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Hallettsville drawing more attention with each win

By BY MIKE FORMAN - MFORMAN@VICAD.COM
Feb. 28, 2013 at 10:02 p.m.
Updated Feb. 27, 2013 at 8:28 p.m.

Hallettsville's Reid Leopold gets a hug from his cousin, cheerleader and Hallettsville junior Morgan Mitchon, after the Brahmas defeated the Van Vleck Leopards 71-44 Tuesday night in their Class 2A regional quarterfinal game at Victoria East.

Hallettsville won the District 28-2A championship but entered the postseason unranked in the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches state poll.

For the most part, the Brahmas went unnoticed this season.

The Brahmas were coming off their third straight regional final appearance after advancing to the state tournament in 2010 and 2011.

But Hallettsville also had its third head coach in four years and only one senior starter returning from last season.

"They lost an outstanding player in Trevor McGee," said first-year coach Scott Cottenoir. "We started four underclassmen, including two sophomores, and our first player off the bench is a sophomore. But the thought here is we're not rebuilding; we're reloading."

Hallettsville has become impossible to ignore after running away with a 71-44 regional quarterfinal win over No. 15 Van Vleck on Tuesday night.

The Brahmas (24-8) earned their fourth straight trip to the regional tournament and will meet No. 11 Aransas Pass (32-7) in a semifinal game Friday at 6 p.m. at the Seguin High School gym.

"This is a young team so I think we've still got our best basketball in front of us," Cottenoir said. "If we continue to play at a fast pace, the sky is the limit. Our young guys are going to continue to get better."

Cottenoir took over when Stephen Davis left after taking Hallettsville to the regional final last season.

Davis replaced Rich Dozier, who led Hallettsville to back-to-back state tournament appearances.

Cottenoir was the girls coach at Dimmitt in the Panhandle last season and had originally applied for the girls position at Hallettsville.

His previous experience coaching boys was as an assistant at Pearland for one season.

"Ninety percent of my coaching experience is with girls," Cottenoir said. "But I knew the coach at Idalou (which beat Hallettsville in overtime of the 2011 state semifinal), and I talked to him about the position.

"We are still doing a lot of the same things with my own little spin. We are doing a few new things on offense, and it's seemed to work out well."

Aransas Pass will have a height advantage with 6-foot-10 Joel Gentry and 6-4 Hunter Isom.

William Butler, a 6-1 guard/forward, scored 27 points and Isom had 20 in the Panthers' 73-52 regional quarterfinal win over Universal City Randolph.

Aransas Pass is making its first regional appearance since 2009 when it was a Class 3A team. The Panthers last made the state tournament as a 3A team in 2007.

"Aransas Pass plays really good defense," Cottenoir said. "They run a diamond press, and they move really well."

The Brahmas did a good job of preventing Van Vleck from getting the ball into the post, and they hope to do the same against Aransas Pass.

"We feel like our guards have an advantage over theirs in size," Cottenoir said. "We want to keep our hands in their face to keep them from getting a clean look."

Hallettsville's Jamario Grounds, Dazaun Silgero, Trent McGee and Dalton Herrington scored in double figures against Van Vleck, which is hard not to notice.

"These guys really enjoy being around each other and have a lot of fun," Cottenoir said. "You can tell they know what they want to accomplish."

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