After claiming first district title in 20 years & winning two playoff games, Meridian’s Camron Sheffer shares District 20-1A MVP award, Bernal named defensive MVP, Yellowjacket first-year head coach Schur selected as coach of the year
After dominating the District 20-1A competition to claim their first district championship in 20 years, the Meridian Yellowjackets boys basketball team practically swept the spoils that come with that kind of success.
With All-District 20-1A honors announced last week, Meridian senior Camron Sheffer shared the district’s most valuable player award with Covington senior Isaiah Jennings, Jacket senior John Bernal was named the defensive MVP, while Meridian boys basketball first-year head coach Grant Schur and his staff drew the district’s coach of the year recognition.
“I am very pleased with our all-district selections,” Schur said. “Obviously, I am biased. But it was nice to see that the other coaches in our district felt the same way about our kids that I do. You never know how those meetings will go, but there wasn’t anything that I thought really should have gone a different way. I am just extremely proud of our kids.
In addition to the superlative awards, senior Braxton Allen, senior Brady Taylor and sophomore Jordon Sheffer were named to the all-district, first-team, senior Junior Rodriguez and sophomore Matty Jones were placed on the second team, while senior Dustan Bowers and junior Brayden Wehmeyer drew honorable mention recognition.
“It was an amazing season this year, and I am happy for them to have received the accolades that they greatly deserved,” Schur said. “Our seniors have done an amazing job all year. I am happy they were able to have the success that they did in their last year. I can’t thank them enough for the foundation they have built this year for the future. Collecting two superlatives, three first-team selections, two second-team selections, and two honorable mention selections just exemplifies this team and the year we had.”
After winning their first district title since the 2002-03 Texas high school boys basketball season, the Jackets (22-9) won their first playoff game in 15 years on their way to advancing three rounds deep to the Class 1A, Region III quarterfinals. Facing the 11th-ranked Huckabay Indians (29-6), Meridian’s Cinderella season came to an end with a convincing 64-31 loss in Glen Rose.
“It has been an incredible season,” Schur said. “I hate that it is over and that it ended in the fashion that it did. But Huckabay is dang good team, and we don’t have anything to hang our heads about. We just couldn’t ever get our footing offensively last night. I think defensively we did a solid job for the most part, we just couldn’t ever get in a rhythm offensively.”
Huckabay jumped out to a comfortable 14-7 lead in the first quarter before essentially putting the Jackets away by outscoring Meridian 20-7 in the third period. Bernal led the Jackets with 14 points, Allen pulled down a team-high seven rebounds, and Cameron Sheffer dished out three assists while blocking four shots.
“I am extremely proud of this group of kids,” Schur said. “They have done something special for Meridian this year, and I really believe this will help us start turning things in all of our athletic programs. This senior class has really laid a good foundation for us to build on going forward, and I can’t thank them enough for their work and dedication.
“I want to thank everyone that has supported us throughout the season, and especially in our playoff run. In our three playoff games, it wasn’t even comparable between our crowd and our opponents’ crowd. It has been amazing to see the outpouring of support in the school and in the community.”
After winning its first district championship in 20 years, the Jackets could have easily been satisfied with that historic accomplishment. But they were far from done. Not only did Meridian win their first playoff game since 2008 when an impressive 70-46 victory over the Bluff Dale Bobcats in a Class 1A Bi-District playoff matchup Feb. 21 in Dublin, Meridian convincingly knocked off the Richland Springs Coyotes, 60-40, in an Area playoff clash Feb. 24 in Comanche as an encore.
“Last night was a great game, and huge win not only for our basketball program, but the entire athletic program, the school and the community,” said Schur following the Area playoff win over Richland Springs. “I can’t even describe how awesome the support has been all year, but especially in the last two playoff games. We had another huge crowd last night, and it was an amazing environment to play in.”
Against Richland Springs, the Jackets jumped out to a 20-12 first quarter lead and extend it to a 13-point advantage going into intermission. Richland Springs rallied in the second half, cutting the lead down to nine points early in the fourth quarter. But Meridian responded with a surge down the stretch to secure the second-round playoff victory.
“Richland Springs is a good team and very well coached,” Schur said. “So to win the way we did is a big confidence booster. I really like where we are as a team right now. Obviously, you want to be playing your best this time of year, and I think we are right now.”
Senior John Bernal led the Jackets with 16 points, 11 steals, seven rebounds and four assists, followed by senior Camron Sheffer with a double-double, scoring 10 points and pulling down a game-high 14 rebounds while smashing five blocks. Sophomore Jordon Sheffer also scored in double figures with 13 points, while senior Braxton Allen led Meridian with five assists.
“I thought we played really well for the most part,” Schur said. “We came out better to start the game Richland Springs than we did in the first round against Bluff Dale. I didn’t feel like we had the nerves that we did at the start of that game. I am really proud of the way we kept our composure at that point, and we started attacking offensively and working defensively to pull away.”
In their Bi-District matchup with Bluff Dale (16-11), the Jackets fought hard to earn a two-point lead at the end of the first period. But Meridian outscored the Bobcats, 28-11, to take a commanding 42-23 advantage into intermission before coasting to their first postseason victory in 15 years.
“We are very excited to have gotten a win last night,” Schur said. “I am extremely happy and proud of our kids. I know this was a huge milestone for our kids. Winning a district championship was huge, but getting a playoff victory is an amazing achievement for our kids.
“Bluff Dale came out hot in the first quarter, that was the best I had seen them shoot on film. I can’t even get mad at our defense in the first quarter. They were just making some really good shots. We did a real good job of not letting that change our game plan, or change how we were playing.
“I think there have been times this year, when someone did that to us, that we got a little panicked and started rushing things. But this time, we did good about staying calm and continuing to battle with them.”
Senior Brady Taylor led the Jackets with 17 points, 12 rebounds and four steals, followed by Bernal with 15 points and four steals. Camron Sheffer pulled down a game-high 13 rebounds and Allen dished out five assists while hitting the boards for seven rebounds.
“I think some of our issues in the first quarter were just nerves,” Schur said. “We have two guys that have played in a playoff game, and that was their freshman year. We calmed down in the second quarter, settled into our base things, and really made a good run going into half.
“At halftime, we talked about how we just needed to maintain or extend the lead a little bit in the third. We did exactly what we needed to do in the third. Going into the fourth, we went on a good run to start, and then we managed to work a lot of the clock in the last five minutes. It was an amazing crowd and very exciting to see how they responded.”
Photos by WENDY OROZCO & SIMONE WICHERS-VOSS
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