Tag: Jim Ned Indians

Evan Ren’s 2021 Gym Rat Team: The toughest, hardest-working teammates in the Big Country

While scoring and rebounding garner much of the attention in basketball, there are other elements, crucial to success, that seldom grab headlines. 

Behind the scenes is where character, effort and sacrifice set the foundation for teams to reach their full potential. And it is with our Big Country Preps Gym Rat Team that we salute the individuals who bring these elements to the table. 

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 outworking, outhustling and outgiving everyone around you, both on the floor and off. Hard-working, honest, selfless, tough, coachable kids are what we seek for this roster. 

A Gym Rat Team member can be your best player or the last player off the bench. But the one thing all of them bring is an uncompromisingly good attitude. 

It is for that reason that our Gym Rat Team is selected entirely by area coaches. And Big Country Preps is truly honored to present these individuals to you — the best “team players” (boys and girls) that the area had to offer during the 2020-21 season.

Players are listed in no particular order. 

Enjoy.

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GAME STORY: Jim Ned clamps down defensively to eliminate Holliday

BRECKENRIDGE — Entering Saturday’s 3A area round game with Holliday as a heavy favorite, the Jim Ned Lady Indians and their fans weren’t expecting a major scare from HHS. 

Yet that’s exactly what they received for the better part of two quarters at the Breckenridge Fine Arts Center, before a dominating defensive effort helped Jim Ned pull away for a 48-32 win. 

Lexi Wishert and Alexis Espinsosa tallied 11 and 10 points respectively to lead Jim Ned (26-2), which advances to face Bowie at 6 p.m. on Tuesday in Breckenridge. 

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GAME STORY: Two fast starts for Wall, two Jim Ned rallies produce split doubleheader in Tuscola

TUSCOLA — A high-profile Friday doubleheader saw Jim Ned suffer two straight slow starts against Wall at Bill Thornton arena. The Jim Ned girls overcame theirs, topping their area rival 52-36. 

The boys weren’t so fortunate, falling to the Hawks 55-50, despite a frantic effort to erase an early deficit that had ballooned to 16 points by the second quarter.

On the girls side, Ashton Garner, Alexis Espinosa and Ashlynn Galvin dropped in 15, 14 and 13 points respectively to lift the 15th-ranked Lady Indians (21-2, 11-1). The win forces a first-place tie in District 6-3A with No. 14 Wall (20-3, 11-1), which suffered its first district loss of the year. 

Trailing 17-8 at the end of the first quarter and 21-13 with 4:46 left in the second, the Lady Indians closed the half on a 14-0 run and never relinquished the lead beyond that point. 

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Evan Ren’s Big Country playoff forecast

LAST WEEK: 3-2, .600
SEASON TOTAL: 432-93, .823

With two small-school area teams — Jim Ned and May — now joined in the postseason party by locals Abilene High, Cooper and Wylie (in the 6A-5A bi-district rounds), the Big Country still has five football teams still afloat heading into this week.

It should be noted that May, having already qualified for the 1A DI (six-man) state title game, won’t play again until next week’s championship matchup with Sterling City.
The rest will see action Friday and Saturday in venues scattered all over Texas, from the Metroplex to Fort Stockton.

Let’s dive in and have a look at all the matchups.

I’ll see you on the road. 

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FEATURE: Young, motivated Jim Ned boys heading to Cross Country regional

TUSCOLA — A year ago, the Jim Ned boys cross country team couldn’t have left the Region I-3A meet in Lubbock with more motivation. 

With four teams qualifying for the state meet in Round Rock, the Indians narrowly missed the cut with a fifth-place finish. And among individual runners, Chris Saling, a freshman at the time, missed qualifying for state by a razor-thin 0.10 of a second. 

Needless to say, the Indians returned to their offseason training with increased intensity — perhaps more than even coach Blake Allen or the team members had envisioned. 

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BCP GAME OF THE WEEK: Indians top Wall 28-8 behind Wishert, stout defense

TUSCOLA — If anyone doubted that Jim Ned’s Xavier Wishert is one of the premier running backs in the Big Country, he furnished 211 yards worth of proof in Friday’s Big Country Preps Game of the Week. 

Scoring three of Jim Ned’s four touchdowns in a 28-8 win over perennial power Wall, Wishert was the primary weapon in an Indian attack that scratched out 324 total yards.

The Jim Ned defense took much of the spotlight as well, limiting Wall’s vaunted option game to 222 total yards (all on the ground) to lift the Indians (5-1, 2-0 District 3-3A DI), who are now in the district driver’s seat. It was the fifth straight victory for Jim Ned since a season-opening loss to Ballinger.

Wall (4-3, 1-1) was led by Dominic Garcia, with 100 yards on 20 carries. 

Continue reading “BCP GAME OF THE WEEK: Indians top Wall 28-8 behind Wishert, stout defense”

BCP GAME OF THE WEEK: Huge second half lifts Jim Ned over Cisco

CISCO — When Cisco’s Hunter Long found Dawson Hearne in the back of the end zone for a 3-yard touchdown pass, everything seemed to be going in the Loboes’ favor in their non-district matchup with Jim Ned. 

