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After three close calls with the state tournament that had died on the regional vine, even Jayton coach Ryan Bleiker had begun to wonder if he would ever guide the Jaybirds to the final four.
But somehow, someway, this weekend in Abilene, he saw it coming — a two-game regional sweep with consecutive wins over Eden (58-25) and Irion County (47-32) to send Jayton to its first-ever state tournament in boys basketball.
Something in the Jaybirds’ demeanor told Bleiker that his stretch of losing three regional semifinals in four years was over.
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The Jayton Jaybirds boys basketball team is heading 332 miles south to the state tournament for the first time in school history.
Some of coach Ryan Bleiker’s final instructions to his squad in the locker room before the game were: “Never been done before. Never been done. There’s not many things in Jayton you can say has never been done before. This is one of them.”
The Jaybirds punched their ticket to San Antonio with a 47-32 win over Mertzon Irion County on Saturday afternoon at Abilene Christian University’s Moody Coliseum.
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.
PLAINVIEW — The top-ranked Brock Eagles are one win away from their fifth state tournament appearance since 2012 after riding a strong first half to a 67-52 victory over Brownfield in their Region I-3A semifinal Friday at Wayland Baptist University’s Hutcherson Center.
Brock outscored the Cubs 15-8 in the first quarter and 24-18 in the second to take a 13-point lead into halftime and kept Brownfield from ever making a serious run at the lead over the final two periods to improve to 32-5 on the year.
Coming into the Region III-1A semifinal with Slidell, the Eula Pirates were on fire from the field, canning no fewer than 24 3-pointers over their last two games.
That stretch came to an icy finish on Friday, with Eula struggling from the floor in a 51-36 loss at Mansfield High School.
Brock Harwell scored 23 points and Slayton Pruett added 14 more to lead Slidell (30-9), which advances to face top-ranked Lipan in the Region III title game at 2 p.m. on Saturday.
PLAINVIEW —A slight edge in every major statistic added up to a convincing 52-36 win for the Wall Lady Hawks in Saturday’s Region I-3A championship game with Idalou.
Jayden Fiebiger scored 16 points and Samantha Rocha added a dozen more to lift Wall (32-1), which took control of the game shortly after the outset of the second half.
The Lady Hawks now advance to the UIL State Tournament in San Antonio on Feb. 28. Their opponent in the state semifinals should be announced on Sunday.
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.