Month: December 2021

GAME STORY: Cooper boys pull away for nondistrict road win at Sweetwater

SWEETWATER — The Cooper boys basketball team outscored Sweetwater 40-20 over the middle two quarters Friday to overcome a slow start and pull away for a 70-49 nondistrict win over the Mustangs.

Playing an SHS team that was coming off a tournament championship in Anson, the Cougars led their Class 4A foe by just two points (15-13) after one quarter. But coach Bryan Conover’s squad used a 24-6 run through the second period to take a 20-point lead into halftime and was never threatened after that.

The victory moved Cooper to 11-7 on the year and improved the Coogs to 3-1 since returning from the Christmas break. CHS went 2-1 at the Snyder tournament earlier this week, defeating Snyder (45-36) and Fabens (59-32) before falling by seven to Amarillo Caprock.

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PHOTO GALLERY: Anson Holiday tournament (222 images)

Digital photos, prints and keepsakes may be purchased by clicking on the “Buy on SmugMug” link below a selected photo. The “” watermark will be removed from all purchased photos.

Anson Holiday Tournament 222 images featuring:
Boys teams: Anson, Roscoe, Gunter and Sweetwater.
Girls teams: Roscoe, Seymour, Anson, Idalou

Continue reading “PHOTO GALLERY: Anson Holiday tournament (222 images)”

TOURNAMENT CENTRAL: Stamford girls rally past Holliday to claim title at Eula Holiday Classic

EULA — Trailing Holliday 46-37 with about 2½ minutes remaining on Wednesday, it looked as though the Stamford girls basketball team’s run at the Eula Holiday Classic would end one win shy of the tournament championship.

But having already won tournament titles at Ballinger and Merkel this season, the Lady Bulldogs had no intention of letting a chance at a third championship slip past them without a fight.

Despite struggling on both ends for most of the night, coach Joe Crabb’s squad closed regulation on a 9-0 run, getting a trio of clutch free throws from Tylee Jo Bevel with just over four seconds remaining to force overtime before pulling away in the extra period for a thrilling 58-52 victory.

The Lady Bulldogs’ dramatic win closed out an action-packed Holiday Classic, which also saw Hermleigh win the girls third-place game, the Jim Ned boys finish fourth and Eula and Early win consolation titles on the girls and boys side, respectively.

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BEST OF CAPITAL FARM CREDIT WED. NIGHT PODCAST: Hoops official Jeff Groban joins the show

With Evan and Dan taking a brief holiday break from the Podcast, Big Country Preps will be rereleasing two of its more interesting shows from 2021 tonight and next Wednesday.  The Capital Farm Credit Wednesday Night Podcast will return with a new release on Jan. 12.
TONIGHT: Longtime area basketball official Jeff Groban visits the show and gives us some insight into the challenges one faces in his profession. ORIGINAL RELEASE DATE: 3-3-21


TOURNAMENT CENTRAL: Stamford girls advance to title game at Eula Holiday Classic

EULA — After winning the Merkel and Ballinger tournaments, the Stamford girls basketball team put itself in position to win a third on Tuesday, advancing to the championship game of the Eula Holiday Classic with lopsided wins over Lingleville and Tolar.

The Lady Bulldogs, who routed Miles 75-31 on the tournament’s opening day Monday, cruised through the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds as well, defeating Lingleville 58-17 and Tolar 56-20 to earn a matchup with Holliday in the girls title game at 5:20 p.m. Wednesday.

Stamford was the only Big Country team to reach the championship game, as the Jim Ned boys and Hermleigh girls both fell in the semifinals on Tuesday — the Indians to Tolar 50-29 and the Lady Cardinals to Holliday 44-37.

Continue reading “TOURNAMENT CENTRAL: Stamford girls advance to title game at Eula Holiday Classic”

TOURNAMENT CENTRAL: Sweetwater boys take Anson tourney title, AHS girls take second

ANSON — One brief second-half surge was just enough to give Sweetwater a permanent upper hand in the championship game of the Anson Holiday Tournament on Tuesday, boosting the Mustangs to a 59-47 win over Gunter.

Harrison Foster scored 19 points and collected tournament MVP honors to lead Sweetwater (12-4), which used an 8-0 run in the waning minutes of the third quarter to take control of the game. Malik Brown added nine points, as did Damarrius Walker to help Sweetwater (12-4), which never led by less than five points the rest of the way. 

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TOURNAMENT CENTRAL: Jim Ned boys, Hermleigh girls advance to semis on Day 1 of Eula Holiday Classic

The Jim Ned boys and Hermleigh girls both advanced to the semifinals of the Eula Holiday Classic on Monday, headlining a list of six Big Country teams still vying for a championship at the annual tournament.