Holding a 13-12 lead with 3:19 left in the third with all the momentum, the Loboes had rallied from a 12-0 deficit to gain the upper hand. 

Then it happened: A Jim Ned scoring avalanche of four straight touchdowns, turning the Big Country Preps Game of the Week on a dime in a 39-20 Jim Ned win. 

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BIG COUNTRY PREPS GAME OF THE WEEK: Ballinger rallies for tough win at Jim Ned

TUSCOLA — The season’s first Big Country Preps Game of the Week  lived up to its billing on Friday, with Ballinger needing a late touchdown to knock off Jim Ned 20-14 in a matchup of two teams expecting to do postseason damage. 

Reserve quarterback Carter Arrott led a game-winning touchdown drive and capped it with a 19-yard touchdown run with 3:42 to play to lead Ballinger (1-0), which held Jim Ned to just 219 total yards. 

Jim Ned (0-1), which got 100 yards rushing and two scores from Xavier Wishert, led from the 6:31 mark of the second quarter until Arrott’s TD.  

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FEATURE: Jim Ned’s Zach Henderson jumps from “C” teamer to standout in five years

TUSCOLA — Five years ago, Zach Henderson was struggling to get noticed on Jim Ned’s seventh-grade “C” team — a squad that is listed behind the “A” and “B” teams on the middle school depth chart. 

It is not unheard of for former “C” teamers to eventually work their way onto varsity rosters and contribute. But it is a genuine rarity for them to become standouts.

Henderson, through a combination of hard work and a physical transformation courtesy of genetics, has achieved exactly that. And heading into the 2020 season, a player few believed could ever be productive at the varsity level, now stands as one of the top Class 3A receiving prospects in the Big Country.     

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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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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Fanning talks about the spring he expected and dealing with COVID frustration

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.

Jim Ned football coach Matt Fanning is not only at the helm of one of the area’s fastest-growing football programs, but he’s also directing an overall athletic program that is on the rise. 

That comes with a downside, courtesy of COVID-19.

The Indians’ rapid ascent has made the program a point of interest for those paying attention throughout the area — creating a high potential for frustration on the part of Fanning whose hands have been tied by the pandemic.

Nonetheless, Fanning, who will carry a 16-7 mark into his third football season this fall, has managed to keep an even keel with a very simple approach. He now visits with Big Country Preps’ Evan Ren to talk about the spring that might have been in Tuscola and how he’s kept his cool while prepping for the fall. 

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Young Jim Ned Indians look ahead to brighter future

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.

With the way his team was playing at the time of the COVID-19 shutdown, Jim Ned baseball coach Ryan Lewis has every right be disappointed by the the abrupt and premature end to the Indians’ 2020 season.

Holding a 6-2 record with close losses to top-10 teams from Breckenridge (5-4) and Wall (5-3), Jim Ned was well on its way to building on the 20-10 mark and area-round playoff finish it achieved in 2019.

But rather than let that fact push him toward bitterness, Lewis has chosen to take a different — and perhaps surprising — posture. One of gratitude.

With no seniors on this year’s roster, the former Abilene High baseball coach was spared the types of heart-wrenching conversations many of his coaching friends have had to have with their veteran players. And though the Indians will never know just how good they might have been had this season continued uninterrupted, the horizon before them is every bit as bright as the one coronavirus put in the rearview.

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WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN: Jim Ned softballers, new coach felt Lady Indians were turning corner

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 or until the UIL rules that high school athletics statewide may resume. If you have a suggested story for the “What Might Have Been” series, please contact Big Country Preps at Evan.Ren@BigCountryPreps.com.

Aside from winning, first-year Jim Ned softball coach Erica Jones is well known for her over-the-top enthusiasm and her efforts to bring her teams into the same mindset.

Most recently, Jones, who has had successful stints at Clyde and Anson that included deep playoff runs at CHS, seemed on the verge of a breakthrough in Tuscola. That is, before the COVID-19 outbreak forced the UIL to suspend all athletic activity statewide.

She is now sitting things out with every other coach in Texas, hoping to hear that an all-clear has been given, allowing her and her players to return to work. But for Jones, who isn’t bashful about wearing her emotions on her sleeve, talking about the effect the crisis is having on her team brings her to tears.

“Once our basketball players came in, all the pieces to the puzzle were in place,” said Jones, who had guided Jim Ned program to a 10-5 mark at the time of the lockdown. “We weren’t very many games in (to the season) but we were rolling.”

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FEATURE: Former Jim Ned standout Meagan Mitchell trying to right the De Leon ship

DE LEON — While her married name of Meagan Mitchell may not ring a bell to Big Country hoops fans, her maiden name, Meagan O’Dell, will be remembered by many who were paying attention. 

Mitchell, a former all-state selection at Jim Ned who went on to play collegiately at Tarleton State, was one of the top players in Tuscola under former coach Jim Avery, which included a trip to state in 2012, where she made the all-tournament team. 

Now at age 25, Mitchell finds herself rebuilding a long-struggling De Leon team, using the same principles she learned under Avery and under former Tarleton State coach Ronnie Hearne. 

It took a little while, but those concepts are beginning to catch on at DHS, and it’s translating into wins.

