Monthly archive

February 2020

ONE MORE CHANCE: FCA Victory Bowl features 63 HOT athletes

in Reporting

When Central Texas athletes gather to participate in their respective sport’s all-star game as a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Victory Bowl festivities each summer, it becomes much more about the experience than the games themselves.

Bringing sports venues across Central Texas to life June 5-6, the 12th Annual FCA Super Centex Victory Bowl all-star games will feature graduated seniors from over 100 high schools in 12 counties from the Heart of Texas area. The teams will be coached by local head coaches and made up of players and cheerleaders who were nominated and selected by each of the Victory Bowl coaching staffs.

This year, the Victory Bowl service projects, practices and contests will bring together 92 football players, 24 volleyball players, 20 cheerleaders, 36 baseball players, 30 softball players, 75 band members and 30 area head coaches.

“It’s kind of a lull in the athletic calendar, so there’s a little bit of a window and it’s something to cheer for and watch and be a part of,” Heart of Texas FCA director Ben Johnson said. “It engages so many communities in Central Texas. Everybody’s got their representative, so that’s awesome.”

Benefiting the Heart of Texas Fellowship of Christian Athletes, rosters for the Blue and Red squads were recently revealed for the football, softball, baseball and volleyball games, as well as the cheer squads.

“This is a great honor for these student-athletes,” Clifton athletic director Chuck Caniford said. “Having been a part of Victory Bowl week in the past, I know that they are going to have a great experience. The FCA does a great job of making the week very special for these kids, and it will be fun to watch them enjoy this experience.”

The baseball and softball games will be played simultaneously June 5 at Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton. The volleyball contest has been slated for 12:30 p.m. June 6 at Waco University High School, while the football game will be 6:30 p.m. at Waco ISD Stadium.

Student-athletes representing the Heart of Texas will be:

Blue Team football players Caleb Ince of Cranfills Gap, Zade Kendall of Meridian, Darius Williams of Mount Calm, Dalton Martin and Javieon Simmons of Valley Mills, and Vance Trotter of Walnut Springs, facing Red Team players Dakota Price of Aquilla, Justin Ketcher of Axtell, Nathan Quattlebaum of Bruceville-Eddy, Dakota Mynarcik of Bynum, Coley Davis of Clifton, Giovanni Mendez of Covington, Jed Whitney of Crawford, Cade Kneuper of Hamilton, Ryan Irvin of Hico, Logan Morris of Hubbard, JaVonn Reed of Itasca, Tonny Sanchez-Yanez, Kyler Martin and Chris Bledsoe of Mart, Michael Ramos of McGregor, Isael Uribe of Oglesby, Donavon Blakes of Riesel, Juan Saucedo, Devin Wilson and Shawntay Owens of Whitney.

Playing in the volleyball game, Blue Team representatives will include Emma Rodriguez of Blum, Alexis Garner of Bosqueville, and Taylor Fouts of Valley Mills playing against Red Team members Rachel Kallus of Abbott, Ana Maddox, Anne Williams and Peyton Elmore of Crawford, and Delaney Woodell of Whitney.

Taking the baseball diamond will be Blue Team players Will McClellan of Bosqueville, Matt Rosas of Meridian and Cory McNai of Valley Mills taking on Red Team members Matthew Pevehouse of Abbott, Dylan Vardeman of Blum, Mason Brandenberger of Clifton, Colby Diduch of Grandview, Chance Hasse of Hubbard, Jhobe Smith of McGregor, Cody Stone of Moody, Lane Kemp of Riesel, and Jack Hamilton of West.

Ladies playing softball will be Blue Team player Jessica Johnson of Valley Mills, along with Red squad members Kenna Mynar of Abbott, Audrey Anderson of Clifton, Makey Dunbar of Crawford, Madison Knox of McGregor, Ellena Munoz of Moody, Jacie Ehlers of Riesel, Audry Holloman and Jordyne Reese of West, and Kenzie Seely of Whitney.

The cheer squad representatives will include Blue Cheer members Vianey Lujan of Cranfills Gap and Madisyn Hicks of Meridian, as well as Red Cheer members Sutton Finney of Clifton, Baylee Casillas of Covington, Kelsey Compton of Crawford, Jaydyn Gillham of Hubbard, Abby Killian and Lainey Hale of Hamilton.

