Category: Boys basketball

EVAN REN: We can all use some good news and football can provide some of it

In a world that has seemingly gone mad, I’ll take any dose of good news that I can find — even if it’s mundane.

The stock market inched up a half point? I’ll take it. We can go back to worrying about COVID-19? I’m all-in. The buildings in Abilene are still standing? That’s a check mark in the plus column. 

So how do we get there? 

How do we reestablish normality? 

Aside from the obvious fact that we need to stop the ongoing mayhem that is plaguing our society, getting back to common things we all hold dear will set the foundation for healing. And I’m talking about the simplest of pleasures, from peaceful walks in the park, shopping in a mall, going to the movies or attending a sporting event. 

In Texas, the latter cannot be overstated, especially when it comes to football. 

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EVAN REN: 10 things I’ll take away from the COVID-19 pandemic

I’ve always held to a personal axiom that perspective is everything. True or not, how we view a situation becomes the truth in our minds.
There’s no escaping it and every one of us has our own perspective

Well, the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown have changed my perspective in several ways on several different things. And for a middle-aged guy who is pretty well set in my ways, this is like the planets aligning.

I’ve managed to list my top 10 takeaways from lockdown, as they pertain to this website and what we’re trying to accomplish here.

Let’s dive in: 

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: COVID-19 the only thing that stopped Dillos’ unlikely hoops run

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

Alamodome Shoot-Around photo courtesy of San Saba ISD 

The San Saba Armadillos’ run to the UIL Class 2A Boys Basketball State Tournament was so unlikely, even their coach didn’t imagine it.

“I thought we had enough athleticism and skill to get to the regional tournament,” second-year Armadillos coach Mark Kyle said. “Once you get to regional, anything’s possible. But I never thought about us going to state.”

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Stamford’s Price missed his chance at attendance perfection

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

Those who follow Big Country high school athletics are likely familiar with the name of Trace Price — first as a Baird High School multi-sport standout. Then, as a starting quarterback and All-Big Country Preps basketball player as a senior at Stamford this school year. 

They will soon know him as a tight end on the Abilene Christian University football team when he suits up for the Wildcats this fall. 

Behind the scenes, however, Price was quietly on course to do something remarkable when the COVID-19 lockdown was implemented in March by the UIL. From pre-kindergarten to the point of the lockdown, he had never missed a single day of school — not one. 

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EVAN REN: Virus may teach us some appreciation (for a while)

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing: It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.”
— Voltaire 

There’s a barbeque place near my home that I don’t like. In fact, I seldom go there — deliberately bypassing it whenever the BBQ craving hits me in favor of better choices. 

But Friday, after two months of COVID-19 exile, I decided to make a quick run to bring home some brisket for the wife and I and elected to go to the very place I try to avoid because it was convenient. 

Funny how one’s perspective can change while in isolation.

Abilene’s worst barbeque was suddenly good. In fact, it was beyond good. It was like freakin’ nirvana. 

I suspect that’s the way it’s going to be with virtually everything I had taken for granted before the lockdown. And I’m already experiencing some of it.

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Price forced to put football and promising spring on back burner

The “What Might Have Been” feature series is Big Country Preps’ effort to celebrate area athletes who have seen their seasons affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. The series will continue through June 15. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

For much of his career, 39-year-old Daniel Price had been patiently waiting to get his shot. 

He had long wished to be the man on the headset, manning the sidelines in crucial situations and leading a football program of his very own.

In February, he was given that opportunity when Early ISD named him to replace athletic director and head football coach Blake Sandford, who resigned in December.

All the pieces were in place. All that was needed was to develop a plan and implement it.

Then it happened — a statewide lockdown of all high school spring sports implemented in by the University Interscholastic League in March as a safety measure against the COVID-19 outbreak. 

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BREAKING: 2020 FCA All-Star Festival canceled

The Big Country chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes made the decision on Thursday morning to officially cancel its 2020 All-Star Festival in light of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is with heavy disappointment due to continued risks and uncertainties associated with the widespread Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic that the Big Country Fellowship of Christian Athletes staff has made the difficult decision to cancel the Big Country Chevy Dealers 21st annual FCA All-Star Festival scheduled for the week of June 7-13, 2020,” the organization said in a press release.

There was brief talk of postponing to a later date, but ultimately the organization decided that cancellation was best in the current climate, said FCA Area Director Andy Penney.

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

Here are our first-team selections for the 2020 All-Big Country Preps boys 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 Boys Basketball Team: Second-Team Roster

Here are our second-team selections for the 2020 All-Big Country Preps boys 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 Boys Basketball Team: Third-Team Roster (w/ honorable mention)

Here are our third-team selections for the 2020 All-Big Country Preps boys 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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FEATURE: San Saba boys basketball in state limbo amid COVID-19 crisis

Making its first state tournament appearance since 1928, the San Saba boys basketball team was hoping to make a little history this weekend in San Antonio.

This wasn’t the kind of history the Armadillos had in mind.

Coach Mark Kyle’s squad was one of 16 teams across four of Texas’ six public school classifications to have its state semifinal game suspended by the University Scholastic League on Thursday as a result of growing concern over the global COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

So instead of hitting the Alamodome court on Friday against top-ranked and undefeated Martin’s Mill, the Dillos were hitting the road back home, uncertain if they’d ever get to punctuate one of the greatest seasons in program history.

