Category: Six-man

GAME STORY: Minton’s slam fuels Hermleigh past Eula, into Class 1A state tournament

Stepping to the plate in the top of the fourth with the bases loaded and her team leading Eula 4-1 in Game 2 of the Region I-2A championship series on Saturday, Hermleigh first baseman Hailey Minton knew she had a chance to do something special.

She’d been struggling in the postseason leading up to that at-bat, but a two-out hit would provide some much-needed cushion for pitcher Summer Smith and the rest of her teammates, who were trying to close out the Lady Pirates and earn their program’s second state tournament appearance.

As it turned out, she delivered in the biggest way possible, smoking a 3-2 pitch well over the fence in right field for a grand slam that put the Lady Cardinals up 8-1 and set the stage for a 13-6 win at Cooper High School’s Cougar Diamond.

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GAME STORY: Hermleigh’s dream season ends in regional finals

SNYDER — While trophies with golden basketballs on top of them are nice, the Hermleigh boys basketball team set a goal this year of a different trophy.

They wanted an “ugly brown trophy” instead.

While it’s not the state championship trophy, the Cardinals accomplished their goal despite seeing their season come to an end at the Western Texas College Coliseum with a 68-37 loss to No. 9 Irion County in the Region II-2A final on Saturday afternoon.

The UIL gives out trophies with plaques emblazoned with the organization’s logo and the team’s finish in the regional tournament to the finalists.

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GAME STORY: Hermleigh boys too much for No. 16 Water Valley, on to II-1A title game

SNYDER — Playing in its first region tournament in program history, the Hermleigh Cardinals looked like a team well accustomed to deep playoff runs Friday in its Region II-1A semifinal matchup with No. 16 Water Valley.

Coach Sammy Winters’ squad, which finished the regular season unranked in the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches Class 1A poll, scored the game’s first eight points and never trailed after in cruising to a 45-32 win over the Wildcats at the Western Texas College Coliseum.

The Cardinals, now 28-8 on the year, led by as many as 20 points in the fourth quarter before holding off a late Water Valley run to extend their dream season into the II-1A championship game, where they’ll will face No. 9 Irion County (32-3) on Saturday with a state tournament berth on the line.

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GAME STORY: Hermleigh boys survive Eula rally, advance to first region tournament

The Hermleigh boys basketball team gutted out a 49-44 win over area power Eula on Tuesday to claim its first-ever trip to the regional tournament. 

After controlling the first half at McMurry’s Kimbrel Arena, the Cardinals found themselves down six early in the second when the Pirates opened the third quarter on a 16-3 run. But coach Sam Winters’ squad calmly regrouped and outscored Eula 22-11 the rest of of the way to earn a region semifinals date with No. 16 Water Valley on Friday at Snyder’s WTC Coliseum. 

Locked in a tie game at 36-all with seven minutes remaining, Hermleigh finished off the Pirates with a 13-8 run to get past the defending state runner-up.

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GAME STORY: No. 4 Robert Lee runs away from Santa Anna to kick off playoff run

WINTERS — It took fourth-ranked Robert Lee Lady Steers a few minutes to get going in their playoff opener Tuesday against Santa Anna. But once they did, the points piled up in a hurry.

Leading just 6-4 midway through the first quarter, the District 11-1A champions closed the first half on a 34-4 run and cruised from there to a 68-22 win at Blizzard Gym. 

The victory improved Robert Lee to 29-2 on the season and set up a playoff rematch with Rankin, which ended the Lady Steers’ season a year ago.

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GAME STORY: Westbrook girls survive Cross Plains upset bid

MERKEL — The Westbrook girls basketball team learned an important lesson Tuesday night at Badger Gymnasium: a return trip to the UIL state tournament is not going to be easy.

The Lady Cats had to fight and claw their way to a 37-30 win over Cross Plains in a Region II-1A bi-district playoff to start the defense of their region title.

Westbrook coach Jeff Bontranger was proud of the way his team battled in a game that was tightly contested on defense.

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GAME STORY: Quick start lifts Eula past Ira in bi-district playoff

MERKEL — Nyellie Lee scored a game-high 19 points and the Eula girls basketball team held Ira scoreless in the first quarter in a 64-26 win in a Region II-1A bi-district game Tuesday night at Badger Gymnasium.

The win came on coach Josh Fostel’s 44th birthday, marking the second day in a row an area coach earned a playoff win on his birthday in Merkel.

Eula led 18-0 after the opening quarter and scored the first 21 points of the game in rolling to the easy win.

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GAME STORY: Munday girls take care of Rotan, claim first playoff win since 2012

HAMLIN — Later this week, the Munday girls basketball team will compete in the area round of the playoffs for the fifth time since 2015. But this trip will taste just a little bit sweeter for the Mogulettes, who defeated Rotan 37-25 in the bi-district round Monday to secure their first playoff win since 2012.

MHS, which drew byes through the first round in each of its last four trips to the area round, including in 2020 and 2021, will reach that point having already tasted postseason victory this year.

