NEW SEASON, NEW COACH

in Boys Basketball

With third new head coach in the last three seasons, Meridian Yellowjackets continue to build program heading into first season playing Class 1A basketball

Despite taking the court for the 2022-23 Texas high school boys basketball season with their third new head coach in the last three years, the Meridian Yellowjackets appear armed and ready to make their presence felt during Meridian’s first campaign playing Class 1A hoops.

After losing their season opener, the Jackets have won three straight games, earning their first win of the season by defeating the Frost Polar Bears, 61-42, at home Nov. 15 before dominating the Hico Tigers, 54-19, on road, Nov. 18, and Cornerstone Christian Academy, 72-47, at home Tuesday night in Yellowjacket Gymnasium. With momentum coming out of having 11 days off for Thanksgiving capturing another win, the Jackets (3-1) will hit the road to play in the Moody Tournament Thursday-Saturday, Dec. 1-3.

“I am very pleased with where we are at as a team four games into the season,” said Meridian boys basketball’s first-year head coach Grant Schur, who replaced Devin Brooks after only one season. “We are definitely playing a different style of basketball than Meridian was playing last year, but Coach Brooks did a great job with these kids last year. We wouldn’t be able to do the things we are doing so far this season if he didn’t have the foundation already in.”

Against Frost, the Jackets jumped out to an 18-10 first period lead and outscored the Polar Bears in every quarter on the way to Meridian’s first victory of the season. Senior Braxton Allen led the Jackets with 13 points and 11 rebounds, followed by senior John Bernal and sophomore Matty Jones with nine each, while senior Camron Sheffer added eight points and 11 rebounds.

Making it two wins in a row, Meridian dominated Hico from the opening tipoff by storming to a 23-7 lead in the first quarter and never looking back. In fact, the Jackets blanked the Tigers, 17-0, in the third period to put the game away.

Bernal led Meridian with 13 points and 10 steals, followed by Jones with 11 points, nine steals and three assists, while sophomores Noah Alvizo and Jesus Martinez pulled down seven rebounds each.

“The last two games we have done a lot of really good things,” Schur said. “There are plenty of things we need to work on and get better at. But I am pleased with where we are as a team going into Thanksgiving break. Our attitudes and work ethic are amazing. You can feel the sense in them that they are willing to do whatever it takes to win games. In the first game against Moody, I think we let the moment get a little too big for us for a stretch in the third quarter. And since then, we have really grown up a lot as a team.”

In the season opener at Moody, the Jackets battled in the first half, but let the game get away from them in the third period, losing to the Bearcats, 50-38, Nov. 11. Jones led Meridian with 12 points and three steals, while Sheffer tossed in 10 points and pulled down a team-high eight rebounds.

“Obviously, I am always disappointed when we don’t win,” Schur said. “But I thought we did a lot of really good things to start the season. They hit a half court buzzer beater right before halftime to go up 23-18. I think that gave them a little momentum going into the second half and carried them into the third quarter.

“Our kids really played hard the entire game. And even though it ended up a 12-point game, it never felt like we were out of it. Outside of a little stretch in the third quarter when we kind of let it get away from us, we played really well defensively. And offensively, we just missed some shots that as the season goes on we will start making more of.

“I was really proud of our effort and the way we played even when things weren’t going our way. Overall, I am very excited about this season and what I believe we can do.”

Schur grew up in Vernon and graduated from Vernon High School in 2008 before playing college football at Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene. Returning to his hometown for his first year as a coach, Schur left to coach two years at Winters before returning to Vernon for a four-year stint.

Moving to Itasca to work for athletic director and football head coach Jim Kerbow in 2021, Schur decided to follow Kerbow to Meridian this year. In his fifth season as a head basketball coach, Schur has served as a football defensive coordinator for six seasons, and a head track coach for seven years.

“Obviously, my relationship with Coach Kerbow played a part in me coming to Meridian,” Schur said. “But watching our kids compete last year in basketball and in track from the other side really showed me what kind of place this can be.

“We have a bunch of great kids that work really hard, they act right, and want to be successful. The community is extremely supportive and want the same things we do. Meridian is a great place to live, work, and send my daughter to school. I am greatly appreciative for the opportunity to be here and teach and coach these kids.”

Photos by WENDY OROZCO

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