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STATE RECAP: Jayton boys fall to Slidell in 1A semis; competition suspended over coronavirus concerns

SAN ANTONIO — Jayton’s season didn’t end the way the No. 8 Jaybirds wanted it to Thursday morning, but at least the JHS boys basketball team got to take the court at the Alamodome.

Coach Ryan Bleiker’s squad fell 45-28 to No. 5 Slidell in the second of two Class 1A state semifinal games — one of just four contests completed before the University Interscholastic League suspended action on the 2020 boys basketball state tournament as a response to concern over the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic.

That means that San Saba’s Class 2A semifinal against top-ranked Martin’s Mill, originally slated for 8:30 a.m. Friday, will not be played as scheduled, if completed at all.

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BCP Podcast No. 85: Jayton’s Bleiker, San Saba’s Kyle talk state hoops with Evan, Daniel

Jayton boys basketball coach Ryan Bleiker has led the Jaybirds to their second state tournament appearance in as many years. San Saba’s Mark Kyle has led the Armadillos to their first state trip since 1928.

Earlier this week, both men took a few minutes to chat with Big Country Preps’ Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood about the challenge their teams face for this week’s Capital Farm Credit Wednesday Night Podcast.

Also in this episode, Evan and Daniel recap last week’s boys basketball regionals.

BOYS BASKETBALL STATE PREVIEW: San Saba looks to continue dream season against unbeaten Martin’s Mill

It’s been 92 years since San Saba last played in a boys basketball state tournament, and few expected coach Mark Kyle’s Armadillos to do so this year.

But after completing a remarkable and unexpected run through Region IV-2A, the Dillos are hoping to add a few more memories to what’s already been an unforgettable campaign.

Standing between them and a potential state championship is a semifinal matchup with undefeated Martin’s Mill (39-0) at 8:30 a.m. Friday at the Alamodome in San Antonio. And though they enter that game as heavy underdogs, the San Saba boys are excited for yet another opportunity to prove people wrong.

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BOYS BASKETBALL STATE PREVIEW: No. 8 Jayton prepped for state rematch with defending champ Slidell

After making their first state tournament appearance last March and coming within a single win of their first state title, the Jayton Jaybirds will have a chance to finish the job this year.

But fresh off a grueling run through the Region II-1A bracket, JHS will face another stiff test in their 2020 state opener. Standing between the No. 8 Jaybirds and the Class 1A crown is a semifinal matchup with the defending state champion and fifth-ranked Slidell Greyhounds — a team with which coach Ryan Bleiker and his players are quite familiar.

It was Slidell that ended Jayton’s championship hopes last year, defeating the Jaybirds 49-36 in the 2019 title game. Bleiker and Co. are intent on reversing that outcome when the teams meet at 10 a.m. Thursday at the Alamodome in San Antonio, but the coach knows that won’t be easy.

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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 RECAP: San Saba tops Normangee, earns first trip to state tournament

SAN MARCOS — The San Saba Armadillos are headed to the state tournament in boys basketball for the first time in school history.

Less than 24 hours after getting a late steal and bucket to pull off a 55-54 win over Weimar in the Region IV-2A semifinals, the Armadillos downed Normangee 49-35 to claim their first region title and earn a trip to San Antonio next week for the Class 2A state tournament.

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2019-20 Jayton boys

GAME STORY: Scogin’s surge lifts Jayton over Irion County, into II-1A final

In 2019, a driving layup at the buzzer by Tye Scogin sent the Jayton boys basketball team to the Class 1A state championship at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

Friday night, with the Jaybirds locked in a nail-biter with Irion County at McMurry’s Kimbrell Arena, the senior took over the final 10 minutes and led eighth-ranked Jayton to a 43-31 win in a Region II-1A semifinal.

The Jaybirds will face seventh-ranked Paducah on Saturday afternoon with another state tournament berth on the line.

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GAME RECAP: Martinez’s late heroics fuel San Saba past Weimar, into IV-2A final

SAN MARCOS — Trailing 54-53 with four seconds remaining Friday, it appeared the San Saba boys basketball team would see its season end with a heartbreaking loss to Weimar in the Region IV-2A semfinals.

Abel Martinez had different ideas.

The senior forward stole the ball and hit a layup with 1.2 seconds remaining to lift San Saba to a thrilling 55-54 win over the Wildcats and earn the Armadillos a spot in Saturday’s IV-2A championship game against Normangee (29-5).

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GAME STORY: No. 5 Slidell too much for Eula boys in Region III-1A semifinals

MANSFIELD — Eula boys basketball coach Josh Fostel knew a fast start would be key if his team was going to have any hope of knocking off the defending state champion Slidell Greyhounds in Friday’s Region III-1A semifinal at Mansfield Legacy High School.

Unfortunately for the Pirates, what they got was the opposite.

Falling behind 16-1 after a quarter, ninth-ranked Eula was never able to recover in a 58-33 loss to No. 5 Slidell, falling to the Greyhounds in the same round for the second consecutive season. 

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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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