And first-year Munday coach Brad Johnson expects that to be a confidence booster heading into the next game against the winner of Tuesday’s matchup between Eula and Ira.

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GAME STORY: Dominant third quarter lifts Highland past May

MERKEL — The Highland girls basketball team had a simple directive from coach Kyle Johnson for its Region II-1A bi-district game against May on Monday at Merkel’s Badger Gymnasium.

Win.

The Lady Hornets listened and, after a sluggish start, dominated the Lady Tigers for a 42-18 win on Johnson’s 45th birthday.

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GAME STORY: Hermleigh girls open playoffs with emphatic win

MERKEL — The Hermleigh girls basketball team has been a perennial contender for the state tournament in Duane Hopper’s first four years at the program’s helm.

Monday night, the Lady Cardinals started their run towards a third tournament berth in Hopper’s fifth year with a 75-18 win over Baird at Merkel’s Badger Gymnasium.

During Hopper’s tenure, the Lady Cardinals have lost to Nazareth in the state semifinals twice and had two more appearances in the regional final.

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FCA ALL-STAR FESTIVAL: Players excited to see assistant coaches get their chance to shine

With the Big Country Chevy Dealers Fellowship of Christian Athletes All-Star Festival entering its 23rd year, event organizers are faced with the unique dilemma of needing new coaches.

The FCA staffs in Abilene, Brownwood and San Angelo have found a creative solution for this year’s festival, which is scheduled for June 2-11: to give area assistant coaches their moment in the spotlight.

This provides a neat opportunity for both the coaches and their players, who are excited to see their assistant coaches have a chance to lead a squad.

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CAPITAL FARM CREDIT/BCP PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Merkel senior takes this week’s award

 

When selecting our Capital Farm Credit/BCP Player of the Week, it’s not entirely about numbers, though that’s certainly a part of it. The quality of the competition counts, as does the importance of the game itself.

And when factoring in all of the above, nobody had a better overall week than Merkel senior Alyssa O’Malley, who has been among the area’s most consistent performers all season. 

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CAPITAL FARM CREDIT/BCP PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Strawn’s Rigdon nabs honor with 54-point effort

More often than not, our Capital Farm Credit/BCP Player of the Week has led a winning effort of some sort. But we do make exceptions, and this week’s accolade is an example of that. 

In last week’s 69-68 loss to Huckabay, Strawn freshman (yes, freshman) Grayson “Chaka” Rigdon put forth an absolutely show-stopping performance, dropping 54 points on HHS to go with 14 rebounds, two assists and three steals. This came on the heels of a 24-point, 10-rebound night he had in a 64-41 loss to Lingleville. 

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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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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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GAME STORY: No. 1 May survives Abbott in state semifinal thriller

DUBLIN — After falling short of a championship with a 68-22 loss to Sterling City in the 2020 state title game, the May Tigers spent this year looking for redemption.

The road to a return trip to AT&T Stadium in Arlington wasn’t a cakewalk for the top-ranked Tigers, who saw playoff games against No. 2 Jonesboro and No. 4 Water Valley leading into their Class 1A Division I state semifinal matchup with third-ranked Abbott.

Having not been involved in a close game, May needed a fourth-down touchdown run from Avery Williford late in the fourth quarter to retake the lead for good as the Tigers edged the Panthers in a 50-48 thriller Saturday at Bob and Norma Cervetto Field.

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BCP Week 15 Playoff Forecast: Big Ev picks 92 percent over Thanksgiving. Can he keep it going?

LAST WEEK: 12-1, .923
SEASON TOTAL: 499-106, .825

Alright, we’re getting down to the nitty gritty — football in December with seven Big Country teams still fighting for a trip to Arlington. If I’m correct, we’ll have quite a few area survivors to congratulate by Sunday.

The column connected on 92 percent of its picks last week, so we’ll see if I can keep the hot streak going.

Here’s this week’s forecast: 

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EVAN REN’S WEEK 14 PLAYOFF FORECAST: 16 area teams still battling for regional titles

LAST WEEK: 17-4, .809
SEASON TOTAL: 487-105, .823

Some areas have quantity. Others have quality. The Big Country has both — at least, this year it does. 

Entering Week 14 there are no fewer than 16 area teams with a shot at reaching December. And with six of them paired off against each other, the Big Country is guaranteed to have at least three survivors a week from now. 

I have a strong feeling we’re going to see more area survivors than that. But we will have some casualties this time around. There’s no avoiding it with the level of competition our teams are facing. 

With 11-man teams reaching the regional semifinal round and six-man teams playing for regional titles, there are nothing but monsters remaining to block the path to Arlington. 

Who will make it through? 

Here’s this week’s forecast: 

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CAPITAL FARM CREDIT/BCP PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Dublin’s Teten earns honor with historic effort

With a huge passing game in Dublin’s 41-35 area-round win over Palmer, junior Chris Teten put up numbers worthy of our Capital Farm Credit/Big Country Preps Player of the Week award.

But it’s only once you grasp the historical significance of the Lions’ win over the Bulldogs on Friday that you gain a full appreciation for the junior’s performance.

