Boys Basketball Insider: Playoff time pays notice to rarities

Posted Monday, Feb. 17, 2014  comments  Print Reprints

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A rare coincidence played out last week.

Castleberry made the boys basketball playoffs for the first time in 27 years, and North Crowley missed the postseason for the first time in the school’s 15-year history.

Class 3A schools added a fourth team to the playoffs this season for the first time. Castleberry (12-14) grabbed that spot in District 6-3A when the Lions beat Mineral Wells, 77-75 on Feb. 7. Castleberry had not beaten the Rams in four years.

“We’ve always had a little gap in our classes, but this group has been together for three years and they have bought in to what we are trying to teach them,” said coach Bart Beasley, whose team meets Burkburnett (22-5) on Tuesday night. “The big part was getting the kids to believe in themselves, that they were capable of doing what we’ve done.”

The strength has been scoring balance as D.J. Gandy leads the team with a 12-point average. Christian Cardona and Adrian Rodriguez each chip in 11.

Castleberry struggled early this season, struggled losing six games by four points or fewer.

“We’ve got several guys that can step up in any game this year,” Beasley said. “That’s something we didn’t have last year as we had one guy who did most of the scoring. Early in the year it took some time for us to get someone to step up and make the plays we needed.”

At North Crowley, the same wasn’t true.

When the District 3-5A race was settled last week, it was North Crowley (15-12, 7-7) on the outside in fifth place.

Panthers coach Tommy Brakel, who has led the program since the school opened in 1998, said the season was more challenging than most, but the team did show flashes of promise late. Weather-related cancellations also hurt.

“I think when things don’t go right, you always search for answers,” said Brakel, whose 205-18 record at North Crowley includes a 2008 5A state title. “We had a bunch of seniors graduate last year and we had a very inexperienced team this year. With the UIL game cuts and the iced out games, we lost almost a quarter of our season.”

North Crowley is still tough at home. They lost twice this season, making the Panthers 158-10 all-time at home.

“I love it here and I have no plans on going anywhere,” Brakel said. “Everything we’ve done has my thumbprint on it and it would really take something to pry me away.”

Headed to a trap

Perhaps one of the most interesting bi-bistrict games will be District 5-4A champion Trophy Club Nelson taking on District 6-4A fourth-place team, Fort Worth Eastern Hills.

The Highlanders beat Fort Worth Polytechnic 45-40 in a tiebreaker game Friday.

It was a long week for Eastern Hills, which had completed the regular season the Friday before and needed another loss by Poly just to get into the tie-break scenario.

To make matters more anxious, Poly’s final game was moved back a day by weather.

“We prepared like we were going to play,” Eastern Hills coach Frank Bailey said. “We just went to work, knowing something was going to happen regardless. I think our kids came out too anxious Friday and we didn’t shoot well, but our defense came through late.”

Eastern Hills hasn’t faced Byron Nelson this year, but did knock off 6-4A champ Fort Worth Dunbar.

“I don’t think we have to do anything up and over the top to win,” Bailey said. “I feel like we’re a good defensive team and we get the rebounds we need to get. There are some mismatches for us, mainly inside, but I feel like our guards will be all right.”

Survival of fittest

Crowley’s 10-2 final stretch run helped send the Eagles to a bi-district showdown with Fort Worth Southwest (13-12) Tuesday night.

After starting the season 6-9, Crowley’s run included victories over Waco and Burleson Centennial to wind up in third place in District 8-4A.

Crowley’s on a five-game winning streak as it collides with a Southwest team that finished second in District 7-4A and is riding a three-game winning streak.

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1. Cedar Hill 17-2 -
2. North Crowley 15-5 -
3. Duncanville 15-4 -
4. Richland 13-3 -
5. South Grand Prairie 14-4 -
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8. Arlington 14-7 -
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8. Kennedale 10-1 -
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Week 8 (01/03/2011-01/09/2011)