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Industrial looks to sweep district basketball titles again

Feb. 6, 2012 at 11:02 p.m.
Updated Feb. 6, 2012 at 8:07 p.m.

Industrial senior point guard Alan Fellers runs through passing drills with a teammate during practice on Monday. The Industrial boys basketball team need three wins to have a chance at repeating as district champions.

CLAY WHITTINGTON, PREP HOOPS :: Winning a district championship is hard.

Doing it in consecutive years is twice as difficult.

Having two teams at the same school repeat simultaneously is rare, but Industrial is on the verge of achieving the feat.

The Cobras and Lady Cobras both earned district basketball titles in 2011, combining to go 19-1 against their District 26-2A competition.

This season, outside of their records, little has changed.

After going 9-1 last season, the Lady Cobras are in position to earn their first undefeated district championship since 1991, while the Cobras, who went 10-0 in district last season, can finish with a 9-1 record and clinch a share of the district title if they win out.

With just four regular season games left between the squads, Industrial has an opportunity to leave a permanent mark on its current district while opening eyes in its new one.

The recent UIL realignment relocated Industrial to District 30-2A for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons, where it will be joined by Aransas Pass, Goliad, Palacios and Refugio, as well as, current rivals Bloomington, Edna and Tidehaven.

And when Industrial arrives in its new district, it plans to bring more than just hardware with it. The basketball program intends to carry in a level of intimidation.

"It is good to leave the old district by dominating the last two years," Cobras head coach Rusty Roe said. "People (in the new district will) look at us and say, 'They are the district champions. They are the team to beat.'"

Before establishing itself as the program to beat, however, the Cobras must win three consecutive road games, including the regular season finale at No. 14 Van Vleck - the team responsible for the only blemish on the boys' district record.

On Jan. 27, the Leopards used a long 3-pointer at the buzzer to defeat Industrial 52-50 in overtime on its home court, moving into sole possession of the district's top record in the process.

The shot still haunts the Cobras.

"You could hear a pin drop," Roe said of the final 3-pointer.

"My head just went blank," senior forward Johnny Tseng added. "I was amazed."

Although they are still battling the ramifications of the loss, the Cobras (20-7, 6-1) appear to have rebounded, winning the two games since by a combined 35 points.

Senior Alan Fellers credits his team's collective resolve for the successful season.

"It is mental toughness," the point guard said. "We are more disciplined than a lot of teams and that is because we are a defensive-minded team.

"We don't have a lot of offensive flare, but we keep the score down enough where, if we execute, we can win the game."

After winning the first outright boys' district championship since 1991, the Cobras are shooting for the team's first repeat title under Roe.

"I honestly don't know if we've ever done that," the coach said. "Winning back to back district championships, it is difficult."

Especially under vastly different senior leadership.

Four Cobras graduated after last season, but five players have moved into their positions, and all five have been on varsity since their sophomore seasons.

The approach remains the same, though.

"We have to have a team philosophy at Industrial," Roe said, citing the small-city school has a limited talent pool. "When they play together, it is hard to beat five who play as one."

It is a concept the Lady Cobras are all too familiar with.

Ranked 24th in the current Class 2A poll, the Lady Cobras (24-4, 9-0) can go undefeated to win district for the first time in 21 years with a victory at Boling Tuesday evening.

"It hasn't been pretty at all times, it hasn't been a bunch of blowouts, but every game they've stepped up and had different people play big roles," Lady Cobras head coach Brandon Karl said. "We just find ways to win."

Having clinched their second consecutive district championship with a win against Bloomington last week, the team is focused on concluding the regular season in style.

"For us to bring back the (winning) tradition to Industrial, it feels really good knowing that we can start it off again," senior guard Kenzie Turk said.

In addition to taking pride in his own team's success, Karl is pleased to see the boy's basketball program thrive as well.

Karl spent four years as an assistant under Roe before taking over the girl's program.

"A lot of what we do, I learned from him," Karl said. "That was my first basketball coaching job. We are big fans for each other.

"It is exciting around here when both squads are doing well. There is nothing better than if we can both win district."

Clay Whittington is a sports writer for the Victoria Advocate. Contact him at 361- 580-6507 or cwhittington@vicad.com, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com.

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