Hearts were heavy all of last week when the Northwest boys basketball team played on Wednesday in its final regular season game.
Fellow student and girls basketball player Katleyn ShyAnn Hooper was killed in a car accident on Feb. 10 in a head-on collision. Fellow teammate Brianna Christiansen was also severely injured.
If there was any good news, it was that Tuesday’s ice storm forced the game with Keller Fossil Ridge to be re-scheduled for Wednesday. The extra day gave everybody a chance to come to grips with what happened. The Texans rallied and won in overtime, 73-68. Hooper’s father was at the game, Northwest coach Mike Hatch said.
“The tragedy was extremely emotional because the guys were close were her,” Hatch said. “I think our kids decided that this game was going to be for her.
“I wanted the kids to be around each other. I just told them that everybody grieves differently. It’s important to talk about it and not be afraid to show some emotion. They needed to be around their peers.”
As for the game, the Texans (23-7, 10-4 in 4-5A) did the little things to pull out the victory and claim the district’s third playoff seed. Taylor Johnson (29) and Josh (21) led the fourth-quarter comeback.
Northwest met Arlington Bowie at 8 p.m. Tuesday in the Class 5A Region I bi-district playoff round. The winner would get the winner of Amarillo Tascosa-El Paso Franklin in the area round.
“I thought our kids were committed,” Hatch said. “We’ve said before than when you’re down five points, you have to have some toughness to pull out wins. We took three charges and got some rebounds. That’s why we won.”
The game also snapped Northwest’s four-game losing streak to the district’s other playoff teams, Keller, Fossil Ridge and Richland. Northwest went 2-4 against those teams, splitting with Richland and Fossil Ridge but losing both to Keller.
Putting the past in the past
The Texans had not won a bi-district playoff game in their last three appearances. Some of that can be attributed to matchups. But if this team was going to make a run, it needed Tatum to score. It also needed a healthy Elijah Christman. Christman was questionable for the playoff because of bruised knee ligaments.
“We don’t talk about the history,” Hatch said. “Every year is new, so we have to approach it that way.”
Byron Nelson update
The Bobcats (23-7, 12-2 in 5-4A) got a break last week as they won the outright district championship.
They survived in overtime against Denton, 66-54, while Denton Guyer lost to White Settlement Brewer, 39-33.
“Our kids were pretty fired up,” coach Scott Curran said. “They didn’t want to share anything with anybody. But we showed some resiliency because Denton played really hard and we had to overcome three players fouling out.”
As the district’s top seed, Nelson opened the Class 4A Region I bi-district round against Fort Worth Eastern Hills. The winner would advance to the area round to face the winner of Waco-Fort Worth Arlington Heights.
If the Bobcats took care of their business and the Yellow Jackets did the same, it would be a rematch of last year’s Region I championship game.