Heart of Texas coaches participating in the 2020 Victory Bowl games will be Blue Team football coach Sam Moody of Valley Mills, and Red Team coaches Delbert Kelm of Crawford, Jarrett Shipp of Gholson, Charles Steele of Covington, and Josh Conner of Bynum; Blue Team volleyball coach Steve Hogan of Valley Mills and Red Team coach Hadley Joiner of Bruceville-Eddy; Red Team baseball coaches Kyle Crawford of Abbott, Randy Smith of Crawford, and Cody Brown of Axtell; Red Team softball coach Jessie Thompson of Hamilton; Blue Team cheer coach Patricia Leach of Hamilton and Red Team cheer coaches Tammy Bush of Riesel and Patricia Leach of Hamilton.

With multiple days of preparation and activities for some of the top athletes and cheerleaders in the area, the teams will gather on Wednesday at University High School to meet their coaches, get equipment, pose for photos and practice for the first time. Other activities on the agenda for the week included a team pancake-eating contest, a pep rally, and several service opportunities.

For some players, the Victory Bowl represents the first step from high school to competing at the college level. And in particular, the football game features a diverse group of players ranging from Class 1A’s six-man football all the way up to Class 6A.

But at the very least, it’s one last chance to step onto the field and compete in their respective sports.

Photos courtesy of FCA VICTORY BOWL

©2020 Southern Cross Creative, LLP. All rights reserved.

GENERATION GAP: Morgan boys capture 1st district title in 20 years

in Boys Basketball

MORGAN – In the spotlight of a community pep rally and dinner Feb. 16, the Morgan boys and girls basketball teams celebrated earning their respective trips to the Class 1A postseason for the first times in a generation, if not more.

The community rallied around the Morgan girls on the eve of their first Bi-District playoff victory in more than 50 years, and celebrated with the Morgan boys as they were presented with their first District Championship trophy in 20 years and “cut the nets down.”

“Sunday was such an amazing and fun celebration for the community of Morgan, Morgan boys basketball head coach Jeff Harrison said. “We are all so proud of what our girls and boys basketball teams have been able to accomplish. It has been an exciting and historical year. These are positive, impactful experiences that will stay with us.”

As the District 25-1A champion, the Morgan boys (13-1 in district, 27-5 overall) receive a first round bye and await the winner of Laneville (19-4) vs. Coolidge (18-10) Bi-District matchup at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in Athens to be their opponent in an Area playoff game to be played Thursday or Friday at a time and place to be determined.

The Eagles soared to their 14th straight victory with a convincing 64-39 win over playoff-bound Perrin-Whitt in a non-district playoff warm-up game. Thanks to getting back-to-back forfeits over Kopperl and Gholson to close out the District 25-1A schedule, Morgan had not been on the court to play a game in 11 days.

With Morgan junior Derik Davenport scoring a game-high 20 points while Emilio Villalovos drained five three-point shots to finish with 19 points, the Eagles built a 17-point lead by halftime and never looked back against Perrin-Whitt.

“Ending the season with two forfeits was just too much time with no game play,” Harrison said. “Perrin-Whitt is playoff-bound and finished third in their district, so it was a good match up.  We played solid, I was very pleased with our play. Our defense was solid which was a focus.”

Regardless of the warm-up game victory, the Eagles continue to soar with wind under their wings after claiming their first district title in 20 years in dramatic fashion.

With the score tied in overtime and only one second left on the clock, Davenport sank a free throw to hand the Eagles a thrilling 49-48 victory over second place Aquilla to clinch the District 25-1A championship Feb. 17.

“I’m so proud of my boys,” Harrison said. “We teach our kids that everything is earned, and they earned the district title. It has been 20 years since we have had one, so there is no containing the joy and excitement that we all have. We did it. It was a special night.”

Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS

STINGING STEAL: Jackets sink Santo final District 10-2A playoff berth

in Boys Basketball

MERIDIAN – After suffering a devastating loss at Hico last Friday, the Meridian boys basketball team went into the District 10-2A regular season facing a must-win situation against the playoff-bound Santo Wildcats. With their backs against the wall, the Yellowjackets rose to the occasion to knock off Santo, 40-37, Tuesday night.

Senior Demarius Parks led the Jackets with 17 points and seven rebounds while senior Matt Rosas tossed in 11 points and senior Zade Kendall added eight in the win.

Thanks to district runner-up DeLeon eliminating Hico, 56-29, Tuesday night, Meridian (2-6 in district, 10-20 overall) clinched a postseason berth and will face Seymour in a Class 2A Bi-District playoff game in Minerals Wells Monday at 6 p.m.

“First off, all glory to God. He’s been patient with us,” Meridian boys basketball head coach Carlos Johansson said. “Our boys executed the game plan and fought with every ounce they had.

“When you’re short on players and have to play the whole game, it’s extremely difficult to maintain extreme focus. I am proud that my boys played through exhaustion until the end.”

The Jackets carried a five-point lead into the fourth period, Meridian held off a late Santo rally to secure the win and a playoff spot. Junior Dylan Poole pulled down a team-high eight rebounds and grabbed five steals, Kendall finished with seven boards and four assists, and Rosas dished out three assists while collecting five steals.

In last Friday’s District 10-2A matchups, while Meridian lost 50-46 at Hico (1-7, 11-19), Goldthwaite (8-0, 21-10) wrapped up the district title with a convincing 50-33 victory over DeLeon (6-2, 17-15), while Santo (3-5, 11-19) drew the open date.

Against Hico, Parks turned in a double-double with 17 points and 10 rebounds, followed by Rosas with 14 points, while Kendall contributed 13 points, eight boards and seven assists.

“Tough loss to Hico,” Johansson said. “I thought we played extremely well, both teams actually played really well. We held their best player to just 10 points, which was exactly what we wanted. But Hico’s surrounding players had a great night shooting from the three.

“At the end of the night, we had more boards and fewer turnovers, usually a recipe for a victory. But it just didn’t happen.”

Other Class 2A Bi-District matchups for District 10-2A qualifiers on Tuesday include DeLeon facing Windthorst at 5:30 p.m. in Mineral Wells, Santo taking on Electra at 6 p.m. in Graham, Goldthwaite tips off against Archer City at TBD in Weatherford.

Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS

WIN & OUT: Cubs eliminated in heartbreaker at Whitney; win finale

in Boys Basketball

CLIFTON – After seeing their chances of earning a trip to the postseason for the first time in 15 years slip away last Friday night, the Clifton boys basketball team wrapped up the season with an overwhelming 82-31 road victory over Waco Harmony School of Innovation in the District 17-3A finale Tuesday night.

Senior Everett Sadler led Clifton with a game-high 21 points and six steals, followed by senior TJ Ferch with 15 points, sophomore Alex DeLaHoya with 13 points, junior Cameron Bateson with 10 points and eight rebounds, and senior Seth Williams with six points and eight blocks.

Clifton (6-8 in district, 18-12 overall) finished the season tied for fifth in district with West (6-8, 16-16). In other District 17-3A action Tuesday night, Grandview (14-0, 22-13) wrapped up an undefeated district title with an 84-51 victory at West, Keene (9-5, 15-11) eased past Rio Vista, 63-42, and Whitney (9-5, 13-13) knocked off Maypearl, 41-34. With the loss, Maypearl (9-5, 16-11) finished in a three-way tie for second place with Keene and Whitney.

Facing a do-or-die situation to keep their playoff hopes alive last Friday night, Clifton suffered a heartbreaking 60-58 loss at Whitney as the Wildcats staged a dramatic come-from-behind victory. After leading much of the game, the Cubs missed a last-second baseline out of bounds play to tie the game.

Junior Luis Rodriguez and Ferch led Clifton with 16 points apiece, followed by Sadler with seven, along with sophomore Griffin Phillips and Williams with six each. Junior Cameron Bateson and Ferch pulled down eight rebounds each, while Phillips dished out three assists and Luis Rodriguez came away with three steals.

