Author: Evan Ren

Evan Ren’s 2020 Gym Rat Team: The hardest workers in the Big Country

Scoring and rebounding is only part of the story when it comes to basketball. Behind the scenes and beyond the view of the public, is where character is often measured. And it is with our Big Country Preps Gym Rat Team that we salute the individuals who exude the most of it. 

This team isn’t about who the best players are, though some of the area’s top players are on this list. 

The Gym Rat team is about effort, discipline, toughness, coachability and selflessness — traits that coaches love above all else and that championship foundations are built upon.

It is for that reason that our Gym Rat team is selected entirely by area coaches, described in their own words. And Big Country Preps is absolutely honored to present these individuals to you — the best “team players” (boys and girls) that the area had to offer during the 2019-20 season.

Players are listed in no particular order. 

Enjoy.

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All Big Country Preps Girls Basketball Superlatives: Galvin sisters, Gonzales take top spots

Here are our superlative award winners for the 2020 All-Big Country Preps girls basketball team. For the rest of this year’s selections, click the links below.

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2020 All-Big Country Preps Girls Basketball Team: First-Team Roster

Here are our third-team selections for the 2020 All-Big Country Preps girls basketball team. For the rest of this year’s boys and girls basketball selections, click the links below.

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2020 All Big Country Preps Girls Basketball Team: Second team starters and reserves

Here are our third-team selections for the 2020 All-Big Country Preps girls basketball team. For the rest of this year’s boys and girls basketball selections, click the links below.

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2020 All-Big Country Preps Girls Basketball Team: Third-Team Roster (w/ honorable mention)

Here are our third-team selections for the 2020 All-Big Country Preps girls basketball team. For the rest of this year’s boys and girls basketball selections, click the links below.

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TGCA, TABC All-State teams released with multiple Big Country players honored

A strong contingent of 16 area players were named to their respective all-state teams by the Texas Girls Coaches Association as well on Monday, spearheaded by Abilene High’s Trakenya Roberson in Class 6A. A further 12 (six boys and six girls) were given all-state honors by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches. 

The TGCA named Brownwood’s Matyha Thompson to the Class 4A team. Jim Ned’s Brooke Galvin and Alexis Espinosa, Brock’s Olivia Lewis and Torrye Tyler, and Cisco’s Landri Edgar earned roster spots in Class 3A. 

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EVAN REN: Big Country baseball, softball hit hard during corona outbreak

Come springtime, I’ve always been a big baseball and softball guy, which makes my current life in exile all the more difficult. 

With the entire country on a virtual lockdown and me stuck in my office until further notice, I can’t help but be torn between doing what’s right and thinking about what has been lost. 

Globally, very few will escape the coronavirus outbreak without being affected in some way, shape or form. But on a personal level, it means contemplating the loss of one great season after another. Barring a sudden turnaround, hundreds of irreplaceable memories that could have been, will simply never materialize.

So, am I of the opinion that the rest of the athletic competition for this school year will be lost?

SIGH … I hope I’m wrong. But yes, I believe it’s over.

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EVAN REN: Sometimes a tough experience can have some value

I’ve never been very good at appreciating the little things. You know, like being able to feed myself, shower, go to the bathroom or get out of bed without assistance.

They didn’t even register on my radar.

They were like “automatics” — things that were so routine and so mundane that they didn’t warrant any thought. 

That is, until I needed help doing them. 

In case you haven’t heard, I’m coming off a tough experience — one that saw me hospitalized for eight days with pneumonia (not coronavirus). 

A sniffle brought home from Lubbock on March 7 had become a full-blown cold by March 8. A day later, I awoke, convinced I was drowning. By that afternoon, I was checked in to Hendricks Medical Center in Abilene, where I would remain, largely bedridden, for more than a week. 

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GAME STORY: Jaybirds punch second straight ticket to San Antonio with win over Paducah (two videos included)

Poise. Discipline. Defense. 

Coach Ryan Bleiker’s Jayton Jaybirds used that simple, three-part recipe to reach their second straight Class 1A state basketball tournament in San Antonio, with a 49-36 win over Paducah on Saturday at McMurry University. 

