Mineral Wells Index
By CLINT FOSTER
GRAFORD – Take a trip to just about any dog racing track around the world and you’ll find a pack of athletic greyhounds chasing a stuffed rabbit around the circuit. But for the Greyhounds of Throckmorton, there was no catching the Graford Jackrabbits, Friday night.
In a clash of Top 10, Class A basketball titans, the No. 4 Graford Jackrabbits downed the sixth-ranked Throckmorton Greyhounds, 71-60, in front of a packed and electric home crowd. With the win, the Runnin’ Rabbits moved to 21-2 on the season, remaining alone at the top of the District 11-1A-2 standings at 6-0 and extending their three-year home winning streak by yet another game.
It was an extremely fast-paced and physical game, with both teams aggressively pushing the ball down the court all game long. Graford was able to hold its own against another one of Class 1A’s best and never trailed for four quarters.
Like heavyweight fighters, both teams exchanged jabs for the first frame, as Graford edged out an early 15-13 lead. But the Jackrabbits quickly caught fire in the second half and took a 13-point lead into the locker room.
As the third quarter began, it became clear that Graford’s district rivals would not lie down on the road. Spurred by opportunistic defense and some clutch shooting, the Greyhounds assembled a 16-6 run to cut the Graford lead to five, only to watch the Jackrabbits build another commanding, double-digit lead.
But yet again, the ‘Hounds made a push in the fourth quarter, bringing themselves within two in the game’s waning minutes. But Graford answered back with a 16-6 run of their own to close out the game and send Throckmorton home with the loss.
“It was just a real tough game,” Graford head coach Ty Tabor said. “They’re used to winning and they weren’t going to lie down. We let it be too much of a game in the second half, I thought, but (Throckmorton) is a good team.
“What we want to see is that we don’t lose our head, we stay cool, we don’t panic. Even though we let them make the push, it was good to see how we responded and pushed back.”
The Jackrabbits’ wealth of weapons were on full display with four players scoring in double figures: Lucas Simmons, Quinten Tabor, Dylan Hart and Petr Vopinka. Simmons led the team with 19 points – including a perfect 2-for-2 from the charity strip – and added a rebound, two assists and three steals.
“It was a good win,” he said. “(The atmosphere) was awesome. It really gets your energy up. I was really in the zone tonight. Just trying to help my team get the win.”
Although Hart was third in scoring, he came closest to sniffing a double-double, with 11 points, eight rebounds, three assists and two steals. Vopinka and Tabor were also forces in the paint, with Vopinka posting five rebounds, a steal and a block to go along with his 13 points and Tabor grabbing seven boards to go along with three assists, a steal and 12 points.
Also scoring were Paul Packheiser with seven points (six rebounds, one assist, one block), Luis Conde Fernandez with four points (three rebounds, two assists), Hunter Lewis with three points and Tanner Hargrove with two points (one rebound).
With the hurdle of the Throckmorton win under their belt, Tabor said the ‘Rabbits can finally start focusing on closing out the season strong and scouting potential playoff foes.
“We haven’t outright won the district championship yet,” he said. “We’ve got a two-game lead with three games left. So, we need to take care of business and go ahead and win district.
“But definitely, at this point, we can start looking ahead to the playoffs a little bit and start thinking about opponents.“
Earlier Friday night, the Graford Lady Rabbits defeated Throckmorton, 46-23, as Morgan Hendershott led GHS with 13 points.
Also scoring for the Lady Rabbis were Katie Rochelle with 10 points, Kyndze Pendergraft with nine, Ashley Hay with eight, Amanda Francis with four and Sydney Wimberly with two.