Author: Daniel Youngblood

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.

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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: 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: AHS, Wylie go 1-1 on Day 2 of Cane’s Key City Classic

A busy second day of the Cane’s Key City Classic saw the Abilene High boys split two games against top-25 teams in Class 5A, Wylie pick up its first win of the tournament and Cooper fall to Midland Christian as well as Class 3A’s No. 11-ranked Peaster.

The Eagles beat No. 23 Justin Northwest 68-64 in the quarterfinals before running out of steam in the second half of a 60-45 loss to No. 8 Fort Worth Wyatt at Eagle Gym. Abilene High faces North Crowley at noon Saturday in the third-place game at AHS.

Wylie lost 58-38 in the consolation quarterfinals to Granbury North Central Texas Academy before bouncing back with a 43-35 win over El Paso Burges. The Bulldogs will look to end the tournament on a high note in their 9 a.m. game at AHS against Burnet.

Cooper, meanwhile, struggled in its quarterfinal in a 73-51 loss to Midland Christian. In their nightcap, the Cougars mounted a late rally before Peaster pulled away late for a 63-56 win. The Coogs will face Justin Northwest at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Cougar Gym in the seventh-place game.

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GAME STORY: Hamlin blows out Wellington, earns spot in state semifinals

VERNON — A little more than a year after toppling Wellington in one of the biggest upsets of the 2018 season, the Hamlin Pied Pipers bested the Skyrockets once again on Friday.

This time, it earned coach Russell Lucas’ squad a spot in the Class 2A Division II state semifinals.

Trailing the Rockets 8-0 early in the second quarter after a sluggish start offensively, Hamlin rattled off 36 unanswered points on their way to an impressive 43-22 win, clinching the Pipers the Region II-2A DII championship and earning them a rematch with Stratford next week for a spot in the program’s first state title game.

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TOURNAMENT CENTRAL: Abilene High, Cooper win openers at Cane’s Key City Classic

The Abilene High and Cooper boys basketball teams earned their way into the championship bracket of the Cane’s Key City Classic on Thursday, winning their first-round matchups over Del Rio and Saginaw Boswell, respectively.

The Eagles ran away from the Rams over the middle two quarters for a 78-47 victory at Eagle Gym, while the Cougars used a strong fourth period to beat the Pioneers 55-41 and claim their first win of the season.

AHS (6-1) and Cooper (1-4) will be joined in the championship bracket by Fort Worth Wyatt, Northwest Eaton, Justin Northwest, Peaster, North Crowley and Midland Christian, which also came away with first-round wins on the Classic’s first day.

Wylie, which fell 59-47 to Eaton in its tournament opener Thursday, will play in the consolation bracket with Granbury North Central Texas Academy, Del Rio, El Paso Burges, McKinney Boyd, Midland Lee, Boswell and Burnet.

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BCP Podcast No. 73: AHS’ Justin Reese checks in to talk Eagle hoops, Cane’s Key City Classic

As a former Abilene High Eagle himself, second-year AHS boys basketball coach Justin Reese has a strong desire to return the Eagle program to the glory it enjoyed in the 1980s and 90s. And for him, a big part of that is bringing back some of the traditions that helped make the AHS program what it was.

One of those was Abilene ISD’s Key City Classic, which is back for the first time in decades thanks in large part to Reese, who made it a priority upon his hiring to bring a high-profile tournament back to town. With the first Cane’s Key City Classic set to tip off Thursday, Reese took a few minutes to chat with Big Country Preps Daniel Youngblood about the tournament, his return to Abilene and this year’s Eagle team for the Capital Farm Credit Wednesday Night Podcast.

Also in this episode, Daniel and partner Evan Ren discuss last week’s playoff football results and this week’s region championship game matchups involving area squads. 

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! 

BCP PODCAST ARCHIVE 

BIG COUNTRY PREPS FACEBOOK PAGE 

BIG COUNTRY PREPS TWITTER PAGE 

PREVIEW: Cane’s Key City Classic set to tip off Thursday

The Abilene High, Cooper and Wylie boys basketball teams will all be in action Thursday when the first Cane’s Key City Classic tips off at the Abilene High and Cooper gymnasiums.

The tournament, the reimagining of an annual event that Abilene ISD hosted in the past, will bring some of the top programs in the state to Abilene for a weekend of basketball that will feature 32 games between the two sites.