Friday’s other district results included Grandview crushing Waco Harmony School of Innovation (0-14, 0-17), 70-22, Maypearl rolling over Rio Vista (3-11, 9-21), 55-31, and Keene slipping past West, 51-49.

In the Class 3A Bi-District playoff matchups, 15th-ranked Grandview will battle District 18-3A’s fourth place Eustace, Maypearl tips off against District 18-3A’s runner-up Rice, Whitney faces 16th-ranked District 18-3A champion Malakoff (23-4) at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in Ferris, and Keene takes on District 18-3A’s third place Palmer at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Photos by DAVID HARDING

MAKING HISTORY: Morgan girls capture first playoff win in 50 years

in Girls Basketball

MORGAN – Capturing its first postseason victory since entering the UIL format in the 1960s, the Morgan girls basketball team posted an impressive 47-32 win over the Oglesby Lady Tigers in the Class 1A Bi-District playoff matchup Monday in Hamilton.

Lady Eagle Julie Monroy led Morgan in scoring with 16 points, followed by Nia Aviles with 11 points as well as Amber Bridges and Courtney Sewell with seven points apiece in a winning effort against the co-District 26-1A champion Oglesby.

Despite Morgan enjoying a double-digit lead through most of the contest, the Lady Tigers fought to keep things as close as possible until the end.

“This win was a total team effort,” Morgan girls basketball head coach Juan Ramirez said. “The teams both had an outstanding season.

“The Lady Eagles have not been in the playoffs in a couple of years so their success this season was a result of great upperclassmen leadership. The game was a great contest and was a close match throughout.”

With the Bi-District championship, Morgan advances to take on 15th-ranked Abbott (26-0) in the Area playoffs at 6:30 p.m. Friday in Rio Vista. As district champion, Abbott drew a bye for the Bi-District playoff round. The winner of the Morgan-Abbott matchup will face the Iredell-Chireno winner in the Class 1A Regional Quarterfinals.

Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS

THREE-PEAT: Iredell girls claim third straight District 25-1A title

in Girls Basketball
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IREDELL – After capturing their third consecutive District 25-1A championship, the Iredell Lady Dragon girls basketball team wants to take the next step and avenge last season’s loss in the playoffs.

Drawing a Bi-District playoff bye as the district champion, Iredell (13-1 in district, 21-10 overall) opens the postseason against the 20th-ranked Chireno Lady Owls (25-10) at 6 p.m. Friday in Buffalo. Chireno comes into the game riding the momentum of a dominating 64-21 victory over Coolidge Tuesday in a Class 1A Bi-District matchup.

Last season, the Lady Owls knocked Iredell out of the playoffs with a 46-28 win in the Area playoff round.

“Our upcoming playoff opponent Chireno is very well-coached team, and they should be great playoff matchup,” Iredell girls basketball head coach Jarred Shaffer said. “The girls have been putting in the time to get prepared for this playoff run, and they are eager to get on the floor.”

Although the Lady Dragons posted a dominating district record, not all of the wins came easy.  And in the first round of district, Blum gave Iredell a wake-up call as the Lady Bobcats walked away with a shocking 35-31 overtime win.

“District play was a battle in itself,” Shaffer said. “During the first round of district, we dropped a tough game to very talented and athletic Blum team, so we knew at that point it was time to refocus, get back to the drawing board and get back to where we need to be.”

That’s exactly what the Lady Dragons did, and they have not lost since. Iredell secured the outright district title by avenging their only district loss of the season, edging Blum, 35-33, Feb. 7.

“Throughout the season, our team motto has been ‘It’s not about ME, it’s about US,’ and we have driven home the WE over ME mentality,” Shaffer said. “During this game, the girls truly bought into the mentality and motto, and we came away with a well-deserved win and district championship.”

Shaffer realized this team could be something special in the third game of the season when the Lady Dragons came from behind in the fourth quarter to knock off a strong Class 3A Bruceville-Eddy squad, 57-50. Junior Ali Guereca, the centerpiece to the rally, scored 14 of her season high 29 points in the final period, while junior guard Emily Wellborn handled the ball and orchestrated the attack.

