By CLINT FOSTER
ALEDO – After powering through the first two rounds of the postseason with wins by five and two points, the Millsap Bulldogs' thrilling run through the Region II-2A playoffs came to an abrupt end Monday night.
Droves of Bulldog faithful clad in maroon and novelty bow ties packed Aledo's Bearcat Gymnasium, easily outnumbering the fans of the storied Ponder Lions. But loud as they barked, Millsap's fans could not lift their boys past the regional quarterfinals as the Bulldogs fell to the Lions, 65-43.
With the win, the four-time state champion Lions will advance to the regional semifinals to face the winner of Lone Oak and New Boston, while the Bulldogs are left to reflect on the accomplishments of this year and look to continue to build next year.
Millsap's bow-tie-sporting head coach, Josh Jones, said he could not have been more proud of his team after the game.
"You look at a group of young men that have come from three wins two years ago and six wins last year to being in the regional quarterfinals; that's a huge testament to them and what they've been willing to sacrifice to accomplish," said Jones, whose fashion sense and coaching has inspired a town full of bow-tie-garbed fans.
"Ponder is a fantastic team. If there's a better 2A team in the state of Texas, I'd like to see who they are. They executed. We got a little hurried offensively in the first half and the third quarter and just weren't able to do the things we wanted to do in order to be successful."
Millsap struggled to find an answer to Ponder's aggressive press defense that forced turnovers and propelled the Lions to a 13-0 lead to start the game. While the Bulldogs struggled to get their shots to fall, Ponder was lethal from three-point range and used a 13-1 run to build a 34-13 halftime lead. Try as they might, Millsap could not claw back within striking distance.