In addition to the local high schools, the star-studded field will also feature teams from Fort Worth Wyatt, Granbury North Central Texas Academy, Northwest Eaton, Del Rio, Justin Northwest, El Paso Burges, Peaster, McKinney Boyd, Midland Lee, North Crowley, Saginaw Boswell, Burnet and Midland Christian.

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GAME STORY: Merkel girls ride big second quarter, stifling defense to win over Wylie

MERKEL — The Merkel Lady Badgers continued what’s been an excellent start to the season Tuesday, using a 17-point second quarter to take control of what was otherwise a defensive slugfest against the visiting Wylie Lady Bulldogs.

Playing a WHS team that was coming off a big nondistrict win over mutual rival Jim Ned, coach Laura Lange’s squad stifled the Lady Bulldogs from start to finish and did enough offensively in that second period to secure a 31-18 victory at Badger Gym.

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BREAKING: UIL announces conference cutoffs for next two school years

The UIL announced the conference cutoffs for the 2020-21 and 2021-22 school years on Tuesday. Here are the cutoff figures and a list of where each school in the Big Country Preps coverage area will fall at the next district realignment.

An asterisk has been placed by every school that has changed divisions since the last alignment, with an arrow indicating which direction they’ve moved.

The UIL will announce the new districts for the next two athletic years during its biennial realignment on Feb. 3.

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GAME RECAP: McGee, Watts fuel Abilene High boys to rout of Plainview

SNYDER — Jalen McGee and Nathan Watts each scored 16 points Monday to lead the Abilene High boys basketball team to a comfortable 66-37 win over Plainview in a nondistrict matchup at Snyder High School.

The Eagles outscored the Bulldogs in all four quarters, racing out to a 17-7 first-quarter lead and using a 20-11 third-quarter run to break open a 29-16 game at halftime.

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GAME STORY: Denton Ryan ends Cooper’s season with 58-20 win

DENTON — The Cooper Cougars got off to about as strong a start as they could have hoped for Friday in their Region I-5A Division I semifinal matchup against Denton Ryan. But once the Raiders got going, they never let up in a 58-20 win on a mist-soaked field at C.H. Collins Athletic Complex.

After intercepting Ryan quarterback Seth Henigan on the second play of the game and scoring on a 24-yard run by Noah Garcia to go up 7-0, Cooper surrendered 44 unanswered points — 30 of those before halftime — to close their season at 11-2.

The game was tied at 7-all at the end of the first quarter, but a 23-0 Raider run through the second quarter put the Coogs in a hole they couldn’t dig out of.

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BCP Podcast No. 72: Hawley’s Mitch Ables talks Bearcats football with Evan, Daniel

During his time at Hawley, Mitch Ables has steadily built the long-suffering Bearcat football program into an area contender. This year, he has the ‘Cats on their deepest run ever after the first area-round playoff victory in program history over defending state runner-up New Deal last Friday.

Earlier this week, Ables took some time to chat with Big Country Preps’ Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood about this year’s team, which is unbeaten heading into Friday’s Region I-2A Division I semifinal matchup against Sundown (8-4), for the Capital Farm Credit Wednesday Night Podcast.

Also in this episode Evan and Daniel discuss their takeaways from the second round of the high school football playoffs and preview this week’s third round.

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! 

BCP PODCAST ARCHIVE 

BIG COUNTRY PREPS FACEBOOK PAGE 

BIG COUNTRY PREPS TWITTER PAGE 

LOCAL HOOPS ROUNDUP: Cougars rally but fall short, Eagles can’t sustain fast start

Trailing Lubbock Cooper 41-29 after three quarters, the Abilene Cooper boys basketball team rallied in the fourth to make a game of it. But a barrage of late 3-pointers wasn’t quite enough in a 56-54 loss Tuesday at Cougar Gym. 

Kaden Davis banked in a 3 with just a couple of seconds left to trim the deficit to two. But with no timeouts remaining, the Cougars were helpless to stop the clock, allowing the Pirates to win without inbounding the ball.

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GAME STORY: Roberts late bucket lifts Wylie girls over Jim Ned 42-41

Leading 31-21 entering the fourth quarter and 40-33 with 2½ minutes left to play, the Wylie Lady Bulldogs seemed to have firm control of their nondistrict game against area rival Jim Ned on Tuesday at Bulldog Gym. But a furious rally by the Lady Indians left them needing a bucket in the final seconds to avoid a heartbreaking loss.

Enter senior post Bailey Roberts.