Eula will try to join Jim Ned in the boys semifinals when play resumes Tuesday, while Eastland, Lingleville and Stamford all remain alive in the girls quarterfinals.

Eula is set to take on Bells in boys quarterfinals action at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday at Eula Middle School. The girls bracket, meanwhile, will feature quarterfinals matchups between Eastland and Tolar at 9:30 Tuesday and Lingleville and Stamford at 10:40 — both at Eula High School’s Mary Mosley Gymnasium.

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TOURNAMENT CENTRAL: Anson boys, girls win pools; Roscoe girls rebound in Holiday Tourney

ANSON — Pool play concluded in the annual Anson Holiday Tournament on Monday, and nobody is in better shape than the hosts. 

The Anson Tigers and Lady Tigers both swept through pool play with two straight wins — the boys beating Seymour 39-38 and Roscoe (69-29), while Anson’s girls dropped Roscoe 43-30 and Seymour 55-38. Both teams will play in their respective “Gold” brackets today with a chance to win the Tournament championship. 

The Anson girls will face Farwell, the winner of Pool C at 8:30 a.m today.  A victory would advance them to the tournament championship to face either Idalou or Iowa Park at 6 p.m.  The Anson boys will take on Gunter at 1:30 p.m. If they win, they will face either Sweetwater or Farwell for the tournament championship at 7:30 p.m.

The Roscoe girls, despite their 0-1 start, recovered with a 63-38 win in the evening to secure a spot in the silver bracket where they will take on Lorena. 

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GAME STORY: Jim Ned girls, boys pull away from Ballinger for doubleheader sweep

TUSCOLA — For a quarter Tuesday, the Ballinger Ladycats gave third-ranked and undefeated Jim Ned all it could handle in the opening game of a District 6-3A basketball doubleheader at Bill Thornton Arena. But the Lady Indians countered with a 17-4 run through the second period and were never threatened again in a 62-37 victory.

Facing a zone look from the Ladycats, it took Jim Ned a little time to find its footing offensively. But after Ballinger rallied from an early 8-2 deficit to take a brief lead at 11-10, coach Hunter Cooley’s squad finished the first quarter on a 5-2 run before hitting six of its eight 3-pointers over the next two periods to pull take an 18-point lead into the final quarter.

From there, it was academic as the Lady Indians improved to 16-0 overall and 3-0 in league play with the comfortable win.

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CAPITAL FARM CREDIT/BCP PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Eakin takes our final award for 2021

NOTE: This will be our final Player of the Week award for 2021, but the column will return after the holidays on Monday, Jan. 10.

Our final Capital Farm Credit/BCP Player of the Week award for 2021 could not have been earned on a bigger stage. 

Stephenville receiver Coy Eakin claims the accolade, after earning Offensive MVP honors during the Yellow Jackets’ 38-21 win over Austin LBJ in the Class 4A Division I state championship game on Friday. 

It was genuinely Eakin’s night and for more reasons than one. 

Aside from hauling in nine catches for 187 yards and three scores (including a one-handed grab for a TD), Eakin rushed for another touchdown, forced a fumble, recovered an important onside kick and picked off a pass. 

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2021 BIG COUNTRY PREPS MAX EFFORT TEAM: The hardest-working players in area volleyball!

While our All-Big Country Preps Volleyball team is in place to honor those who achieved the most on-court success, our “Max Effort” team is something much more uncommon. 

This is a special accolade, which has nothing to do with talent or stats.

It is here where character, grit and work ethic — traits that coaches wish every player had — are recognized. It is here where we honor the best teammates and best citizens that area volleyball has to offer.

It is for that reason that this team is selected by area coaches and described in their own words.

Big Country Preps is now honored to present these individuals to you — the hardest-working, toughest volleyball players in the Big Country. Ladies and gentlemen: Our 2021 Big Country Preps Max Effort Team. 

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GAME STORY: Fast start lifts Cooper past AHS in boys hoops

For the second time in a week, the Cooper boys basketball team got off to a red-hot start in a game against crosstown rival Abilene High.

Unlike last week’s matchup in the Catclaw Classic, this time the Cougars were able to withstand multiple comeback attempts by the Eagles as Cooper knocked off AHS 56-46 on Friday night at Cougar Gym.

Jalen Cherry had a game-high 21 points for Cooper as the Cougars raced out to a 13-0 lead, never letting the Eagles get closer than six points the rest of the way. Cooper moved to 8-5 on the season with the win and avenged a tough one-point loss from last weekend.

