By TONY EIERDAM
What a difference a week makes.
Last week at this time, the Mineral Wells Rams basketball team was hoping to win one of two games during the week, including a game against a team they had already beaten, in an attempt to tie Springtown for second place.
In addition to the needed win, the Rams also needed Springtown to lose to Kennedale, which it did on Friday.
But the Rams fell to state-ranked No. 2 Kennedale a week ago and needed to defeat Castleberry on Friday to stay with the Porcupines. That did not happen.
The Rams appeared well on their way to a victory over Castleberry when they scored 31 points in the first quarter and held a seven-point lead at the half.
But Castleberry came back – with the help of MWHS missed free throws and untimely, late turnovers – to win the game in overtime.
Now the Rams need to beat Lake Worth in a game that tips off at 8 p.m. today to secure third place and the third seed from District 6-3A in the playoffs. The top four teams from each district qualify for the 3A playoffs.
The game will be the district finale for both teams. In their first meeting with the Bullfrogs, the Rams defeated Lake Worth, 68-54, despite trailing 11-0 to begin the game.
It will also be a big game for Lake Worth as they can tie Castleberry for the fourth and final playoff spot with a win over the Rams combined with a Springtown win over the Lions.
Should the Rams lose to Lake Worth and Castleberry defeat Springtown, MWHS and the Lions would have to play a third-place tiebreaker game on Friday.
“Needing to get out of a three-game losing skid and secure third, I told our guys that this game is a must win situation and they have to forget about the past three games and focus on the task ahead of us,” Rams head coach Aaron Pappas said. “I told them Lake Worth is also in a must win situation as well, and we should expect to get their best effort tomorrow night on their home court.
“I would expect Lake Worth to be more aggressive on both ends of the floor, and the only way to win is to match their aggression.
“We have not lived up to our expectations, and if we do not come together as a collective unit and put forth maximum effort tomorrow night we will be in for a fight.”