Monthly archive

October 2019

GRIDIRON GURUS: Week 10

in Predictions

PUTTING IT ON THE LINE

Join Clifton head coach Chuck Caniford, Meridian head coach Wade Morton, local sports photographer David Harding and The Sports Buzz’ Brett Voss every Thursday as The Sports Buzz Gridiron Gurus pick their winners for the week’s upcoming college and pro football games involving teams that call Texas home.

In addition to picking the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans, our panel will select games involving your favorite teams from the NCAA Div. I, Div. II and Div. III.

Be sure to make your picks as well!

©2019 Southern Cross Creative, LLP. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

RETURN TRIP: Lady Cub Gaona qualifies for 2nd straight state meet

in Cross Country

HUNTSVILLE – After advancing to the Class 3A, Region III Cross Country Championships by capturing a bronze medal in the District 17-3A Championships last week, Clifton senior Daniella Gaona earned a second straight trip to the State Meet with an 11th place finish at Kate Barr Ross Memorial Park in Huntsville Monday.

“This was Daniella’s fourth year to run the regional meet at this course, and she turned in her best performance in terms of place and time,” Clifton cross country head coach Ryan Hunt said. “I can’t say enough about her work ethic and attitude toward cross country.  She’s a very determined individual and to see her run at the level, she is is very rewarding as a coach.  She gets to finish off her cross country career in Round Rock at the 3A UIL State Meet, and that’s pretty special.”

At the District 17-3A Championships held at Rex Callicott Park in Keene Oct. 16, the Lady Cubs placed fourth as a team behind the bronze medal effort by Daniella Gaona, followed by sophomore Kasandra Gaona (14th), sophomore Kamryn Zint (17th), sophomore Sadie Sanders (21st) and senior Sutton Finney (30th).

In the tightly contested field, the Clifton girls finished with 81 points, trailing district champion Whitney (61), runner-up Grandview (70) and Maypearl (76).

Behind the 19th-place finish by sophomore Jorge Rodriguez, the young Clifton boys squad finished fifth in the team standings. Also running for the Cubs were freshman Peyton Urbanovsky (28th), junior Cameron Bateson (29th), senior Luke Cockrell (32nd) and sophomore Varlos Villarreal (35th).

“We gave ourselves a chance by coming out and running the best we have all year,” Ryan said. “The girls team missed qualifying by just a few spots.  We had some of our best performances of the year by both our boys and girls and that is all you can ask for at this point.”

In the Middle School Divisions, Clifton boys and girls shined as the 8th grade boys won the district title, while the 7th grade girls finished as district runner-up. Clifton medalists included 8th grade boys – Eddie Gaona (3rd), Jesus Lopez (5th), Clay Kennedy (7th), Andres Devora (9th); 7th Boys – Blake Cockrell (2nd); 8th Girls – Laylah Gaona (7th); and 7th Girls – Jocelyn Ramirez (2nd), Hailey Issacs (6th).

“I’m also really excited about the way our Middle School teams performed,” Ryan said. “We have the potential to be pretty solid in the future.  As always, I’m proud of the way our kids have competed and worked all year.”

For complete results from the District 17-3A Championships, click here: https://www.athletic.net/CrossCountry/meet/158995/results

For complete results from the Class 3A, Region III Championships, click here: https://www.athletic.net/CrossCountry/meet/168694/results/698591

Photos by SANDRA VASQUEZ GAONA

©2019 Southern Cross Creative, LLP. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

FUTURE FOUNDATION: Lady Cubs closes out solid season

in Volleyball

CLIFTON – Armed with only two seniors and a host of talented underclassmen, the Clifton Lady Cub volleyball team did not realize their dream of making the Class 3A, Division II playoffs for the first time in years this season. But under the guidance of first-year head coach Paige Poth, the Lady Cubs have laid the foundation for the future.

In their home finale Tuesday, the Lady Cubs dropped a hard-fought four-set match to playoff-bound Rio Vista in a District 17-3A matchup at the Clifton High School gymnasium. Clifton (4-9 in district, 17-21 overall) won the first set, 25-17, but Rio Vista (8-5, 18-15) battled back to win the second, 25-19, then took control to put the Lady Cubs away, 25-11, 25-9.

“We battled and fought hard against Rio Vista,” Clifton volleyball’s first-year head coach Paige Poth said. “We came out and did a good job running the offense and playing solid defense.”

