By TONY EIERDAM
RIVER OAKS – For three quarters Tuesday night in a District 6-3A contest at Castleberry High School, the Castleberry Lions shot the three well and ran its offense almost to perfection as they carved out a 54-33 lead over the heavily-favored Mineral Wells Rams.
The Lions had stunned the Rams with 27 first-quarter points – thanks in part to hitting their first five three-pointers – and with the Rams scoring just eight points in the first eight minutes a 27-8 lead, which grew into a 47-18 lead early in the third quarter, seemed insurmountable as the upset appeared more than just likely.
And leading by 21 points as the game moved to the fourth quarter, Castleberry would certainly chew time off the clock in the fourth in an effort to secure the win.
Considering all of that, if Castleberry would score just a mere eight points in the final period the Rams would have to score 29 points to tie the contest, which under the circumstances even the most optimistic of Rams’ fans would understand that winning this game was a near impossible task.
Castleberry did score exactly eight points in the final stanza, but the Rams, employing a smothering press and half-court trap, forced turnovers and scored 32 in the period to come away with an improbable yet exhilarating 65-62 win to stay alone in second place in 6-3A.
“I told the kids (between the third and fourth period break) that we need to score 30 in the fourth to win the game,,” an exhausted Rams head coach Aaron Pappas said moments after the game. “I thought the kids did a great job defensively in the second half – getting stops and rebounding the ball – and in my coaching career that is one of the biggest comebacks I have experienced.
“It was a great win for us. But my hat is also off to Castleberry. They had a great game plan. They ran a triangle-and-two defense and got on our two best scorers (Biren Clardy and Nick Wendt).