SUGAR LAND — The Grapeland High School boys' basketball team typically plays a rough non-district schedule.
There have been seasons when that's knocked the Sandies out of the top-5 in the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches Conference 2A rankings.
But, not so during the 2018-19 campaign — and Grapeland currently stands at No. 5 in the ratings released this past Monday. The Sandies opened the season in the top-five, too.
“It's nice to be recognized, and I am confident where we are,” said Grapeland head coach Cannon Earp. “We've been able to hold steady.”
Now several games into the District 20-2A slate, Grapeland is undefeated at 7-0 with Lovelady in second spot (6-1) and Slocum and Groveton are fighting for the third and fourth playoff spots with identical 4-4 records.
Grapeland has been head and shoulders above everyone else in 20-2A. Just look at the Sandies' dominating 99-67 victory over Lovelady on Jan. 11 for a prime example.
Earp said part of the fun this season has been scheduling.
Playing in a seven-team district allowed the Sandies the good fortune of two byes.
Grapeland scheduled Snook at home in December. This past Friday in La Rue, Grapeland defeated Celeste 61-44. Snook and Celeste also are rated among the top-25 in 2A boys.
So what makes Grapeland so salty? A stellar four-guard rotation with Tyrin Wiley, Keizion Ashford, Javion Joseph and Dacorian Bryant — plus Rick Frauenberger in the post. Cadarian Wiley is a promising freshman who also has seen time in the starting line-up.
LaPoynor and Neches continue to excel in Conference 1A, with the Flyers 23-4 and Tigers 18-11.
For their performances, the TABC ranked LaPoynor fourth and Neches (18-11) fifth in the Conference 1A poll. The Flyers are tops in District 28-1A with an 11-1 mark while Neches and Laneville (ranked eighth, 19-8) are one game back. Oakwood (7-4) is on the outside looking in.
Palestine rounds out the ranked Pine Empire teams this week, 12th in Conference 4A with a record of 20-3. The Wildcats have the top spot in District 19-4A halfway through the schedule.
The top boys' teams, by class, are as follows: Lipan (1A, 27-1), Shelbyville (2A, 26-2), Brock (3A, 23-5), Wilmer Hutchins (4A, 23-3), Lancaster (5A, 22-2) and Duncanville (6A, 20-7).
Only two local schools are ranked in girls' polling, with LaPoynor third in Conference 1A at 25-7 and Grapeland 12th in 2A at 20-8.
The Lady Flyers are 2½ games up on Chireno and three full games on Neches.
The Sandiettes have a pivotal District 20-2A game with Centerville on Friday at home. The Lady Tigers have been ranked this season. Grapeland is two games ahead of both Centerville and Lovelady (ranked 19th this week, 22-9).
Nazareth stands atop the 1A girls' poll (20-6) with juggernaut Martins Mill tops in 2A (29-0), Wall in 3A (24-1), Canyon 4A (21-6), Mansfield Timberview 5A (31-1) and Cedar Hill 6A (30-4).