By BRYAN URBACH
The Grapeland Sandies and the Oakwood Panthers kept their momentums rolling as both teams came away from Friday's Regional Semifinals with victories.
Both teams, now heading to Regional Finals today, look to improve upon their already dominant performances and come out strong in the next round.
Grapeland was able to put a beat down on Tenaha, winning 83-49 in the 3 p.m. matchup. The Sandies started off the first quarter with a 17-9 lead heading into the second quarter. One of the Sandies' bright stars early in the game was Patrick Walker who scored 21 points in the first half.
“It's Patrick's fourth trip here,” Sandies' coach Owen Clifton said. “He's not going to be satisfied with just two wins. I thought he did a great job of controlling the tempo of the game and moving the ball. He was able to find the open man, too, not just score. In the second half when they were keying on him, our other boys stepped up and hit some key shots. Patrick's one of our outright leaders on the team, but we have a lot of role players who stepped up and played well tonight, too. I'm proud of all of them.”
Going into halftime, Grapeland had a 37-23 lead, and things were starting to look like the Sandies had the game under control. Coming out of halftime, the Sandies went on a 32-13 run in the third quarter to put the game out of reach for Tenaha to try to come back into the game.
“We talked at halftime about the fact that Tenaha has been here two years in a row where they've come back from 21 points down in the fourth,” Clifton said. “They weren't going to give up easily, but we just came out and popped them in the mouth. We hit big shots and played great defense.
“I thought one of the biggest momentum swings was when our guys were able to take some charges and steal all of their momentum away from them,” he added.
The Sandies will play at 4 p.m. today again at Tyler Junior College. Clifton said even though they don't know who they will play yet, he expects a tough battle to get to the state tournament.
“Both of these teams (LaPoynor and San Augustine) are great ball clubs. They wouldn't be here if they weren't. It's going to be a tough ballgame either way. We have to get home, get in some practice and get some film in and then come back prepared. We're not satisfied,” Clifton said. “We still have one more at this stage to get.”
Walker finished the game as the lead scorer for the Sandies with 27 points. Jacolby Simpson and William Whitehead also played well, scoring 14 and 11 points respectively.
The Oakwood Panthers traveled to New Braunfels to take on Waelder, winning 105-95.
Oakwood came out scorching as they went on a 30-9 run to complete the first quarter blowout. Even going into halftime, Oakwood had a sizable lead at 54-24.
Coming out of the first half into second half play, Oakwood kept the pressure up and held on to a 29-point lead heading into the fourth quarter at 80-51.
In the fourth quarter, Waelder was able to cut out 19 points of the deficit, but it ultimately wasn't enough as Oakwood went on to win the game 105-95.
With the win, the Panthers advance to the Regional Finals for the first time since the 2002-03 season, behind the shooting of Jacques Anderson who scored 38 points (he had nine three-pointers) and Damiyne Durham who had 24 points.
Oakwood is set to face off against Laneville at 1 p.m. today at Comal Canyon High School in New Braunfels again. The game will be the third time these two teams have met this year. The teams split the first two games at one win a piece.