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Area basketball teams produce memorable season

By Clay Whittington
March 8, 2012 at 11:04 p.m.
Updated March 7, 2012 at 9:08 p.m.

East junior Ramaya Dean sits and watches her teammates run sprints during practice earlier this season. The Lady Titans finished the season with a record of 40-3 and a state tournament berth, the first in the school's short history and first in a girls team sport since 1991.

This was a season of surprises. Unfortunately, not all of them were pleasant.

All across the Crossroads, high school basketball teams experienced the unexpected.

Some overachieved. Some unraveled prematurely. Others witnessed unprecedented performances.

And while some were disappointed once the final buzzer sounded, none can say the 2011-12 season failed to provide memorable moments.

Nobody expected the Hallettsville boys would even sniff a return trip the Class 2A state tournament after losing eight players to graduation and replacing their head coach with the program's freshman team coach.

But the Brahmas not only advanced to the regional tournament for a third consecutive year, defeating state-ranked Van Vleck in the process, they were one free throw away from possibly going to state, losing to San Antonio Cole 53-52 in the regional title game.

Few area boys teams experienced such postseason success, though.

In fact, only four squads advanced beyond the area round. Shiner, Waelder and Nixon-Smiley each saw their season conclude in the regional quarterfinals, while Moulton reached the Class 1A, Division II regional final before being eliminated by Calvert in convincing fashion.

The Bobkatz's district foe Austwell-Tivoli was eliminated in the bi-district round, sending the area player with the most stunning individual showing of the season home.

Redfish senior guard Garek Duenez sent shockwaves through the community by scoring a career-high 53 points in a win against Runge.

Austwell-Tivoli, Yorktown and Cuero, however, all suffered season-ending defeats in their opening playoff game, as did both Industrial teams. The girls repeated as District 26-2A champions only to be stunned immediately following the initial first-round bye.

But the surprising departures did not end there, especially for the girls.

No. 3 Yoakum played just one playoff game in a region it was expected to dominate, losing to Burnet in the area round.

One round later, another perceived powerhouse in Goliad was bounced in overtime after winning the team's first outright district championship since 1985.

Class 2A provided some of the area's strongest performances as state-ranked Schulenburg reached the regional semifinals and Hallettsville and Karnes City both made it to the regional quarterfinals.

Class 1A, Division I Shiner also fell one victory shy of the regional tournament, while Moulton fell just short of reaching the Class 1A, Division II state title game, losing to eventual champion Neches.

Then there is District 30-4A, the area's most prominent display of feast and famine.

While three of the four girls teams to make the postseason played in the regional quarterfinals and beyond, none of the boys teams survived the first round.

District champion Calhoun, Victoria West, Victoria East and Gregory-Portland were all sent home early.

Perhaps nobody was more taken back by the loss than the Titans, who suffered a one-point defeat to San Antonio Burbank following a miss at the buzzer. Earlier in the season, East fans rushed the court at West after the Titans earned the program's first victory over their crosstown rival.

On the opposite side of the coin, the East girls team went on a monumental run, winning 17 consecutive games before having its heart broken by Rockwall in the state semifinals at the Erwin Center.

Along the way, the Titans eliminated district foe Gregory-Portland in the regional quarterfinals and almost encountered Floresville in the regional final.

Instead, East punched its ticket to state by constructing a shocking comeback to upset Cedar Park Vista Ridge by one point, 40-39, after claiming its one and only lead with 10 seconds remaining.

Equally unbelievable, the Titans, who set a VISD record with 40 wins this season, were eliminted after a horrible shooting slump at Austin contributed to an emotional, season-ending defeat.

It was not the ending the Titans expected, but it was the culmination of a year they will never forget.

And that is the beauty of surprises, whether good or bad, they are always memorable.

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

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