Tye Scogin scored 23 points and Tripp Scott and Pecos Smith added 10 each to pace Jayton (31-3), which now advances to the state equivalent to the Final Four. Scogin scored 21 of his 23 points at the free-throw line, burying all but one of his shots from the stripe. 

Paducah closed its season at 28-5, led by Mark Flemons with 16 points and Deftlon Flemons with seven. 

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GAME STORY: Brock’s season ends with loss to Shallowater in Lubbock

LUBBOCK — An uncharacteristic problem — turnovers — proved lethal for the Brock Eagles in their Region I-3A semifinal with Shallowater on Friday. 

Crippled by 21 giveaways, Brock fell 53-45 before a packed house at Lubbock Christian’s Rip Griffin Center. 

Led by 6-foot-8 post Jalen Brattain’s 21 points and nine points from Hunter Gossett, Shallowater (24-4) advances to face Peaster (33-5) in Saturday’s regional final at 1 p.m. 

Brayton Chitty scored 17 points and Nathan Jones added 10 more to lead Brock, which closed its season at 29-10.   

“They made us work the ball all game long,” Brock coach Zach Boxell said. “They did a good job of (blocking) the passing lanes and with their intensity and length, they caused problems for us during parts of the game for sure.” 

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BREAKING: Pearce named head football coach at Breckenridge

Casey Pearce, a 1993 Breckenridge alum, was named as the head football coach and athletic director at BHS during a school board meeting on Friday. 

Pearce, the long-time defensive coordinator at Longview, will replace former coach Casey Hubble, who resigned in February to take the coaching position at Canton. 

Pearce, who played football at Breckenridge under his father, Bill Pearce, has been a notable part of the success at Longview. 

During his tenure as defensive coordinator at LHS, the Loboes reached three state championsip games, including a Class 6A DII state title in 2018. 

BCP Podcast No. 84: Evan and Dan talk playoff basketball and go over the top softball teams in the area

In this week’s Capital Farm Credit Wednesday Night Podcast, Big Country Preps’ Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood reflect on last week’s girls basketball regional action and take a look at the boys regional tournaments that are set to get underway on Friday. 

They also take a quick look at some of the top softball teams in the area and how they have performed thus far.  

BOYS BASKETBALL PLAYOFF ROUNDUP: Eula, San Saba boys advance to region tournament

David Phillips scored 17 points and Dakota Boles added 12 more to lead Eula to a 46-41 win over Richland Springs in a Region III-1A quarterfinal on Tuesday in Coleman.  

Trailing 32-28 heading into the fourth quarter, the Pirates rallied with an 18-9 run through the final eight minutes to advance to the regional tournament. 

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GAME STORY: Jaybirds jump on nervous Westbrook, then hang on for regional berth

After making its deepest playoff run in decades, the Westbrook Wildcats were playing with house money entering Tuesday’s Region II-1A quarterfinal with perennial power Jayton. 

But that didn’t prevent a slight case of nerves in the opening minutes — a jittery start that eventually cost them in a 48-39 loss at Wylie High School.

Tye Scogin scored 13 points and Tripp Scott added 10 more to lead Jayton (27-3), which now advances to the regional semifinals for the fifth time in six seasons. 

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BIG COUNTRY PREPS PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Clyde’s Turner takes top spot with two perfectos

In a week that saw a ton of noteworthy performances, Clyde’s Kaitlyn Turner earned the top on our list. 

Aside from a sterling effort at the plate that saw the senior pitcher finish 9 of 15 with three home runs, nine RBIs and nine runs scored, she saved her top efforts for the circle.

There, she charted two perfect games, the first of which occurred in a 14-0 win over Lubbock High on Feb. 28. A day later, she delivered another in a 10-0 win over Brownwood. 

She struck out 23 batters in just 10 innings of work during the no-nos, both of which ended in the run rule. 

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GIRLS BASKETBALL REGIONAL ROUNDUP: Eula tops Saltillo, Gruver stops Stamford

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.

