By BRYAN URBACH
FAIRFIELD – Just about everybody in the city of Grapeland was on hand for the Sandies’ 88-70 win against Kerens on Tuesday night in the Regional Quarterfinals.
The Sandies (31-4) came out on fire shooting-wise and never let up. After a lackluster shooting performance against Martin’s Mill in the opening round of play for them, the Sandies shot much better in their second game against the Wildcats.
Grapeland coach Owen Clifton said after the game he enjoyed the improvement that the Sandies made from the previous game, and he said he would like to continue seeing that type of performance.
“You know, we shot the ball so much better,” Clifton said. “We’ve been in a slump for the past two games. We shot the ball so much better, we moved the ball and we played a lot better defense. We still have a ways to go and some things we have to get better at, but I was really proud of the effort they gave tonight. And hey, any time you get to go to the Regional Tournament, that’s always something special.
“For the seniors, this is their fourth trip,” he added. “So that’s something special for them.”
The Sandies went into the locker room at halftime with a sizeable lead at 43-31, and after halftime, they came out with the same fire that they went in with. Grapeland stayed on that hot streak and outscored Kerens 29-18 in the third quarter to increase their lead to 72-49 heading into the final frame.
“Our ability to play team basketball shows just how much work they’ve put in, in the offseason,” Clifton said. “It shows how much they’re always in the gym and how they’re always in there shooting. They’re always getting better and better. They’ve played with each other forever. When we play like we did tonight, we’re hard to guard. It was a great team effort tonight, especially when we had guys coming off the bench coming in and contributing. No one cares who gets the glory, we just want the win.”
High scorers for the Sandies were Patrick Walker who scored a team-high 24 points and had three rebounds, Jacolby Simpson who had 22 points and 10 rebounds and William Whitehead who had 12 points and five rebounds.
The Sandies next game is against Tenaha on Friday at Tyler Junior College at 3 p.m.