By TONY EIERDAM
There is good news and bad news concerning the Mineral Wells Rams basketball team.
The good news is that for the second year in a row under the guidance of head coach Aaron Pappas the Rams have reached the Class 3A playoffs.
The bad news is the Rams’ playoff opponent in state-ranked No. 16 Burkburnett, a team that defeated MWHS 85-54 in a non-district game on Jan. 8.
The Rams are 17-16 overall and finished the District 6-3A schedule with a respectable 7-3 mark. However, the Rams fell last week in a second-place tiebreaker game to Springtown as MWHS assumes the third seed from the district in the playoffs.
Burkburnett, the second-place team from District 5-3A, is 22-9 and fell twice to 5-3A champion Wichita Falls Hirschi, ranked No. 8 in Class 3A.
Last year the Rams were in the same boat but defeated then No. 6 Burkburnett in the area championship game. But Burkburnett has reloaded, while the Rams will be without three starters – three major cogs – from the 2012 team that upset the Bulldogs.
“Playing them once has its advantages,” Pappas said. “We have seen them and we know what to expect.
“We didn’t play well (Friday) against Springtown, but we have to move on from that and keep plugging away.
“We tell the kids if they want to be an elite program they have to beat teams like Burkburnett, and this is a tough region. To go two or three rounds deep in this region would be a good run.
“If we can do that we can establish ourselves as an elite program in this area.”
Burkburnett has two players – Elijah Strickland and Chavaz Jackson – each averaging 20 points per game. Strickland has also canned an area-high 110 three-pointers.
A third scorer, Arthur Hamlett, averages 11 points per contest. On the boards, posts Justin Bell and Matt Everson each average 8.1 rebounds per game.
Burkburnett also plays “in-your-face” defense that forces many turnovers, but it can be exploited as the Bulldogs average giving up 69 points per contest.
In the only meeting between these two teams, Burkburnett came back from an 8-3 deficit with a 12-0 run to take a 15-8 lead. Burkburnett ended up scoring 45 points in the first half and went on a 28-8 run in the third period to put the game away.
“We are not going to play them much different, but we will take care of the basketball better than we did the first time we played them,” Pappas said. “We need to limit our turnovers and play better defense.
“We want to take our time on offense and look for good shots, but at the same time if we break the press we can have some opportunities to score in transition.
“But overall on offense, we want to take quality shots and not quantity of shots.
“Burkburnett is not near as big or physical as they were last year (when they were ranked No. 6 in the state before the playoffs), but they are quicker and a little bit more athletic.
“They also shoot the three better than any team in the area. If they start hitting threes, it will be hard for us to play any kind of zone.”
Pappas plans to begin the game in a man-to-man defense to prevent the Bulldogs from getting hot from the outside.
But if Burkburnett starts giving the Rams trouble inside Pappas said he would have to switch defenses.
“We want to try and establish our man defense,” he said. “But if we get mismatches in man defense we may have no other choice but to switch to a zone.”
By TONY EIERDAM
- Local Sports
Lady Rams draw Graham in first round playoff series
The regular season is in the rearview mirror and, as head coach David Tarver expected, the Mineral Wells Lady Rams will play a best-of-three series with the Graham Lady Blues to start the Class 3A, Region 1 and 3 softball playoffs.
With the score tied at four and one out in the bottom of the seventh inning, Tuesday night at Pratt Field, sophomore McCain Mason stepped up to bat with the bases loaded.
Santo girls place eighth at regional golf tourney
BAIRD – The Santo Ladycats golf team ended their season on a positive note last week, battling the elements to play some of their best golf of the season en route to an eighth place finish at the Region 2-1A Tournament at Shady Oaks Golf Course in Baird.
Graford Track: two 'Rabbits race to regionals
TRENT – The Graford boys and girls track teams were in action, Thursday, at the area track meet in Trent, where two Jackrabbits qualified to advance to the regional round in two different events.
Rams earn district championship with 5-4 walkoff win over Castleberry on senior night
For the third time in the past four years, the Mineral Wells Rams are district champions.
Rams host Castleberry with first place at stake
It all comes down to this. The Mineral Wells Rams' district championship dreams rest on their final District 6-3A game against the Castleberry Lions.
Wildcats still in the hunt
SANTO – The Santo Wildcats baseball team took a major step toward a possible district championship, Saturday, when they handed the Albany Lions their first district loss of the season in a 13-5 victory.
MW golf seasons end at regionals
LUBBOCK – The District 6-3A champion Mineral Wells Rams and Lady Rams golf teams saw their seasons come to an untimely end last week at the Region 1-3A tournaments on Shadow Hills Golf Course in Lubbock.
How sweet it is
The Mineral Wells Rams have climbed another mountain. After besting Kennedale for the first time in over a decade on their home field in the last week of March, the Rams (16-10, 7-2) swept their season series with the vaunted Wildcats, earning a 6-2 win in front of a home crowd, Friday night, to once again put themselves alone atop the District 6-3A standings with one game left to play.
Kennedale edges out Lady Rams, 3-0, on senior night
The Lady Rams wanted this one. Bad. But despite a brilliant defensive effort that kept the game locked at 1-0 until the final frame, the Mineral Wells Lady Rams found themselves so close, yet so far away from a district championship, falling to the second-ranked team in the state, the Kennedale Wildcats, for the second time this year, 3-0, Friday night.
- More Local Sports Headlines
- Lady Rams draw Graham in first round playoff series