In hitting 19 of 26 passes for 406 yards and six touchdowns — all of which were needed to escape Joshua’s Owl Stadium with a victory — Teten was objectively excellent behind center for the Lions. Now for the kicker: the win over Palmer marked the first area-round victory in the history of the Dublin program, which is significant considering the school has been playing football for more than a century.

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FEATURE: Youthful Jaybirds reach regional semis, give Stanaland a shot at career win No. 100

JAYTON — The key question for the Jayton Jaybirds heading into the 2021 season wasn’t if they would be good. The question was, how  good?

The ‘Birds afterall, have grown accustomed to success under coach Josh Stanaland, who has posted a 99-48 mark in 12 seasons at JHS, including a 60-14 mark since 2016.

But 2021 was to bring some special challenges. To begin with, no fewer than four standout players — Pecos Smith, Tripp Scott, Caleb Valerio, Mason Long and Devon Jones — had been handed their diplomas.  Secondly, the 2021 ‘Birds would carry only four seniors on their roster, with no more than two being on the field at the same time, offensively or defensively. 

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BCP Boys Basketball Position Rankings: Guards

With boys basketball season beginning this week, it’s time to shine a spotlight on some of the players you’ll be reading about throughout the 2021-22 season.

For the first installment in a three-part series that will cover all positions on the area boys basketball scene, we’ll be taking a look at the Big Country’s top guards, ranking our top 10 with a list of others to watch this winter.

We hope you enjoy reading through our list.

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CAPITAL FARM CREDIT/BCP PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Roscoe’s Watts claims this week’s award

Nobody ever truly obtains perfection on the football field. And even if you believe you’ve achieved it, any competent coach can quickly scan the game film and point out when and where you could have been better along the way. 

Roscoe sophomore Jax Watts, however, came about as close as one can come to that lofty goal in Friday’s 61-0 win over Hamlin. 

To begin with, our Capital Farm Credit/Big Country Preps Player of the Week hit 17 of 18 passes for 436 yards and six touchdowns as the Plowboys (9-1) closed the season with a nine-game winning streak and district title. 

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FEATURE: Hermleigh adjusts to changes, posts 10-0 regular-season record

Photos by Sasha Duck, Hermleigh school photographer

Sam Winters is in the first season of his second stint as Hermleigh’s head coach.

The Hermleigh Cardinals completed a 10-0 regular season Oct. 29 by beating preseason favorite Ira 66-48 for the District 7-1A Division I football championship. With a bye Nov. 5, the Cardinals could sit back and soak up the spoils of victory.

Or maybe not.

“It was like ‘Congratulations, you’re the district champions. As a reward, you get to play the state champions in bidistrict,’ ” Hermleigh head coach Sam Winters said.

Sterling City won the Class 1A Division I state championship last year. But the Eagles were upset by Westbrook this year and finished second in District 8-1A DI, creating the bidistrict matchup with Hermleigh. It’s a rematch of last year’s bidistrict game won 61-12 by Sterling City.

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CAPITAL FARM CREDIT/BCP PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Brock QB Moody takes this week’s accolade

I suppose we should have seen Brock’s 80-7 rout of archrival Peaster coming last Friday. 

The Eagles have been getting better and more explosive by the week as they adjust to first-year coach Billy Mathis’ offensive scheme, and quarterback Tyler Moody has only gotten more efficient along the way.

Our Capital Farm Credit/Big Country Preps Player of the Week was nearly perfect against Peaster, hitting 11 of 12 throws for 239 yards and five scores. He also rushed five times for 54 yards and an additional touchdown, giving him a direct hand in seven TDs.

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FEATURE: Hoops-crazy Lingleville enjoying fine football season

Photo by Keith Philips

Now is usually about the time Lingleville is counting down the days until basketball season.  

The Cardinals have had only two winning seasons since football returned in 2010, and expectations for this fall weren’t sky high after last year’s 1-9 record.  

But football is all the buzz these days in western Erath County as Lingleville (6-1) has been one of the Big Country’s biggest surprises. Coach Ken Davis and the Cardinals have won six straight games heading into Friday’s critical District 13-A Division I matchup against Baird.  

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FEATURE: Resurgent Baird Bears seeking to continue climb in Schlieve’s second season

Photos by Sarah Schlieve

Baird has experienced growth in Derek Schlieve’s second season running the football program.

The Bears got off to their best start in a couple decades, winning their first five games and handing Gordon its only loss of the season.

Even though their momentum was slightly dashed after Friday’s 78-30 loss to Fort Worth Covenant Classical, Schlieve is insistent his guys are remembering the big picture.

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FEATURE: Close-knit Benjamin volleyball team outperforming expectations despite youth

Photos by Brittany Lowe 

The Benjamin volleyball team’s theme this season is “Believe in We.”  

It’s a three-word motto the Lady Mustangs have taken to heart during a successful 2021 campaign despite depending on a heavy dose of underclassmen.  

That belief in each other has forged a dynamic team chemistry that is one of the reasons Benjamin is ranked No. 18 in the state at the Class 2A/1A level.  

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