Category: Wylie Bulldogs

BCP Podcast No. 100: Evan, Daniel discuss Dave Campbell’s Texas Football (Part 2)

Like most followers of Texas high school football, Big Country Preps’ Evan Ren and Daniel Youngblood are big fans of Dave Campbell’s Texas Football magazine.

After using this week’s Capital Farm Credit Wednesday Night Podcast to discuss the publication’s projections on the area’s Class 1A-3A teams, Evan and Daniel discuss Texas Football’s forecast for the Big Country’s Big Schools in this week’s podcast.

FEATURE: Local coaches relish getting back with student-athletes

“It won’t be totally normal but we can get back to playing Friday night football, which is the goal. If we are playing Friday night football, all the other sports are going to be playing too. The main goal is to get to the fall.”

Those words came directly from the mouth of Abilene High football coach Mike Fullen on Monday afternoon after the Eagles wrapped up their first full day of strength and conditioning workouts earlier in the day following the state mandated shutdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“They’ve been playing, they’ve been swimming and they’ve been slamming up against each other, but we’ve got certain things that we have to adhere to,” Fullen said. “That’s their personal deal but if we don’t adhere (to guidelines), we could get shut down.”

The University Interscholastic League allowed schools to begin strength and conditioning workouts on June 8 and Wylie took full advantage of that opportunity. Meanwhile, Abilene High and Cooper each used two days last week as orientation to train student-athletes for how to enter campus.

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Young aces continue grind despite COVID-19 shutdown

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.

After flashing ace potential as freshmen in 2019, Jim Ned’s Tate Yardley, Anson’s Trevor Miller and Winters’ J.P. Killough had big things planned for their respective sophomore campaigns.

The three hurlers, part of a young crop of Big Country pitching standouts that also includes fellow sophomores Brooks Gay of Wylie and Snyder’s Derek Dominguez, were hoping to take the next step in their development and further cement their places among the area’s top arms.

Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent suspension/cancellation of all spring sport seasons by the University Interscholastic League limited their mound time to a handful of early-season outings. But it hasn’t kept them from continuing their pursuit of excellence.

All three have remained active in their training through the shutdown, viewing this period as little more as a speed bump on the way to their ever-increasing goals.

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EVAN REN: We’re pushing ahead at Big Country Preps — getting the the ball rolling

“A day of worry is more exhausting than a week of work.” — John Lubbock

My business partner, Daniel Youngblood, is the king of not worrying.

I’ve never seen anything like it.

If NASA were to announce that an asteroid impact was imminent in 15 minutes and that Abilene would be at ground zero, anything beyond a shrug of the shoulders from Youngblood would surprise me. Of course, I wouldn’t be there to see it. I’d be 25 miles down the road with the accelerator smashed to the floor, one hand on the steering wheel and a rabbit’s foot in the other.

The recent turmoil in the world has put both of our natures on display — him letting it all roll off his back and me, well … being me.

If fate allows it, a return to normalcy is the objective here and the sooner the better. As the designated worrier at Big Country Preps, I’ve been on pins and needles throughout the COVID-19 pandemic and the massive social unrest created by the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis. And let’s just call it what it was — a murder.

That said, I’m currently doing my best to steal a page from the Youngblood stress-free handbook and turning my attention from our tumultuous, viral-plagued world to something I can understand: football. That means that heading into the summer months, we’ll be diving headlong into our previews for the upcoming season.

Continue reading “EVAN REN: We’re pushing ahead at Big Country Preps — getting the the ball rolling”

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. 

Continue reading “EVAN REN: We can all use some good news and football can provide some of it”

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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EVAN REN: UIL announcement promising, but are we out of the woods just yet?

“Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive.”
— Elbert Hubbard

 In a Tweet released earlier today, the University Interscholastic League announced that it is actively working to allow schools to begin limited summer strength and conditioning and marching band activities on June 8. 

The mere sight of this announcement had me on the verge of challenging my 55-year-old frame to do a cartwheel for which it is ill-prepared to attempt. Because frankly, Texas without high school pigskin is like Texas without oxygen. 

The thought of its absence has been too bitter to contemplate. And in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, I’ve allowed myself to go down one rabbit hole after another — trying to discern information from disinformation, and political rhetoric from that which is concrete. 

Continue reading “EVAN REN: UIL announcement promising, but are we out of the woods just yet?”

WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Standouts Buck, Philipp leave lasting mark on Wylie softball program

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.

After leading the Wylie softball team on a memorable ride to the Region I-5A semifinals a year ago as juniors, standouts Bailey Buck and Kaylee Philipp had big things planned for their final high school season.