“I was very proud with the way the girls responded to the circumstances and took control of the game,” Shaffer said. “The girls battled through a very tough preseason schedule, playing against mostly Class 2A-4A opponents. During that stretch, there was definitely a ton of growth within the team as the girls started figure out the new system and take on their roles.”

Throughout this season, juniors Guereca, Wellborn and Sage Potter have provided leadership on and off the floor, and Shaffer credits the trio for being “a huge reason for our success thus far.”

“Coming in to this season, I was very eager to see what this group of girls could accomplish down the stretch,” Shaffer said. “We had a very successful season last year and returned all but one player. I am blessed and honored to coach these girls. I cannot wait to see what the future holds for Iredell Lady Dragons basketball.”

Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS

BIDDING ADIEU: Lady Cubs drop finale at home against Maypearl

in Girls Basketball

CLIFTON – With a group of girls playing in their final high school basketball game at home, the Clifton girls basketball team came up short against playoff-bound Maypearl as the Lady Panthers clawed their way to a 56-37 win last Tuesday night in the Clifton High School gymnasium.

Maypearl jumped out to a comfortable 18-9 first quarter lead, then put the Lady Cubs away with a dominating third period by outscoring Clifton, 18-6.

“The girls have shown growth throughout this season,” Clifton girls basketball head coach Whitney Holdbrook said. “That is no different here at the end of the season. They came into practice focused to improve and develop a game plan for our last opponent. This has a hard working group that gives it their best every day.”

Playing with nothing but pride on the line, Clifton (5-9 in district, 14-19 overall) rose to the occasion to dominate Rio Vista, 59-30, snapping a four-game road losing streak Feb. 7. The Lady Cubs jumped out to a commanding 17-5 first quarter lead over the Lady Eagles (2-12, 3-17), then poured in 17 more points in the third quarter to put the game away.

Other district finale matchups last Tuesday included fourth place Whitney edged 19th-ranked district champion Grandview, 50-49, playoff-bound West crushed Rio Vista, 77-42, and Keene (5-9, 10-13) rolled over Waco Harmony School of Innovation (0-14, 1-15).

In Class 3A Bi-District playoff games Monday night, Grandview (12-2, 29-5) knocked off Kemp, 44-27, West (11-3, 27-7) slipped past Corsicana Mildred, 56-51, Maypearl (11-3, 25-7) rolled over Scurry-Rosser, 41-33, and Whitney (10-4, 27-8) lost to Malakoff, 58-51.

With three District 17-3A teams advancing to the Area Playoffs, Maypearl takes on Buffalo at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Grandview faces Little River-Academy Friday, and West plays Franklin (19-4) at 7 p.m. Friday at Riesel.

Photos by DAVID HARDING

PLAYING THEIR HEARTS OUT: Lady Jackets ousted by Goldthwaite

in Girls Basketball

MERIDIAN – With their postseason possibilities hanging in the balance, the Meridian girls basketball team could not overcome 21st-ranked Goldthwaite as District 10-2A’s second place Lady Eagles soared to a impressive 64-38 win in the regular season finale last Tuesday.

Senior Reese Errington scored a team-high 16 points and grabbed seven rebounds while senior Dakota Cassidy tossed in 12 points in the loss. Senior Jada Crawford pulled down a team-high eight rebounds, senior Jalen Clifton dished out four assists and senior Mallory Paruszewski led Meridian (1-7 in district, 15-15 overall) with five steals.

“I’m really going to miss these awesome senior girls,” Meridian girls basketball head coach Jill Kendall said. “They played their hearts out this whole season. They have left some tough shoes to fill. They will be missed.

“I believe that the underclassmen will step up and do great things next year in a better district for us. I’m super proud of all my girls and going to miss all of them.”

In a thrilling nail-biter against third place DeLeon Feb. 7, the Lady Jackets fell just short in the final seconds for a heartbreaking 39-38 loss to the Lady Bearcats.

With the loss to DeLeon (4-4, 15-15), the Lady Jackets needed a victory over district runner-up Goldthwaite (6-2, 25-6) last Tuesday, while fourth place Hico suffered a 36-28 loss to district champion and 20th-ranked Santo (7-1, 22-9) to force a tiebreaker between Hico (2-6, 20-9) and Meridian for the final playoff berth. The Lady Bearcats clinched third place with their win over the Lady Jackets.