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EVAN REN: Never underestimate the Jerry World factor

ARLINGTON — Who doesn’t like pageantry at the football state championship games? Who doesn’t like a big atmosphere? 

Of course, every real high school football fan loves it. That’s why we take part in the annual migration to AT&T Stadium each December to participate in Texas’ greatest high school spectacle. 

There is, however, at least one drawback and it showed itself in Stephenville’s 38-21 win over Austin LBJ in Friday’s Class 4A Division I state championship game. 

Sometimes, “Jerry World” (as it has become known in some circles) can simply overwhelm the event itself. 

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GAME STORY: Playmaker Eakin, opportunistic defense fuel Stephenville to sixth state title

ARLINGTON — After grinding out a trio of one-score wins to earn their way to the Class 4A Division I state championship game, the Stephenville Yellow Jackets spared their fans any unnecessary suspense Friday against top-ranked Austin LBJ.

The No. 2 Yellow Jackets rode a picture perfect start to a 24-0 second-quarter lead and held off the Jaguars from there to claim their sixth state championship with a 38-21 win.

SHS, which finished undefeated at 16-0, recovered fumbles on each of LBJ’s first four possessions and followed those with a goal-line stand and a punt to keep an explosive Jaguar offense off the board until the waning minutes of the first half. And senior receiver Coy Eakin fueled a strong offensive start, sandwiching a pair of first-half touchdown catches around a scoring run and a Corbin Poston field goal to put the Jackets in control by halftime.

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DANIEL YOUNGBLOOD: Brock ran into under-the-radar buzzsaw in Lorena

ARLINGTON — During a 15-0 run to the state championship in which they outscored their opponents by an average margin of 51-13, the Brock Eagles looked nearly invincible.

Ranked No. 2 for most of the season behind defending state champion Jim Ned, the Eagles cruised through Region I, routing the top-ranked Indians 70-25 in the third round before finally being tested in a 35-28 overtime win over Mount Vernon in the state semifinals.

It wasn’t until the state title game, however, that Brock finally met its match. And after Thursday’s 35-18 loss to Lorena, no other explanation’s really necessary.

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GAME STORY: Brock falls to Lorena 35-18 in Class 3A Division I state title game

ARLINGTON — Missed opportunities and inconsistency.

The stat sheet from Brock’s 35-18 loss to Lorena in Thursday’s Class 3A Division I state championship game largely masks both factors. Yet both were key reasons why the Eagles fell short at AT&T Stadium. 

Rhett Hanson rushed for 196 yards and three scores and Ryne Abel threw for 163 yards and another TD to lead Lorena (14-2), which earned its first state football title since 1987 and the 200th career win for coach Ray Biles. 

Brock finished its season at 15-1 — led by Tyler Moody with 170 yards passing and two scores and Kutter Wilson, who rushed for 171 yards and another TD. The Eagles were only outgained 370-359, but the game’s keys weren’t found on paper. 

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EVAN REN: Ables has earned a spot among the area’s top coaches

Ask a Big Country football fan to name the area’s most successful coaches over the past 20 years and the list will generally sound like this: Denney Faith, Brent West, Hugh Sandifer, Wayne Hutchinson, Patrick Corcoran, Gary Proffitt, Russell Lucas, Dewaine Lee, Mike Reed and a varying number of stragglers. 

You won’t hear the name Mitch Ables. Yet you should. 

In fact, a large number of area fans could not tell you for certain that he’s the Hawley coach. And many could not tell you that he has ushered in an era of success with the Bearcats that is absolutely unprecedented. 

Even I have been a bit slow at giving Ables credit for what he has become, and this extends well beyond Thursday’s 47-12 loss to Shiner in Hawley’s first-ever state championship game. 

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GAME STORY: Brooks brothers lift Shiner past Hawley in 2A DI state title game

ARLINGTON — Making their state championship debut, the Hawley Bearcats knew they would have to play near-flawless football in all three phases of the game to pull off a stunner against the defending state champion Shiner Comanches.

For one half Wednesday, it looked like the Bearcats might have the magic needed to do that, but a punishing Shiner running game and multiple second-half turnovers led to a 47-12 win for the Comanches in the Class 2A Division I championship game at AT&T Stadium.

Despite the loss, Hawley coach Mitch Ables was proud of his squad, which closed the greatest season in program history at 15-1.

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GAME STORY: Strawn rolls Motley County for state title

ARLINGTON — After falling a few yards short of a state championship appearance in 2020, the Strawn Greyhounds left no doubt that they were the better team on Wednesday afternoon in a 73-28 throttling of Matador Motley County at AT&T Stadium for the Class 1A Division II championship.