Sophomore Ava Anderson led the Lady Cubs with nine kills, followed by freshman Elizabeth Scott with five. Senior Audrey Anderson provided a team-highs with 21 digs and 27 service receptions, followed by Ava Anderson with 16 digs and 10 service receives, sophomore Kasandra Gaona with 11 digs and 16 service receives, while junior Bailey Ledbetter dished out 20 assists and 10 digs.

“Tonight, we have Whitney,” said Poth as Clifton travels to Whitney today to take off the playoff-bound Lady Wildcats at 5 p.m. “We did really good things last time up against them. We ran a solid defense and did good things offensively.”

In other District 17-3A action today, the district champion and fourth-ranked West Lady Trojans (13-0, 37-4) visits Grandview (6-7, 19-17), district runner-up and 21st-ranked Maypearl (10-3, 31-9) travels to Waco to face Harmony Science Academy (0-13); and Rio Vista (8-5, 18-15) hosts Keene (3-10, 6-22).

Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS

©2019 Southern Cross Creative, LLP. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

UP & OUT: Despite upset win over Grandview, Lady Cubs playoff hopes end

in Volleyball

CLIFTON – Playing before an enthusiastic home court crowd on Senior Night, the Clifton Lady Cub volleyball team rose to the occasion, avenging a first round loss to Grandview with a thrilling five-set victory over the Lady Zebras Tuesday evening in a District 17-3A matchup at the Clifton High School gymnasium.

Facing a must-win situation to keep their playoff hopes alive, the Lady Cubs (4-8 in district, 17-20 overall) shook off a slow start after losing first set, 25-13, to win the next two sets in dramatic fashion by identical scores, 27-25, 27-25. Grandview (5-7, 18-17) responded by winning the fourth set, 25-15, Clifton rallied in the tiebreaker to win, 15-12.

“The girls went out and did wonderful,” Clifton volleyball’s first-year head coach Paige Poth said. “We did have a few times we struggled, but we instantly bounced back. Game 5 we started and ended wonderful.

“There was so much energy and leadership in that game. Both of my seniors, Josephine Burke and Audrey Anderson,  really kept the momentum going every point and every set and illustrated great leadership on the court with their heart and hustle.”

Despite the dramatic victory, the Lady Cubs were eliminated from postseason contention when Rio Vista (7-5, 17-15) posted a dominating, 25-9, 25-9, 25-6, straight set victory over Waco Harmony Science Academy Tuesday. Clifton will play host to Rio Vista today at 4:30 p.m. before wrapping up the season at Whitney (8-4, 29-13) next Tuesday.  

“Overall, all the girls worked hard and played well together and pushed each other every point,” Poth said. “I was very proud that they continue to work hard every game and find new ways to get better.”

In other District 17-3A action today, the undefeated and fourth-ranked West Lady Trojans (12-0, 36-4) visit Whitney, 21st-ranked Maypearl (9-3, 30-9) hosts Keene (3-9, 6-21), and Harmony Science Academy (0-12) hits the road to take on Grandview.

Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS

©2019 Southern Cross Creative, LLP. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

GRIDIRON GURUS: Week 9

in Predictions

PUTTING IT ON THE LINE

Join Clifton head coach Chuck Caniford, Meridian head coach Wade Morton, local sports photographer David Harding and The Sports Buzz’ Brett Voss every Thursday as The Sports Buzz Gridiron Gurus pick their winners for the week’s upcoming college and pro football games involving teams that call Texas home.

In addition to picking the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans, our panel will select games involving your favorite teams from the NCAA Div. I, Div. II and Div. III.

Be sure to make your picks as well!

©2019 Southern Cross Creative, LLP. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

ON THE BRINK: Lady Cubs face elimination vs. Grandview

in Volleyball

CLIFTON – After falling to Class 3A’s fourth-ranked West in straight sets last Friday, the Clifton Lady Cubs find themselves in a must-win situation today as they host the Grandview Lady Zebras in a District 17-3A clash at 5 p.m. in the Clifton High School Gymnasium.

With only three matches remaining in the Texas high school volleyball regular season, the Lady Cubs (3-8 in district, 16-20 overall) need a win today to pull within a game of Grandview (5-6, 18-16) for fifth place in district. Unfortunately, though, Clifton needs some help to stay alive as Rio Vista (6-5, 16-15) can eliminate the Lady Cubs from contention with a victory over Waco Harmony Science Academy today.

Regardless, the Lady Cubs have remained competitive all season in arguably one of the toughest districts in the state as Clifton’s performance against the West Lady Trojans (11-0, 35-4) showed.