Two of the four District 10-2A postseason qualifiers advanced to the Area playoffs with wins in the Bi-District round as Santo got past Quanah, 50-32, and Goldthwaite eliminated Windthorst, 43-35, while Seymour knockout out Hico, 38-32, and Archer City sent DeLeon packing, 46-32.

In the Area Playoffs Friday, 21st-ranked Goldthwaite will face 12th-ranked Muenster (30-4) at 6:30 p.m. in Aledo, while Santo takes on 14th-ranked Era (22-11) at 6:30 p.m. at Chisholm Trail High School.

Photos by WENDY OROZCO & SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS

WIN-AND-IN: Cranfills Gap boys seek first playoff berth since 1991

in Boys Basketball

CRANFILLS GAP – Despite suffering a setback along the way, the Cranfills Gap boys basketball team finds itself one win away from claiming its first Class 1A postseason appearance since 1991.

Facing a do-or-die situation last Friday, the Lions traveled to Jonesboro and shot down the Eagles, 46-18, in a crucial District 17-1A matchup, setting up a “win-and-in” scenario. Cranfills Gap (5-6 in district, 8-10 overall) will host the Evant Elks (5-6, 8-10) today at 6 p.m. in a winner-take-all showdown for third place.

“Cranfills Gap took care of business Friday night at Jonesboro,” Cranfills Gap boys basketball coach Adam Carroll said. “This win set us up for a game with Evant to do something we haven’t done in a long time. We are excited for the opportunity to play for third place in our district and a playoff berth.”

Against Jonesboro, senior Kameron Wiese led all scorers with 16 points, while seniors Gabriel Martinez and Bennie Wright provided solid support.

The Lions began their stretch run toward a playoff berth with a 60-42 victory over Gustine Feb. 7 as Wiese led Cranfills Gap with 18 points and 12 rebounds.

Martinez tossed in 14 points and pulled down a game-high 17 rebounds, while freshman Aiden Doty added eight points, followed by  junior Cason Cox and Wright with seven apiece. Also instrumental in the win, junior Marcus Wright, senior Jose Valdez and sophomore Trenton Roberson provided strong defensive efforts.

“Knowing we needed to win out for a playoff position, we took a big lead early and kept it against Gustine,” Carroll said. “We knew we had a tough task in winning out for a district playoff position, but the boys started off on the right foot by handling Gustine.

“With senior point guard Bennie Wright nursing a sprained ankle, the other boys stepped up. And hopefully, we can carry this momentum against Priddy.”

Unfortunately, Cranfills Gap suffered a heartbreaking 53-52 last second loss to Priddy on Senior Night last Tuesday night. But surprisingly, the loss did not end postseason hopes for the Lions as Wiese led all scorers with 16 points.

“We lost a close one to Priddy on Senior night,” Carroll said. “We weren’t able to make the stop at the end to win. I told the boys if we lost the rebounding and turnover battle, we would have a tough time winning. And that’s what happened.”

Now, it all comes down to the final game of the regular season as Cranfills Gap attempts to avenge its 59-46 loss at Evant during the first round of district play.

While the Lions host Evant, other District 17-1A action Tuesday night includes district champion Cherokee (11-0, 20-2) hosting runner-up Lometa (9-2, 15-6), and Jonesboro (0-11, 1-13) visits Gustine (4-7, 13-13), while Priddy (5-7, 16-13) remains idle after wrapping up its season last Friday.

Photos by SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS

FACING DO-OR-DIE: Cubs fight to keep playoff hopes alive in Whitney

in Boys Basketball

CLIFTON – Facing a do-or-die situation to keep their playoff hopes alive in the District 17-3A race, the Clifton boys basketball team staged a dramatic 42-40 victory over the second place Maypearl Panthers Tuesday night at the Clifton High School gymnasium.

In addition to hitting the game-winning shot with eight seconds on the clock, senior TJ Ferch poured in a game-high 20 points, while junior Luis Rodriguez, along with sophomores Griffin Phillips and Jorge Rodriquez scored six points apiece in the win.