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Brahmas seek to justify No. 1 ranking

By MIKE FORMAN
Nov. 17, 2010 at 5:17 a.m.

Christian Wood-Dvorak shoots a free throw during the semifinal playoff game against Ponder last season. Hallettsville  is starting the season as the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches top ranked team.

Milestone AheadHallettsville coach Rich Dozier will be seeking career win No. 200 when the Brahmas open the season Friday night at La Grange. Dozier has a career record of 199-103. Dozier begins his fifth season at Hallettsville with a 109-28 record. He previously coached for 10 seasons at Medina.

HALLETTSVILLE - Hallettsville made its first appearance at the regional and state basketball tournaments last season, but coach Rich Dozier knows there's no guarantee the Brahmas will go again this season.

"God bless Santa Rosa, but the look on their faces last year when the game was over," Dozier said. "They knew how much fun it was to get to the state tournament and they lost that game in the regional semis. It truly hurt and I could see it in their faces. It's going to be something that's going to stick in my mind and make sure that my players know that we don't want that look."

Hallettsville returns four senior starters from a team that went 36-2 and advanced to the Class 2A state semifinals last season before losing 72-56 to eventual state champion Ponder.

The Brahmas enter the season ranked No. 1 in the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches poll and expectations are high.

"We don't want to let anybody down and we want to give it our best all the time," said point guard Camp Dozier. "Being No. 1 right now, I don't think anybody sees it as a big deal. We're almost the same team as last year and we'll be working hard no matter what rank we are."

Hallettsville saw how tenuous success can be during the offseason.

Dante Haynes, an all-state guard, tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee triple jumping.

The misfortune continued during football season when Christian Wood-Dvorak, Mr. Basketball in Class 2A, suffered a second-degree shoulder separation, and reserve post Anthony Vesely broke his collarbone.

All three have been cleared to play and should be on the court when the Brahmas open the season Friday at La Grange.

"All these kids are extremely hard workers," Rich Dozier said. "Everything is just a temporary setback. You never want to get a kid hurt, but Dante's worked so hard and he's totally rededicated himself."

The Brahmas have felt the same urgency since leaving the Erwin Center in Austin after losing to Ponder.

"We worked really hard last year and really hard in the summer at a lot of team camps and stuff," said forward Clayton O'Neill. "I think we're ready for it. We can't take anything for granted. We have to stay with it and keep working just as hard as last year."

The biggest improvement Rich Dozier would like to see from his team is in its shooting.

"If we're going to focus on anything this year, it is going to be shooting," he said. "We shot 50 percent as a team last year and that wasn't good enough to beat Ponder.

"We're going to keep pushing, we're going to keep running, we're going to keep being a team making that extra pass and do all the fun things that we do, but we're going to spend a little bit extra time everyday putting that ball in the hole."

The Brahmas will still press and play an up-tempo style, which places a premium on developing depth.

Senior Logan Goode and junior Trevor McGee played key roles off the bench last season, and Rich Dozier is also counting on Vesely, a junior, and senior Jordan Jackson.

"At our style of play and as fast as we go we have to have a bench," Rich Dozier said. "I think we're eight solid. I think I could trade out any eight and still be really solid. Can I develop a ninth and a 10th? I sure hope so. But that is my goal."

Hallettsville's ultimate goal is to be No. 1 at the end of the season.

To win a state championship the Brahmas will have to negotiate a challenging schedule before getting through a rugged District 28-2A that includes Hempstead, which handed Hallettsville its other loss last season.

"I had to deal with that when I was making the schedule," Rich Dozier said. "Do you schedule games you can win so you can keep it or do you schedule games to make you better?

"We have a monster schedule this year. We will lose games and we will be knocked out of No. 1 and I will have to deal with parents and community. But what a great thing that is to deal with. And we will be practicing for Hempstead, starting today."

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