“Our defense was great,” Clifton volleyball’s first-year head coach Paige Poth said. “I couldn’t be more proud of the fight we put up.  The movement of the ball and defense was one of the best I have seen all year. The girls got out there and fought every single play, and I think that play will influence the game tonight against Grandview.

“This game for us tonight is very important. We have been doing great things in practice and each game we get a little better.”

In other District 17-3A action today, 21st-ranked Maypearl (9-2, 30-8) travels to West to take on the undefeated Lady Trojans, while third place Whitney (7-4, 29-13) visits Keene (3-8, 5-20).

Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS

©2019 Southern Cross Creative, LLP. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Astros stand on the brink of modern MLB dynasty

in Commentary/Pro/College

Dynasty? Did I hear someone say dynasty?


As hard as it might be for life-long Houston Astros fans to comprehend and embrace, the Astros rank as closest thing to a dynasty existing in this era of Major League Baseball. And winning the World Series for the second time in three years would make talk like that a realistic reality.


That’s right, sports fans. Not the iconic New York Yankees, with its newest version of the Bronx Bombers setting home run records, who have been knocked out of the postseason three times in the last five seasons by the Houston Astros. Not the legendary Los Angeles Dodgers, who lost to the Houston Astros in the 2017 World Series in the middle of three consecutive losing trips to the Fall Classic.


Instead, we’re talking about the franchise formerly known as the Last-ros, Houston’s laughingstocks of baseball, losing a whopping 324 games from 2011-2013 while posting three straight 100-plus losing seasons – including a team-record 111 in 2013.


But since then, the Houston Astros have qualified for the postseason four times in the last five years, and they have won three straight American League West titles.


For the Astros, winning a second World Series title in three years, on the heels of winning 100 games in three straight regular seasons, would put Houston in rare and elite company. In Major League history, only two other teams – the 1929-31 Philadelphia A’s and the 1942-44 St. Louis Cardinals – won at least 100 games three times AND two World Series titles in the same three-year span.


But taking it to yet another level, the Astros have been winning in a historically dominant fashion. Over the last three season, Houston holds a MLB-record +752-run differential over its opponents – 150 more than the 1998-2000 Yankees.


And no one will ever forget how Houston got to its second World Series in three years. Diminutive all-star second baseman Jose Altuve provided only the fifth postseason walk-off home run to secure a pennant ever before the 43,357 hometown faithful who watch the instant classic four-hour heavyweight battle and the ensuing triumphant celebration, a moment that will forever remain enshrined in the annals of baseball history.


Altuve’s historic American League Championship Series two-run bomb to left-center gave Houston a 6-4 victory over the New York Yankees in Game 6 of the best-of-seven game series Saturday night. And of course, the ultimate test to the formula for success will be on the line when the 115th edition of the World Series against the National League champion and wild card qualifying Washington Nationals begins tonight at Minute Maid Park in Houston.


In previous eras, the MLB titans once relied on raiding the free-agent market to build their pennant-collecting clubs.


But today, Houston stands at the forefront of the modernized approach, seeking to be intelligent franchises proficient at accumulating and developing players before they reach their peaks. The Astros rank as the clear model of contemporary success and the ability to strike the ideal balance between internal maximization of young talent and acquisition of expensive, win-now contributors.


The Astros have struck at the right moments in recent years to stack the deck in their favor come October, while the Yankees and Dodgers have repeatedly disappointed in that regard. And to accentuate the moves, most players have improved upon joining the Astros.


Cy Young candidate Gerrit Cole stands out as a case in point after being underachiever as the 2011 overall No. 1 draft pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates. Since coming to the Astros in a 2018 offseason trade, Cole has become arguably the most dominate starting pitcher in baseball.


Cole (20-5, 2.50 ERA) enters the World Series with 358 total strikeouts in 2019, the most by anyone since Randy Johnson (419) in 2001, and will take the mound in Game 1. In the midst of one of the most amazing runs of any starting pitcher in recent history, Cole has gone 19-0 with a 1.59 ERA, a 0.81 WHIP and 258 strikeouts in 169 1/3 innings in his past 25 starts, including the playoffs. His dominant start to the postseason (3-0, 0.40 ERA, 32 strikeouts) has extended history, and the Astros have won each of his past 16 starts.