With her trailing 41-40 after an 11-0 Jim Ned run, Roberts took the ball in the post, calmly split a double team and finished strong at the rim for her 13th and 14th points of the game. That bucket, which left the Lady Indians just four seconds to answer, proved to be the game-winning shot in a thrilling 42-41 victory as Brooke Galvin’s desperation heave at the buzzer bounced off the back rim and out.

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LOCAL HOOPS ROUNDUP: Wylie girls take care of Weatherford, AHS boys rally for win

The Wylie girls basketball team followed a third-place finish at the Polk-Key City Classic over the weekend with a solid win over Class 6A Weatherford on Monday, using a big second quarter to build a lead and a strong fourth period to pull away for a 48-37 victory.

Leading 8-7 after eight minutes, the Lady Bulldogs outpaced the Lady Kangaroos 15-9 over the second quarter to take a 23-16 lead into the halftime break. Weatherford (4-3) trimmed the deficit to six heading into the final quarter, but coach Amy Powell’s squad closed the game on a 17-12 run to improve to 7-5 on the year.

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GAME STORY: Cooper blows out Abilene High to snap crosstown losing streak

Heading into Monday night’s crosstown matchup, no Cooper player had ever won a varsity girls basketball game against Abilene High. But all it takes is one victory to reverse a trend like that, and the Lady Cougars picked up a dominating one in front of an enthusiastic crowd at Cougar Gym.

Leading 16-8 after a quarter, CHS added 18 more points to its advantage over the middle two periods before cruising to an impressive 62-37 win over the Lady Eagles. 

The victory, which snapped a four-game losing streak in the crosstown series, was the Lady Coogs’ first over AHS since December 2015. It avenged a pair of losses to the Lady Eagles last season, the first by a near identical score (61-38) at the same site just a little more than a year ago.

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FEATURE: Polk-Key City Classic offers reunion for former Wylie coach Danley, star Little

If not for his shaved head, Tri Danley might have a few gray hairs he could attribute to Peyton Little.

But whatever grief the former Wylie star gave him during his four-year stretch as the Lady Bulldogs girls basketball coach is outweighed in spades by the positives she brought both to her team and Danley personally during her storied four-year career. In fact, he credits Little and the two state championships she helped him win for his subsequent opportunities as a coach.

Danley, in his first season at Seminole after a seven-year stint at Mont Belvieu Barbers Hill, got to catch up with Little and former teammate Megan Rausch, who both serve as assistants to Amy Powell at Wylie, over the weekend at the Polk-Key City Classic girls basketball tournament in Abilene. And though it’s been many years now since Danley and Little teamed up to lead the Lady Bulldogs to their most successful run in program history, he and his former players had plenty of shared memories to reminisce about. 

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GAME STORY: Jim Ned rallies past Bishop Lynch for PKC title, Wylie finishes third

Trailing Dallas Bishop Lynch 24-17 at the end of three quarters Saturday at Hardin-Simmons University’s Mabee Complex, the Jim Ned Lady Indians needed a spark to keep the Friars from claiming their second Polk-Key City Classic title in as many years.

And as so many Jim Ned teams have done in the past, they found it on the defensive end of the floor.

Stifling Bishop Lynch’s halfcourt sets with their effort and aggression, the Lady Indians turned several steals into a game-tying  7-0 run and they outlasted the Friars from there for a hard-fought 28-26 win.

The victory capped a strong day for local and area teams as Wylie topped Seminole 49-35 in the third-place game, Cooper claimed fifth place with a 45-35 win over Burleson and Abilene High narrowly missed a win in the consolation championship, falling 48-45 to Lubbock Coronado.

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GAME STORY: Garcia, Cooper gut out 35-28 win over Azle to advance to third round

STEPHENVILLE — The Cooper football team had its fortitude checked on one occasion after another in its area-round clash with Azle on Friday at Tarleton Memorial Stadium. Each time, the Cougars proved up to the challenge.

After seeing the Hornets rally from a 28-7 halftime deficit to pull within a touchdown in the third quarter, coach Aaron Roan’s squad stood tall in the fourth to secure a hard-fought 35-28 victory and advance to the Region I-5A Division I semifinals, where they’ll take on the winner of Saturday’s game between Denton Ryan and Lubbock Coronado.

Fueled on offense by Noah Garcia, who overcame an asthma attack to deliver a legendary performance, the Coogs still needed eight turnovers on defense to hold off an inspired Azle comeback. But coach Aaron Roan’s squad forced every one of those, bringing a physicality to the table that the Hornets struggled to match early in the contest.

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