Author: Daniel Youngblood

BCP Baseball Position Rankings: Infielders

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.

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LOCAL HOOPS ROUNDUP: Cooper, Wylie boys close season with bi-district losses

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.

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GAME STORY: Arlington Lamar puts clamps to Abilene High, ends Eagles’ season

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.

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BCP Baseball Position Rankings: Catchers

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.

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GAME STORY: Cisco boys rally in third quarter to escape upset-minded Merkel

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.

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BCP Baseball Position Rankings: Pitchers

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.

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DANIEL YOUNGBLOOD: This week in Big Country boys basketball (Feb. 24-March 1)

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.  

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GAME STORY: Jim Ned girls pull away late for comfortable win over Childress

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.

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BCP Softball Position Rankings: Utility Players

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.

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BCP Softball Position Rankings: Infielders

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.

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GAME RECAP: No. 14 Monterey ends Cooper girls’ season in bi-district round

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.

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GAME STORY: Cooper boys clinch playoff berth with win over Wylie

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.

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BREAKING: Big Country FCA announces participants for 2020 All-Star Festival

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.

Continue reading “BREAKING: Big Country FCA announces participants for 2020 All-Star Festival”

GAME RECAP: Wylie girls see season end at hands of No. 1 Amarillo High

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.

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GAME STORY: Merkel defense shines in 42-16 bi-district win over Bangs

It took the Merkel girls basketball team a little time to get going offensively in its playoff opener against Bangs on Monday, but a stifling defensive performance made that point moot in a 42-16 victory at McMurry University’s Kimbrell Arena.

The Lady Badgers, the District 5-3A runner-up behind No. 2 Jim Ned, held Bangs to six first-half points and used a 16-4 run through the third quarter to put the Lady Dragons away and earn an area-round date with District 8-3A champion Nocona.

Senior guard Kaydi Pursley led the Merkel effort with 14 points, all after the first quarter, while sophomore Alyssa O’Malley added 12 to help the Lady Badgers move to 26-8 on the year.

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BCP Softball Position Rankings: Pitchers

With softball season kicking off this week, it’s time to learn the names of or be reintroduced to the players you’ll be reading about throughout the 2020 campaign.

For the first installment in a five-part series that will cover all position groups on the area softball 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.

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DANIEL YOUNGBLOOD: This week in Big Country boys basketball (Feb. 17-23)

It’s hard to believe, but we have reached the final scheduled date of the boys basketball regular season. After Tuesday, all that will separate us from the playoffs are a handful of seeding games and coin flips.

But while most Big Country districts have already crowned their champions, plenty of intrigue remains heading into this final night of district games.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at this week’s top matchups and outcomes last week’s key results.

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FEATURE: Expectations sky high for Cooper freshman Speights

First-year Cooper girls basketball coach Arsenio Geter isn’t shy in his praise of point guard Kyla Speights. Nor is he particularly worried about overloading the freshman’s plate.

In fact, he’s already calling her the future of his program.

But Geter only puts those expectations — and the accompanying pressure — on Speights because he firmly believes she can handle it. And because he wants to make sure she understands the types of things she’s capable of and the enormous potential she has.

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LOCAL HOOPS ROUNDUP: Fourth-quarter woes doom AHS boys in loss to Trinity

EULESS — Playing Euless Trinity on Friday with a chance to clinch at least a share of the District 3-6A championship, the Abilene High boys basketball team suffered a disappointing setback in its final game of the regular season.

Leading 31-28 at halftime and 42-40 after three quarters, the Eagles were outscored 22-9 over the final eight minutes to fall 62-51 for just their second district loss of the season.

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GAME STORY: Wylie boys push District 4-5A champ Rider before falling 44-38

Coming off a disappointing 44-41 loss to Wichita Falls High, the Wylie boys basketball team gave District 4-5A champion Wichita Falls Rider all it could handle Friday before falling 44-38 at Bulldog Gym.

The Bulldogs took a 27-24 lead into halftime and were still within three points in the final minute, before the Raiders finally closed out the come-from-behind win at the free-throw line.

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GAME STORY: Cooper girls stifle Wylie down stretch to take District 4-5A’s No. 3 seed

Leading Wylie 40-37 with 4½ minutes remaining Friday at Abilene High’s Eagle Gym, the Cooper girls basketball team kept the Lady Bulldogs off the board for the next four minutes to secure a 46-42 win and lock up the No. 3 seed out of District 4-5A.

The Lady Cougars, who shared the district title with Wylie, Aledo and Wichita Falls Rider, bounced back from a 32-24 loss to Aledo on the first day of a four-team seeding tournament Thursday to beat their crosstown rival a day later and avoid a first-round playoff matchup with top-ranked and defending state champion Amarillo High.

That burden will instead fall to the Lady Bulldogs, who dropped a 48-32 decision to Rider on Thursday.

