getting into, and the kids came out and played well.”
After recognizing the top pitchers, catchers, infielders and outfielders that the Big Country softball scene has to offer, we close our position ranking series with a celebration of versatility.
For the final installment in our five-part series, we take a look at the top utility players, ranking our top-six multi-position standouts.
We hope you’ve enjoyed reading through these lists and encourage you to come back next week when we’ll feature the top baseball players in the Big Country.
BROCK — She’s only 17. She’s only a 5-foot-7 junior. And she’s been tasked with leading one of the top girls basketball programs in the state through what other schools may have called a “rebuilding” year.
Yet heading into Friday’s Region I-3A area-round game with Eastland, Brock’s Torrye Tyler has produced some of the best all-around numbers of any player in the Big Country Preps coverage area.
A 19.9-point scoring average (ranked second by Big Country Preps), combined with 3.7 assists (seventh by BCP) and 3.1 steals (21st) bear witness to how impactful she has been in a 28-7 Brock campaign that has seen this perennial power continue to roll.
After spending the first three days of our softball position rankings series in the dirt, we move the grass for Day 4.
For the penultimate installment of our five-part series, we take a look at the top outfielders in the Big Country, ranking our top 10 with others to watch in 2020.
We hope you enjoy our list.
After highlighting the top pitchers and catchers on the Big Country softball scene the past two nights, it’s time to turn our attention to the field.
For the third installment in our five-part position rankings series, we list our top-10 infielders in the area for the 2020 season.
We hope you enjoy reading through our rankings.
With the area girls heading into the area round of the playoffs and the boys settling their final tiebreakers to determine seeding, it’s time for Evan and Daniel to take a good look around the area.
All the top favorites, all the top surprises and what they’re up against will be this week’s topic of conversation.
BIG SPRING — The Cooper girls basketball team saw its best season in more than a decade come to an end in the bi-district round of the Region I-5A playoffs Tuesday, falling 77-38 to No. 14 Lubbock Monterey at Howard College’s Dorothy Garrett Coliseum.
Cooper, which topped the 20-win mark and earned a share of its first district title since 2007, closed its first season under coach Arsenio Geter at 24-12.
Needing a win to avoid a playoff with Wichita Falls High for District 4-5A’s fourth and final playoff spot, the Cooper boys basketball team came through in the clutch against crosstown rival Wylie on Tuesday.
Leading 14-10 after a quarter, the Cougars used a 15-6 run through the second period to take a 13-point lead into halftime and kept the injury-ravaged Bulldogs at arm’s length the rest of the way in securing a 66-54 at Cougar Gym.
The victory pulled Cooper into a third-place tie with Wylie at 3-5 in the district play, setting up a rematch between these teams at 7 p.m. Friday at Abilene High to decide the third and fourth seeds in 4-5A.
HASKELL — It was viewed by some as a going-away party, marking the final night of basketball in Haskell’s Tee Pee, with struggling Cross Plains serving as the sacrificial lamb.
Someone forgot to give the Buffaloes the memo.
Instead, Tuesday’s District 8-2A matchup saw the Buffs crash the party and nearly send the Tee Pee (opened in 1956) off on a losing note. Haskell hung on for a 50-46 win, but not before Cross Plains rallied from deficits of 15-8 in the first half and 40-23 in the second.
Cutter Medford scored 21 points and Landry Olson added 11 more to lead Haskell (13-19, 7-3), which saw a 17-point third-quarter lead whittled to five by the 2:05 mark of the fourth.
Casen Conlee and Caleb Hernandez led the way for Cross Plains, which finished its season at 6-20 and 2-8.
After kicking off our softball position rankings series with the pitchers on Monday, we now shift our attention to their battery mates.
For the second installment in our five-part series, we rank the area’s top-10 catchers to watch out for in 2020.
We hope you enjoy our list.
The Big Country Fellowship of Christian Athletes announced the players selected to compete in the 2020 FCA All-Star Festival on Tuesday — a list that features 320 athletes from 71 Big Country and Concho Valley area high schools.
The Festival, which is comprised of all-star competitions in football, basketball, volleyball, baseball, softball and golf, is scheduled for June 7-13 at four different sites.
The coaches for the Festival, which were announced January, can be found here.
Continue reading for the complete list of the athletes selected to compete.
NOTE: Photos courtesy of Gary Matlock, Sandy Sheets and Kaci Rainbolt
Jake Diggs had to Google the town of Westbrook when was graduating from Texas Tech and looking for a coaching job seven years ago. A native of White Deer in the Texas Panhandle, Diggs was pleased to learn it was only a couple of hours south of Lubbock.
Now in his sixth year as head coach, the 30-year-old Diggs has guided the Class 1A Westbrook High School Wildcats to their first outright district championship in boys’ basketball in 19 years. The Wildcats earned a district co-championship in 2005-2006, but their last outright title came in 2001.
“When I came here, I was a 24-year-old kid and thought I knew it all,” Diggs said. “Winning district has been kind of a relief. It gives you the feeling that what you have been doing is working — that the hard work is starting to pay off.
“We’ve missed the playoffs by one place the last three years. So it’s nice to not only get into the playoffs, but also to do it as the district champs.”
The Wylie girls basketball team saw its season come to an end Monday with a 72-39 loss to top-ranked Amarillo High in a Region I-5A bi-district matchup at Lubbock Christian University’s Rip Griffin Center.
The Lady Sandies raced out to a 20-12 lead after a quarter and buckled down defensively over the middle two periods to increase their advantage to 39 points (63-24) by the start of the fourth quarter.
The win improved Amarillo High’s record to 33-2, while Wylie closed its campaign at 18-17.