By CLINT FOSTER
The 2013-14 season epitomized growth for the Mineral Wells Rams basketball team. Under the tutelage of head coach Aaron Pappas, the Rams played to a 6-4 record in District 6-3A, clinching a third place finish and a fourth-straight playoff appearance.
The season culminated in a controversial first-round playoff exit at the hands of the Wichita Falls Hirschi Huskies in Bridgeport. The Rams' 63-62 loss was called into question after Mineral Wells' coaches concluded – through an exhaustive film study – that the Huskies were credited with two points they never scored.
A sour end to the season was just one of many hardships the Rams had to endure. The loss of athletic senior DaShawn Hicks to a season-ending injury in late-December was a significant blow. At the time, Hicks was one of the team's leading scorers and a team captain.
"DaShawn was our leader on the floor," Pappas said. "Losing him hurt us more than most people know. He just could not be replaced."
Mineral Wells lost two of its last three regular season games in winnable contests against rivals Springtown and Castleberry. The losses meant the Rams would not achieve their goal of finishing second in 6-3A, but Pappas said those lumps and the postseason loss to Hirschi will only make the Rams stronger for next season.
"I think we gained alot of valuable experience this season that will carry over into next season," he said. "Losing to Hirschi in the first round of the playoffs was very disappointing, because we felt like we had our opportunities to win that game and did not take advantage.
"We will be returning the nucleus of our team next season, and the future looks bright. The most important factor going into next season is that we play as a unit and have confidence in each other to do what is best for the team. We need to set our goals and expectations higher and do whatever it takes to achieve those goals."