And with their team sporting a 14-3 record and a top-20 statewide ranking in mid-March, they were well on their way to achieving those when the COVID-19 outbreak put an early end to their senior year.

Now the pair, who are part of a six-player senior class that was instrumental in making the Lady Bulldogs’ transition to Class 5A a successful one, can only imagine how this season might have turned out had it not been cut short by a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic.

And their coach, Heather Collier, can’t help but be disappointed that two players who were so important to her program won’t get to finish their stellar careers in fitting fashion.

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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.

Continue reading “EVAN REN: Virus may teach us some appreciation (for a while)”

WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: COVID-19 shutdown adds to whirlwind school year for Wylie’s Martin

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.

When taking on a new job with new responsibilities, it’s natural to expect the unexpected.

But new Wylie football coach and athletic director Clay Martin couldn’t have possibly imagined how his first few months on the job would go.

Hired to replace his longtime boss Hugh Sandifer on Jan. 31, Martin saw his crash course in athletic directing come to a grinding halt in March, when the University Interscholastic League first announced that all spring sports action would be suspended as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. That suspension became a cancellation on Friday, effectively ending the spring athletic season and capping a whirlwind school year for Martin.

Instead of holding his first spring football workouts and supporting Wylie’s spring sport coaches and athletes through their seasons, Martin now finds himself in the same situation everyone else does these days — in coronavirus limbo.

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BREAKING: Wylie honors Sandifer with renaming of stadium

The Wylie ISD school board voted Monday night to rename Bulldog Stadium after former football coach and athletic director Hugh Sandifer.

The stadium, which hosts football and soccer for the school, will now be known as Hugh Sandifer Stadium.

Sandifer, who coached at the school for 41 years, announced his retirement in early January. In his career, he compiled a 285-127-4 record with 27 playoff berths, four state championship game appearances and the 2004 state championship.

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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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All-Big Country Preps Boys Basketball Superlatives: Brewer, Medina, Lenard head of 2020 class

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

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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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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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FEATURE: Senior-led AHS, Wylie softball teams still hoping to finish what they’ve started

In a way, the COVID-19 (coronavirus) crisis has put everyone on equal footing. Life has effectively been put on hold for adults and students alike, and the only certainty for either group is uncertainty.

This reality has hit close to home for veteran coaches Heather Collier and Jim Reese, whose Wylie Lady Bulldogs and Abilene High Lady Eagles have, in less than two weeks, gone from district title hopefuls to just hoping for a chance to take the field again in 2010.

Like all softball teams in the state of Texas, Wylie and Abilene High are in a holding pattern, adhering to the University Interscholastic League’s suspension of all sanctioned sports, which was extended from March 29 to May 4 on Thursday. But with senior-led teams that were off to outstanding starts, the waiting game’s a little extra painful for Collier and Reese.

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LOCAL BASEBALL ROUNDUP: Wylie, Cooper fall to open league play

ALEDO — The Wylie baseball team opened District 4-5A play with a tough 3-2 road loss to Aledo, seeing 2-0 lead evaporate over the final four innings.

The Bulldogs scored single runs in the first and third innings to go up early, but the Bearcats trimmed the lead to one run in the fourth before completing the rally with a two-run sixth.

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BIG COUNTRY PREPS PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Multi-talented AHS star Roberson takes top spot

Abilene High junior Trakenya (KK) Roberson is probably best known for her work on the basketball court, where she’s been weaving through defenses for one layup after another since she was a freshman. 

But this speedy standout’s skills aren’t confined to the hardwood. She’s also an excellent softball player where she serves as a starting outfielder and leadoff hitter for the 15-4 Lady Eagles.

Last week, she put her many talents on display in leading AHS to four wins in six games, earning Big Country Preps Player of the Week honors in the process. 

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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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BCP Baseball Position Rankings: Outfielders

For Day 4 of our five-part baseball position rankings series, we focus our binoculars on the outfield grass.

After highlighting the Big Country’s top pitchers, catchers and infielders earlier this week, we now do the same with the area’s best outfielders, ranking our top 10 with others to watch in 2020.

We hope you enjoy our list.

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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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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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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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GAME STORY: Cooper boys claim 4-5A’s third seed with another win over Wylie

It might have been Abilene High’s Eagle Gym, but on Friday night, Noah Garcia took ownership for Cooper.

The junior had a game-high 27 points — 20 in the first half — as the Cougars knocked off Wylie for the third time this season with a 62-50 win, claiming the third seed from District 4-5A.

“We are going to go best-of-seven,” Cooper coach Bryan Conover said, jokingly. “It just worked out that way (to play) four times in a year. They’re really good and we didn’t have to spend much time scouting. We knew what we were getting into, and the kids came out and played well.”

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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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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: 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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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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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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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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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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