The redemption tour saw Strawn win all five playoff games on the 45-point mercy rule, an absolutely dominating run through the postseason.

Strawn scored at least 61 points in all of its playoff games en route to its third title in five years and fifth in school history.

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GAME STORY: Westbrook rides Ware’s legs to first state title

ARLINGTON — Entering Wednesday’s Class 1A Division I state championship game at AT&T Stadium, the Westbrook Wildcats had the 10th-ranked scoring defense in the state, giving up just 28.1 points per game.

On the other hand, May entered with the second-highest scoring offense in the state at 66.7 points per game.

Despite May’s offense having an average day by it’s standards, it was Westbrook’s defense that came up with the biggest play when it mattered most as the Wildcats won the first state title in school history in a 72-66 thriller.

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BCP WEEK 17 PLAYOFF FORECAST: Six area teams reach Arlington with state titles on the line

LAST WEEK: 3-1, .750
SEASON TOTAL: 509-107, .826

What a year for area football.

Six … count’em … six teams from the Big Country Preps coverage area still have a pulse in Week 17 and will compete for state titles at five different levels.

Strawn, May, Westbrook, Hawley, Brock and Stephenville will all make their way onto the turf at AT&T Stadium this week with a shot at the history books.

The Big Country Preps staff will be on hand at Jerry World, of course, soaking it all in and sharing it with you, our subscribers.

It’s difficult to believe, but its time to make my final round of picks for 2021. 

Here’s this week’s forecast: 

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GAME STORY: Williams, fast start fuel Abilene High boys to 46-38 win over Wylie

A near-perfect first half was enough for the Abilene High boys basketball team to overcome a rocky final two quarters in a 46-38 nondistrict win over Wylie on Tuesday at Eagle Gym.

The Eagles were outscored by 15 points over the final two quarters, but a 32-9 halftime lead kept coach Justin Reese’s squad from ever being threatened after the break.

The win, AHS’ fifth in its last seven games, improved the Eagles to 6-8 heading into Friday’s rematch with crosstown rival Cooper.

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GAME STORY: Abilene High girls can’t find rhythm in district-opening loss to Permian

The Abilene High girls basketball team put forth a strong defensive effort in its District 2-6A opener against Odessa Permian on Tuesday, but struggles on the other end kept the Lady Eagles from capitalizing in a 40-32 loss at Eagle Gym.

Bothered by the Lady Panthers’ ball pressure, AHS had trouble with turnovers all game. And when the Lady Eagles were able to get into their offense, they had a hard time getting open shots, finishing with just eight made field goals as a team.

Those offensive woes allowed Permian to stretch an 18-15 halftime lead to double digits by the midway point of the fourth quarter, supplying the Lady Panthers with the cushion they’d need to hold for the road victory.

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Big Country Preps’ Pick ‘Em Panel vs. Twitter Polls (Week 17)

Each week here at Big Country Preps, we’ll post our picks for all of that week’s 11-man games and select six-man games, in addition to the results of Evan Ren’s Twitter polls for each matchup.

For those interested in voting, polls go up on Monday night each week.

Disagree with our picks or the Twitter consensus? Let us know in the comments section below.

Continue reading “Big Country Preps’ Pick ‘Em Panel vs. Twitter Polls (Week 17)”

McAuliffe: Big Country fans have potential history to look forward to this week

There are 12 games left in the 2021 Texas high school football season, meaning just 24 teams have a shot at ending their season with the ultimate prize: a state championship.

Of those 24 teams, six of them are in the Big Country Preps coverage area — a pool from which five championships could be claimed.

That’s a significant shift from years past as the area has won a combined total of four titles in the past six years. Prior to that, the Big Country had a run of 10 championships from 2009-2014. The banner year during that stretch came in 2012 when Throckmorton, Stamford, Munday and Stephenville were all crowned as champions.

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CAPITAL FARM CREDIT/BCP PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Stamford’s Applin wins this week’s award

While scoring a lot of points is always an attention-getter, the Capital Farm Credit/BCP Player of the Week column puts a great deal of value in players who can contribute in a variety of ways. And today’s winner is a prime of example of that. 

Stamford junior guard Laylonna Applin takes our accolade after helping the Lady Bulldogs to a 5-0 record on the week, with wins over Burkburnett, Christoval, Class 4A No. 13 Sanger, the San Angelo Central JV and Veribest. The last for victories came in the Ballinger tournament, at which Applin was named MVP.

Yes, she did plenty of scoring, dropping in an eye-popping 134 points through five games. But Applin did a lot more than just put the ball in the hoop.

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