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District 3-3A Division I: Week 10 Report

Eastland 42, Clyde 27 Behren Morton was 22 of 36 for 288 yards and four scores as Eastland recovered from its first loss of the year (at Wall on Oct.

Bonilla

25) with a big win over Clyde. 

Anthony Bonilla was Morton’s favorite target, hauling in seven catches for 142 yards and a score. He also rushed eight times for 69 yards and two more touchdowns as the Mavericks improved to 8-1 overall and 3-1 in district play. 

Dylan Neuman led Clyde (6-3, 2-2) with 231 yards passing, including a 37-yard TD pass to Jax Roam in the fourth quarter.

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District 3-3A Division I: Week 7 Report

Dickey

Wall 35, Clyde 7  In a high-profile game between the district favorite and perhaps the most-improved team in the league, the Hawks got the better of the upstart Bulldogs. 

Mason Fuchs threw for 79 yards, rushed for 23 and threw one TD pass to lead Wall (6-0, 1-0), tallied 222 rushing yards via committee. 

Leading 14-0 at the break, third-ranked Hawks blew the game open with a 5-yard TD run by Cinch Dickey at the 7:30 mark and a 17-yard TD jaunt by Chase Rios at 0:53. 

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District 3-3A Division I: Week 4 Report

Jim Ned 28, Mason 19 — The Indians (4-0) passed their most difficult test of the early season in workmanlike fashion.

Harwell

Trailing 6-0 early on, the Jim Ned gained a permanent upper hand with three straight touchdowns — the first of which came at the 0:16 mark of the first quarter on a 1-yard run by Riley Perry. 

Perry added a 3-yard TD with 4:08 left in the half before a 65-yard punt return by Jamin Harwell put the Indians up by three scores with 9:07 left in the third quarter. 

Continue reading “District 3-3A Division I: Week 4 Report”

District 3-3A Division I: Week 1 Report

Wall 47 , Mason 7 — Mason’s 40-game home winning streak was ended in a resounding way by the Hawks, who dominated from start to finish in a Thursday night game televised by Fox Sports Southwest. 

Wall (1-0) pounded out 353 yards rushing and Mason Fuchs threw two first-half TD passes in what was a largely unexpected rout. 

The Hawks limited Mason to just 111 yards in total offense, including 84 yards rushing on 40 carries.  

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FEATURE: Jim Ned’s Kimmel, Hayes among area’s best linebackers

TUSCOLA — There is perhaps no position in football that is more associated with aggression and toughness than that of linebacker. 

And with Jim Ned Indians working hard to shed their reputation as a basketball school in recent years, perhaps nothing illustrates their success in that endeavor more than their linebacking corps. 

Jim Ned, which enters the the 2019 season with legitimate district title hopes, has some of the best linebacking in the Big Country at any level. 

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JIM NED TEAM PREVIEW: Indians ready for dangerous district

TUCSOLA — With the exception of the days when Colt McCoy stood in the pocket at Jim Ned, the Indians have seldom been seen as a Region I threat in football. 

Until now. 

For those who haven’t noticed, the Indians are in the midst of a culture change. It started under former coach Jerod Womack and progressed even further last year under current mentor Matt Fanning.  Facing a monstrous schedule, the Indians posted a second straight 9-3 record last year, earning  a playoff spot in what has been rated as the second most difficult 3A district in Texas. 

Coming off their best two-year run in 15 years, the Indians enter the 2019 campaign with excellent numbers and a chance at both a district title and deep playoff run. 

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GAME STORY: Clyde takes 5-3A district championship with 5-3 win over Jim Ned

TUSCOLA — The Clyde baseball team clinched its fourth consecutive district championship with a 5-3 win over Jim Ned on Monday night in District 5-3A play.

Riley Rice went 6.2 innings and allowed three runs while scattering four hits. Rice also struck out eight and walked three as he outdueled Jim Ned freshman Tate Yardley.

Yardley went 5.1 innings, giving up four runs on eight hits while striking out four. He walked one and hit four others.

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GAME STORY: Jim Ned falls to Idalou in overtime heartbreaker (box score, video & photo gallery w/35 images included)

PLAINVIEW — Missed opportunities. Missed free throws. Turnovers. 

It may take a while for the sting of Friday’s 41-36 overtime loss to Idalou in a Region I-3A semifinal to finally subside for the Jim Ned Lady Indians, who staged an improbable comeback at Wayland Baptist University, only to see their season slip away in the end. 

Shaylee Stovall scored game-high 22 points to pace Idalou (31-5), which squares off with Wall (31-1) in the Region I-3A title game at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

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GAME STORY: Jim Ned escapes Early upset bid (box score, two videos & photo gallery included)

COLEMAN — Cruising along with a comfortable 37-25 lead after three quarters in Monday’s 3A bi-district game with Early, the Jim Ned Indians were poised to advance into the area round. 

There was just one problem: The Early Longhorns. 

Staging a furious rally through the final quarter, Early opened the period with a 10-0 run to cut the gap to 37-35 with 17 seconds to play, only to see Jim Ned escape the upset with a 39-35 win at Coleman High School.  

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