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