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SAN ANTONIO — Prior to Thursday’s Class 3A state semifinal with Winnie East Chambers, Brock coach Zach Boxell was concerned enough over a Buccaneer full-court press that he made it a top priority in his game prep.
The extra effort paid off with a 58-49 Brock win at the Alamodome — pushing the Eagles (33-6) to Saturday’s state championship game where they will meet Dallas Madison (20-15) at 10 a.m. on Saturday.
You won’t find cupcakes at a butcher shop.
You won’t find them at the state basketball tournament either. In fact, the expiration date for easy-to-beat pastries usually doesn’t extend beyond the area round of the playoffs, depending on what the pairings dictate.
So when I say that Big Country representatives Brock (3A) and Jayton (1A) are in for a real challenge when they open play at the state tournament in San Antonio on Thursday, a shrug of the shoulders and a raise of the eyebrows is expected.
For most high school basketball programs, a trip to a state tournament is a historic achievement. For the Brock boys team, it’s almost an expectation.
That’s what happens when you’ve made 12 state appearances in your program’s history, including 11 since 1992 and five since 2012.
But don’t let the Eagles’ businesslike demeanor or tempered reaction to a dominant regional run fool you: There’s nothing easy about what they’ve done this season. And though they are a confident bunch, their sky-high expectations come with a matching drive and work ethic.
PLAINVIEW — Coming into Saturday’s Region I-3A title game against Childress with four state tournament appearances since 2012 and the No. 1 ranking in Class 3A, the Brock Eagles were expected by most to represent their region at the state tournament next week in San Antonio.
But that didn’t make the achievement of clinching yet another state berth any less satisfying for coach Zach Boxell or his squad.
Bradon Smith scored 20 points and Scott Thomas added 16 to lift Brock to a 58-40 win over Childress at Wayland Baptist University’s Hutcherson Center, improving the Eagles to 33-5 on the year and completing a dominant run through Region I in which the Eagles won each of their first five playoff games by at least 14 points.
After nearly four months of basketball, just three Big Country boys teams remain.
Brock, Jayton and Eula stand alone as the area’s last remaining survivors, and each now finds itself two victories away from a trip to San Antonio for the state tournament.
The Eagles, ranked No. 1 in Class 3A, must survive the field at the Region I-3A tournament in Plainview, while the Class 1A No. 9 Jaybirds and 11th-ranked Pirates will compete in the Region II-1A and Region III-1A tournaments, respectively.
Which, if any, of those teams will still be playing after this weekend? Only time will tell. But let’s take a look at what each group is up against, and what it will need to do to reach high school’s equivalent of the Final Four.
PLAINVIEW — In the end, it all came down to how many extra shots were taken.
Pounding the glass for 14 offensive rebounds, the top-ranked Wall Lady Hawks got 16 extra shots in their 56-49 win over Brock in Friday’s Region I-3A semifinal at Wayland Baptist University.
That, combined with a 15-7 disparity in turnovers, was a handicap that Brock had no answer for as Wall (31-1) advanced to Saturday’s regional title game. There, they will face third-ranked Idalou (31-5), which closed the semifinal doubleheader with a 41-36 overtime win over Jim Ned.
CISCO — For two full quarters, the unranked Colorado City Wolves played No. 1 Brock to a near standstill at Ray Saunders Gym, heading into the locker room trailing 27-24.
The third quarter, however, brought a stark reminder of why Brock entered this week sitting atop the rankings, with a backbreaking 20-3 run to put the game out of reach in just eight minutes.
Bradon Smith scored 19 points and Scott Thomas tossed in 18 more to lead Brock, which then cruised to a 60-47 win.
BROWNWOOD — How good was Brock’s defense in Friday’s 36-18 area round win over Colorado City?
Good enough for the Lady Eagles to score only 36 points, yet dominate the game from start to finish.
Olivia Lewis, Kasaundra Boxell and Evan Roberts scored seven points apiece and Jessica Leek added six to lift Brock (31-8), which advances to face Nocona (31-3) in the Region I-3A quarterfinals next week.
FEATURED SCHOOLS: Albany, Anson, Baird, Breckenridge, Brock, Brownwood, Clyde, Coahoma, Colorado City, Comanche, Cross Plains, Dublin, Eastland, Forsan, Hamlin, Haskell, Jim Ned, Merkel, Snyder, Stamford, Stephenville, Wall and Winters.
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With the success the Brock Eagles have experienced since starting up their football program eight years ago, the creeping nature of complacency is a natural and constant threat.
When you’ve only once in six varsity seasons lost as many as three games in a year— and you just happened to end that campaign in a state title game — it can be hard not to take that level of achievement for granted.
But if coach Chad Worrell and his Eagles have been spoiled by their success, they have a funny way of showing it.
In fact, talking to Worrell and his players about this year’s run, which has them set to face Malakoff in a state semifinal game at 4 p.m. Friday in Frisco, you might conclude they were the Rocky Balboa in this story — toppling one celebrated opponent after another on the way to their ultimate goal.
If you’ve ever wondered how this program has accomplished what it has in such a short period of time and continues year after to year to be great, it’s in that focus and hunger that you’ll find the answer.