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GAME STORY: Wylie, Cooper girls fall to open District 4-5A seeding tournament

GRAHAM — It was a rough night for local teams on Day 1 of the District 4-5A girls basketball seeding tournament, and both Cooper and Wylie will have a Day 2 as a result.

Hoping to win their semifinal game to earn one of the district’s top-two playoff seeds and avoid having to play on Friday, the Lady Bulldogs dropped a 48-32 decision to Wichita Falls Rider in Thursday’s first game before the Lady Cougars fell 32-24 to Aledo in the nightcap.

Cooper and Wylie, which earned a four-way share of the district title with Rider and Aledo, will now meet at 5:30 p.m. Friday at Abilene High to decide who takes 4-5A’s No. 3 seed and avoids top-ranked Amarillo High in next week’s bi-district playoff. 

Aledo and Rider flipped for the No. 1 seed, with the former taking that distinction.

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FEATURE: Abilene High’s McGee stepping out of brother’s shadow, into spotlight

As a seventh-grader in 2016, Abilene High point guard Jalen McGee got to watch his brother, Calvin, lead the Eagles to a 31-5 record and a district championship in his final high school season.

With a win Friday at Euless Trinity, the younger McGee and his AHS teammates would get to celebrate the school’s first district title since then.

That feat would add yet another parallel between the high school careers of the McGee brothers, who bear their share of similarities — both in playing style and achievement. But as inevitable — and, to a certain degree, flattering — as the comparison is, Jalen would just as soon be judged on the merits of his own play.

The junior standout, who like his big brother made the Eagles varsity as a freshman, has been working since then to make his own name at Abilene High. And much of the success of the 2019-20 AHS squad, which enters Friday’s matchup at 23-9 overall and 10-1 in District 3-6A play, can be attributed to the strides McGee has made in that pursuit.

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BCP Podcast No. 81: Evan, Daniel talk Ballinger boys hoops with coach Jamal Anene

In his four years as Ballinger’s boys basketball coach, Jamal Anene has built the Bearcats into a consistent playoff team. The same is true this year of BHS, which enters a big game Friday against San Angelo TLCA at 23-8 overall and 8-2 in District 4-3A.

Earlier this week, Anene took a few minutes to chat with Big Country Preps’ Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood about this season, his goals for the program and his unique background for the Capital Farm Credit Wednesday Night Podcast.

Also in this episode, Evan and Daniel discuss the end of the girls basketball regular season and some of the biggest storylines in the final week of boys district games.

LOCAL HOOPS ROUNDUP: Wylie girls rout Wichita Falls High, Bulldogs drop close one

The Wylie girls basketball team wrapped up the regular season with a dominant performance Tuesday at Bulldog Gym, blasting Wichita Falls High 57-27 to improve to 18-14 overall and 5-3 in District 4-5A play.

The victory, combined with Aledo’s 41-36 win over Wichita Falls Rider on Tuesday, put the Lady Bulldogs in a four-way tie for first in the 4-5A standings with Aledo, Rider and Cooper. Those four teams will play a seeding tournament later this week at site to be determined.

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GAME STORY: Abilene High boys, girls sweep Weatherford on Senior Night

It took the Abilene High boys basketball team a little while to find a rhythm Tuesday against Weatherford’s zone defense. But once the Eagles got going, points came in bunches in a 72-29 win at Eagle Gym.

Leading just 10-6 after a quarter and 24-13 at halftime, AHS exploded for 29 points in the third quarter to run away from the Kangaroos for a blowout victory on Senior Night.

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DANIEL YOUNGBLOOD: This week in Big Country boys basketball (Feb. 10-16)

It seems like basketball just started a few weeks ago, but — believe it or not — we’re down to the final two weeks of the boys hoops regular season.

And with just three more dates remaining before the playoffs begin, the urgency has never been higher for area teams. Whether they’re fighting for a district title, jockeying to improve playoff seeding or just trying to find a way into the postseason bracket, Big Country squads will have plenty to play for in jam-packed Tuesday and Friday slates this week.

Without wasting any more time, let’s take a look at what the schedule has in store.

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FEATURE: Big Spring star Seymore’s game shaped by ceaseless work ethic

Coming off a sophomore season in which he averaged 15.6 points, 4.2 assists, four rebounds and three steals per game, Big Spring’s Kyler Seymore entered this season as an established standout.

And playing an even bigger role for coach Kris Hise’s squad as a junior, he’s been defended like one by opponents.

But if the extra attention or responsibility have been an issue for the 6-foot-2 guard, he’s done an awfully good job of hiding it. In fact, last year’s All-Big Country Preps Newcomer of the Year is playing more like an MVP candidate this year for the “Showtime Steers.”

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GAME STORY: Snyder boys rally for big win over Greenwood, grab share of 5-4A lead

SNYDER — Needing a win over Midland Greenwood to earn a share of District 5-4A lead, the Snyder boys basketball couldn’t have gotten off to a much worse start Saturday at Tiger Gymnasium.