Of course, the trade deadline signing and second coming of future Hall of Fame pitcher Justin Verlander (21-6, 2.58 ERA, 300 strikeouts) brought Houston its first World Series title in franchise history in 2017, and he has been an integral part of the Astro quest for another this season.


But while the Astros have received widespread praise for the key trades and signings, Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow should also be lauded for the deals he refused to make, protecting Houston’s prospect base and future. The Astros’ management and in-house development has ensured, at least to the greatest extent anything can be ensured in baseball, that correct moves spawn intended results.


Given their esteemed histories, MLB fans across the county expected the Yankees and Dodgers to do what it takes to stay a step ahead of the league. But in this day and age, the Houston Astros represent what both storied franchises want to be.


Still not buying it? Try walking around New York City for a day wearing a Houston Astro baseball cap. I did this summer. The combination of scornful respect and envy I experienced from loyal Yankee fans was astounding, as if the Astros had become the baseball royalty New York yearns to be once again. And that was even before Houston’s latest ALCS triumph.


Can you say dynasty? That sweet word by any other name just might be the Houston Astros.

SENIOR STRONG: Meridian’s Hensley running for McMurry War Hawks

in Cross Country

ABILENE – McMurry Cross Country returned home and got a feel for its upcoming American Southwest Conference meet as the program hosted the eighth annual Bill Libby Invitational Saturday at the ACU Cross Country Course in Abilene.

Senior Latham Hensley, a Meridian High School graduate, finished in the top third of the men’s field at 34th place with a time of 29:18.8. At Meridian High, Hensley was a four-year regional qualifier in cross country, a three-year regional qualifier in track and also played football for the Yellowjackets.

Overall, the McMurry men’s team finished eighth in the overall field and fourth among the American Southwest Conference schools with 175 points.

“We had several course personal records on both the men’s and women’s teams, which is always a good sign of improvement,” said McMurry head coach Rexi Parcells. “We will spend the next two weeks fine-tuning things as we gear up for the conference championships.”

The War Hawks now turn their attention to the American Southwest Conference championships, which they will host in two weeks on Nov. 2 at the ACU Cross Country Course.

Photos courtesy of McMURRY WAR HAWK ATHLETICS

©2019 Southern Cross Creative, LLP. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

HANGING ON: Lady Cub playoff hopes in jeopardy after loss to 21st-ranked Maypearl

in Volleyball

WEST – Putting the Clifton volleyball team’s playoff hopes in jeopardy, Class 3A’s 21st-ranked Maypearl defeated the Lady Cubs in straight sets, 25-16, 25-20, 25-15, on Tuesday.

With the win, Maypearl (8-2 in district, 29-8 overall) solidified its hold on second place in District 17-3A behind Class 3A’s fifth-ranked West (10-0, 34-4). The sixth place Lady Cubs (3-7, 16-19) will visit West today at 4:30 p.m.

“We played good up against them, and I thought we did good things both ways, offense and defense,” Clifton volleyball’s first-year head coach Paige Poth said. “We still are coming along and progressing quite well, and I am proud that no matter the team we face, we fight!”

Against Maypearl, Lady Cub sophomore Ava Anderson led the Lady Cubs with nine kills, followed by senior Josephine Burke and freshman Elizabeth Scott with five each and freshman Carley Caniford with three.

Senior Audrey Anderson delivered team-highs with four service aces and 14 digs along with 17 service receptions, junior Bailey Ledbetter handed out a team-high 18 assists, and Ava Anderson led Clifton in service receiving with 19 along with coming up with 12 digs, followed by sophomore Kamryn Zint with nine digs.

In other District 17-3A action today, Rio Vista (5-5, 15-15) visits Grandview (5-5, 18-15) in a battle for fourth place, Waco Harmony Science Academy (0-9), Maypearl will host third place Whitney (7-3, 29-12), and  Keene (2-8, 4-20) takes on Waco Harmony Science Academy (0-10).

Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS

©2019 Southern Cross Creative, LLP. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

GRIDIRON GURUS: Week 8

in Predictions

PUTTING IT ON THE LINE

Join Clifton head coach Chuck Caniford, Meridian head coach Wade Morton, local sports photographer David Harding and The Sports Buzz’ Brett Voss every Thursday as The Sports Buzz Gridiron Gurus pick their winners for the week’s upcoming college and pro football games involving teams that call Texas home.

In addition to picking the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Texans, our panel will select games involving your favorite teams from the NCAA Div. I, Div. II and Div. III.

Be sure to make your picks as well!

©2019 Southern Cross Creative, LLP. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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