Before the season began, Bullard Brook Hill coach Wally Dawkins said he thought his team would reach the regional playoffs and maybe the state tournament. He just didn’t expect the Guard to have to take this path.
Finishing third in district, Brook Hill had to go on the road for its first two playoff games, traveling to Carrollton and Amarillo.
The Guard won both those games over ranked foes to advance to the regionals, where they’ll face fifth-ranked Fort Worth Calvary Christian on Saturday in what is essentially another road game for Brook Hill.
The TAPPS 3A regional tips off at 11:30 a.m. at Fort Worth Nolan Catholic High School, with the winner advancing to the state tournament in Mansfield next weekend.
The Conquerors (20-4) will play about five miles from home, whereas the Guard (16-13) must travel close to three hours for the matchup, though it beats the nine-hour trip to Amarillo that turned into a three-day trip. Brook Hill defeated No. 15 Carrollton Christian 48-44 in bi-district and Amarillo San Jacinto 59-50 in the area round.
“Our motto right now is: ‘Have game, will travel,’” Dawkins said. “To win both those games on the road is just really a credit to the fact that our kids are determined; they’re focused.
“I told the kids, nobody thought we’d win either one of those games, and nobody thinks we’re going to beat Calvary Christian.”
To beat Calvary today, Dawkins said the Guard will have to stop senior point guard Madison Ross, the Conquerors’ leading scorer, and win the battle on the boards.
Brook Hill will look to leading scorer and rebounder Austin Langemeier as well as freshman point guard Grant Hanks, who averages 15.7 points per game.
Hanks was thrust into a starring role when last year’s point guard, first-team all-district selection Pablo Fonseca, returned to his native Mexico for his final year of school. Dawkins compared Hanks to the New York Knicks’ Jeremy Lin, saying he’s a scoring point guard who can penetrate, pass, score or turn it over, often trying to do too much and needing more experience.
Hanks, the fourth in a line of brothers to play for Dawkins at Whitehouse and Brook Hill, will look to get the Guard back to state after missing out on last year’s tournament. Brook Hill was among the last four teams standing from 2008-2010.
Dawkins said he likes this year’s team’s resiliency, as shown in a come-from-behind win over Garland Christian, the TAPPS 4-3A champion’s only loss in league play.
“They just had that knack of never giving up and trying to find a way to win,” Dawkins said. “I tell them it’s not just a good quality as basketball players it’s a good quality as men to not give up.”
Lady Crusaders Eyeing Return To State
After two straight losses in the regional round, T.K. Gorman is looking to get back to the state tournament for the first time since 2009 on Saturday.
The Lady Crusaders (30-6) face Houston Second Baptist (26-10) Saturday at Plano John Paul II High School in a TAPPS 4A regional playoff for the right to go to state.
Gorman lost to Tomball Concordia Lutheran the last two years in the same round and site. This year’s opponent is led by senior guard Taylor Barnett, who averages 24.4 points.
“They seem pretty guard heavy so I think our guards will really step it up on defense,” Gorman junior Michelle Obach said. “They can get the job done if we can stop their main scorer.”
Lady Crusaders coach Katie Robertson said her team doesn’t plan to change anything defensively. Gorman has held all but one team to less than 50 points in 2012, led by a starting back court trio of Obach, Cori Jo Navarro and Allie Buzbee that averages 8.6 steals per game.
“Defense plays a huge part in our wins so we’re going to stick with our defensive plan,” Robertson said.
Obach leads Gorman’s scoring with 20.2 points per game, followed by Brooke Lee, who provides a spark off the bench with 8.7 a game. Danielle Smith averages a team-best 6.8 rebounds while Susannah Williams adds 7.6 points and 5.8 rebounds.
The winner of today’s game plays either Houston Westbury Christian or Fort Worth Christian next weekend in Mansfield in a TAPPS 4A state semifinal.
“Everybody knows that they’re going to have to step up,” Robertson said.