Fortunately for coach Lee Scott’s squad — and those in the stands cheering loudly for it — games last 32 minutes, not 12.

Trailing 25-16 at the 4:35 mark of the second quarter, after falling behind by as many as 11 in the opening period, the Tigers closed the first half on a 12-2 run to take their first lead just before the halftime buzzer and controlled the second half from start to finish to score a 53-44 win.

The victory pulled Snyder (15-13 overall, 5-1 in district) even with Greenwood atop the 5-4A standings with two games remaining.

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LOCAL HOOPS ROUNDUP: McGee’s buzzer beater lifts AHS boys over Haltom

HALTOM CITY — Jalen McGee hit a long pull-up jumper just before the buzzer on Friday to lift the Abilene High boys basketball team to a 46-44 win over Haltom City Haltom in a key District 3-6A road game.

With the game tied at 44-all, the junior point guard dribbled the ball past midcourt and hesitated for a moment before driving just inside the 3-point line and pulling up just beyond the right elbow. A Haltom post player contested the shot, but McGee’s jumper found nothing but net to help the Eagles improve to 22-9 overall and 9-1 in league play.

Those points, McGee’s 18th and 19th of the game, completed a come-from-behind win for the Eagles, who trailed 17-5 after a rough first quarter.

https://twitter.com/ahseaglehoops/status/1225984878291963904

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SIGNING DAY: Trio of Wylie athletes make college decisions official

Wylie seniors Cason Hanna (football) and Austin Green (track) will be continuing their athletic careers in town at Hardin-Simmons while Dayton Barnes will be traveling a little farther after signing to play football at Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa.

The trio made those college decisions official Friday during a signing day ceremony in the Wylie High School cafeteria.

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SIGNING DAY: Six Abilene High Eagles headed to Hardin-Simmons

Six Abilene High football players will be trading their black and gold for purple and gold after announcing their intentions to continue playing collegiately at Hardin-Simmons during a signing day ceremony Friday at the Chuck Moser Field House. 

Offensive linemen Khalil Spivey and Jaxon Smith, defensive end Dylan Wright, safeties Colton Wilson and Jorge Hernandez, and running back Davonta Mayse all chose to extend their time as teammates a few more years, accepting offers to play for coach Jesse Burleson and the Division III powerhouse Cowboys.

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SIGNING DAY: Eight Cooper Cougars announce college destinations

After helping the Cooper football team to an 11-win season in the fall, eight members of the Cougar senior class will be taking their talents to the next level after announcing their college decisions during a signing day ceremony Friday at Cougar Gym.

The ceremony, which was delayed two days by the snowstorm that hit Abilene early Wednesday morning, saw all-state cornerback Dylon Davis sign to play for Division II Midwestern State, linebacker Aeneas Favors accept a preferred walk-on opportunity with Division I Oklahoma State and six others commit to stay in town and play for Division III power Hardin-Simmons.

Comprising the list of future HSU Cowboys were the offensive line trio of Devon Cosby, Gage McVey and Justin Smith, the defensive line duo of Colton Grimes and Jorrian Moses, and safety LaDainian Diaz, who recovered from an ACL injury that cost him his junior season to put up big numbers as a senior.

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FEATURE: Wylie guards’ growth spurring Lady Bulldogs’ development

In 19 years of coaching girls basketball, Wylie’s Amy Powell has never experienced a season quite like this one. 

After inheriting a roster with eight seniors in her first year as the Lady Bulldogs’ coach and losing four potential returners in addition to the heavy (but expected) graduation hit, Powell entered the 2019-20 campaign with just two varsity lettermen — both frontcourt players.

That left the Wylie girls and their coach with a brand new set of guards — and some massive shoes to fill in the absence of graduated standouts Mary Lovelace, Abbey Henson, Skylar Williams and Madi Latham.

Through a couple of unfortunate injuries and the natural inconsistency that comes with inexperience, that group has performed admirably for the 17-14 Lady Bulldogs. In fact, heading into its regular-season finale on Tuesday just one game behind District 4-5A co-leaders Cooper and Wichita Falls Rider in the loss column, Wylie can thank its guards and their progress for much of the success it has experienced this year.

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BCP Podcast No. 80: Dublin’s Parker talks ‘Flyin’ Lions’ basketball with Evan, Daniel

During his time at Dublin, boys basketball coach Will Parker has introduced an up-tempo, run-and-gun playing style that has not only increased enthusiasm around his program,but has helped the “Flyin’ Lions” win games. That’s a true again this season, which has seen the DHS boys produce a 20-9 record to date.

Earlier this week, Parker took some time to chat with Big Country Preps’ Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood about this year’s team, his philosophy on tempo and the success he’s enjoyed for the Capital Farm Credit Wednesday Night Podcast.

Also in this week’s episode, Evan and Daniel discuss the top upcoming matchups on the Big Country hoops scene and give their thoughts on Wylie’s decision to promote longtime defensive coordinator Clay Martin to head football coach.