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GAME STORY: Jim Ned, Brock girls fall in regional (two box scores included)

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.

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FEATURE: Sophomore nucleus helps Haskell reach regional tournament

Landry Hanson (3)

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. 

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FEATURE: Jim Ned’s Galvin a key part of Lady Indians’ chances to reach San Antonio

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.

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BCP Podcast No. 83: Brock coach Shawna Lavender joins the show to talk hoops with Evan and Dan

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.  

 

GAME STORY: Haskell overcomes 20-plus turnovers to eliminate Christoval, advance to regional

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 

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GAME STORY: Eastland advances with 47-25 bi-district win over Anson

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.” 

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BIG COUNTRY PREPS PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Cisco’s Hearne has huge night in home finale

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.  

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EVAN REN: This week in Big Country girls basketball (Feb. 24-March 1)

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: 

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GAME STORY: Brock defense keys area round win over stubborn Eastland

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. 

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FEATURE: Brock’s Tyler a junior to be reckoned with

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. 

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BCP Podcast No. 82: Evan, Daniel talk girls and boys playoff basketball

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. 

GAME STORY: Haskell boys retire Tee Pee with a win … barely.

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. 

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GAME STORY: Lady Mavericks use defense to eliminate C-City, advance to area round

CLYDE— The most painful loss of the year is often the last one. And in Monday’s Class 3A bi-district matchup between Eastland and Colorado City, it was the C-City locker room that had a somber tone in the game’s aftermath. 

Backed by intense half-court defensive pressure that limited C-City standout Mia Monroe to just four points, the Lady Mavericks advanced with a 45-33 win at Clyde High School. 

Makena Moreno score 11 points and Jordan Mayes added eight more to lead Eastland (23-12), which held the Lady Wolves to just nine points after halftime. The Lady Mavericks now advance to face the winner of Tuesday’s bi-district matchup between Brock (27-7) and Holliday (18-13) in the area round. 

Colorado City (23-9) was led by Kaci Hudson with 12 points and Kirsten Koch with eight. 

“We started off playing a little zone and then we started playing some man (to man),” Eastland coach Troy Doyle said. “In the second half, we ran a little half-court trap and that gave them some problems.” 

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BIG COUNTRY PREPS PLAYER OF THE WEEK Brownwood’s McCarty earns this week’s top spot

He might be better known as a football player. 

But Baylor-bound defensive back Adonis McCarty Jr. is more than capable of lighting things up on the hardcourt as well. Just ask Glen Rose and Mineral Wells, both of which were torched by the BHS senior last week. 

Averaging 25.5 points and 7.5 rebounds through two games, McCarty helped Brownwood clinch the district title with a 33-point, eight-rebound, five-assist performance in a 71-67 win over Glen Rose. 

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EVAN REN: This week in Big Country girls basketball (Feb. 17-23)

The first round of the playoffs are here, with a slate of 14 area games on Monday night and 15 on Tuesday. 

By Friday the field will be cut in half throughout most brackets and by this time next week, we’ll be looking at regional quarterfinal matchups to determine who’s going to the regional tournaments. 

Let’s take a quick peek at the headliners.  

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FEATURE: Coahoma’s Caitlyn Corley works her way to collegiate ranks while helping CHS to playoffs

Photos courtesy of Lyndal Moody

COAHOMA — Now in her senior year at Coahoma, Caitlyn Corley is one of the most unlikely stories in the Big Country for 2020. 

While gradually working her way to a position of prominence from her freshmen year to today in a struggling basketball program, Corley had two big goals to reach before someone handed her a diploma. First, she wanted to help Coahoma snap a playoff drought that dated back to 2016. Secondly, she wanted a collegiate program to take notice of her and allow her to play at the next level. 

Both missions have been accomplished. 

Not only is Coahoma (21-10) set to play Cisco (26-6) in a Class 3A bi-district matchup on Monday, but Corley has also been spotted on the collegiate radar screen. Having officially committed to Sul Ross State, the 18-year-old will join the SRSU basketball program later this year. 

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