By TONY EIERDAM
It’s the “second season” for the Mineral Wells Rams basketball team as the Class 3A playoffs begin today.
The Rams, the third-place team from District 6-3A, will face the Wichita Falls Hirschi Huskies, the second seed from District 5-3A, in the Class 3A, Region I bi-district playoffs at 6 p.m,. today at Bridgeport High School.
Hirschi will be designated as the “home” team, and the Rams will be designated as the “visitors.”
The Rams lost three district games in a row before defeating Lake Worth in the league finale to secure the third seed. Rams head coach Aaron Pappas hopes the win has righted the Rams’ ship.
“Our win against Lake Worth got us back on the right track,” Pappas said. “I feel our past playoff experience should have our kids feeling confident going into the playoffs.”
Hirschi is coming off a loss in its district finale to state-ranked No. 9 Burkburnett, the 5-3A champion.
But Hirschi probably gained confidence in the Burkburnett game as the Huskies led 49-42 going into the fourth quarter. Burkburnett rallied with 25 points in the final stanza to escape with a 67-61 win.
Hirschi (15-11) finished 5-3A play with a 6-2 record, losing twice to Burkburnett, including a 64-47 defeat on Jan. 24 the first time the Huskies and Bulldogs met.
Hirschi is led offensively by Terrence Cooper, who averages 12.5 points per game, followed by Torrence Cooper with 10.8 points per contest.
The Huskies are known for their pressure defense and up-temp offense.
“Hirschi is a very quick, athletic team,” Pappas said. “They apply a lot of pressure defensively to the ball and pressure the passing lanes very well.
“They are very aggressive on the boards and can push the ball in transition.”
Pappas said limiting turnovers is paramount for the Rams, and he added that his team needs to be physical underneath the basket and on the perimeter.
“We will have to be very good on the offensive end of the floor and try to take advantage of their aggressiveness,” he said. “We can do that by constantly moving the ball from side to side, and not turning the ball over to them.
“We are going to have to do a good job of putting a body on them and blocking them out, and we will have to keep them out of the middle and not let them penetrate.
“They like to run dribble-drive and get into the paint.
“We must not let them. They also shoot the three well and we have got to contest every shot and not give them open looks.
“It is going to be tough task, but I believe our kids are up for the challenge.”
The winner of the game will advance to the area round and play the winner of the Burnet/Venus bi-district playoff game.