By Will Johnson

Messenger Reporter

CROCKETT – It was a battle for bragging rights in Houston County on Tuesday night as the Grapeland Sandies hit the road and traveled south on U.S. Hwy. 287 for a matchup against the Crockett Bulldogs.

The Sandies were coming off a lopsided loss to the Argyle Eagles in the Fairfield Tournament Crf-to-the-hoophampionship while the Bulldogs were barely a week removed from a heartbreaking end to their football season.

Both teams were coming off playoff runs in the 2015-2016 UIL basketball season and brought the nucleus of those teams back for the 2016-2017 season. The Bulldogs were missing a key player due to injury in Xavion Dixon, but hopes are Crockett w
ill have him back in the lineup fairly soon. Regardless, it was the Sandies who prevailed by a final score of 68-60.

The game opened with the Bulldogs scoring on a put back from Lucky Daniels. The Sandies came right back down the court and scored when Riley Chipman made one of two from the line. A turnover by the Dawgs led to a three from Tink McQuirter and the Sandies were off and running to an 18-9 lead by the end of the quarter.

Grapeland was led by McQuirter’s 10 points in the first eight minutes of play, while Chipman added three, Parker Wilson and Kamari Smith netted two apiece while Rick Frauenberger made one of two from the line.

The sweetDawgs were led by Daniels who went for six and Keyshaun Smotherman added three to round out the Crockett scoring in the opening eight minutes of play.

As the second quarter got underway, the Sandies found their touch from behind the arc. Wilson drained two shots from downtown while Rodney Davis broke into the scoring column with six points of his own. Both Frauenberger and McQuirter netted two while Tyrin Wiley chipped in with a free throw.

Crockett began to settle down in the second quarter and matched Grapeland point for point. Daniels continued his torrid pace with eight more while a foursome of Dawgs – B.J. Anderson, Tyrese Anderson, A.J. Owens and Jurmond Wooten – all had two. Harvey Stewart made one of two from the line to make the score 35-26 as the two teams headed to the locker rooms for halftime.

After the break, Crockett began to chip away at the Grapeland lead. The Dawgs cut the lead to five before Smith nailed a three for the Sandies to make the score 38-30. B.J. Anderson followed Smith’s three with his own back- to-back threes to make the score 38-36 midway through the period.

The remainder of the third saw both teams racing up and down the court, trading baskets and bringing the quarter to an end with the score 48-46 in favor of Grapeland. The Sandies were led by Wilson witink-for-2th five while Smith hit a three, Davis made three of four from the charity stripe and Frauenberger added a layup.

Davis got the scoring started in the fourth quarter when he dropped in a three with just under seven minutes left to play. For Crockett, Daniels followed with two from inside and a free throw. Less than a minute later, Daniels caught a deflected pass and put it up and in to tie the score at 51.

On the ensuing possession, Chipman found Frauenberger running free down the middle of the lane. The sophomore made the shot, was fouled and tacked on a free throw to put Grapeland up by a score of 54-51.

The two teams continued to sprint up and down the court as the Dawgs would cut into the lead while Grapeland would push it back to four or five before finally being able to pull away to secure the win by a score of 68-60.

The Dawgs were led in scoring by Lucky Daniels with 21 and B.J. Anderson with 12. Keyshaun Smotherman netted eight, A.J. Owens droppbj-andersoned in seven, Derrick Sherman had five and Tyrese Anderson added four. Jurmond Wooten chipped in two and Harvey Stewart had one.

Parker Wilson led Grapeland with 17 while Tink McQuirter followed with 16. Rodney Davis had 13, Rick Frauenberger went for 11 while both Riley Chipman and Kamari Smith had five. Tyrin Wiley rounded out the scoring for the Sandies with one.

Wilson also led the Sandies in rebounds with 10 and assists with six.

Team wise, the Dawgs shot 34 percent from the field and 14 percent from behind the arc. The Sandies meanwhile shot 53 percent from the field and 43 percent from three point land. Both teams struggled from the free throw line, however, with Crockett converting just 43 percent of its attempts while Grapeland made 52 percent.

Following the game, Coach Cannon Earp remarked, “I didn’t know what to expect. I know Crockett lost some of their key guys to graduation and one of their top players to an injury. Our guys played pretty hard and got after it. Again, five seniors out there seem to find a way to win. We just have to keep building on that.”

It was a team effort Coach Earp stressed. “We got a huge bounce in the first rd-foulhalf, but at least three of our starters had three fouls. We are not extremely deep, especially at the post position so, that put us in some difficult spots. In fact, I’m pretty sure Riley and Tink stayed out most of the third quarter. Tyrin Wiley stepped up and gave some big minutes.”

Earp said another player who came through for the Sandies was Rick Frauenberger. “He’s something else. Rick is kind of our steady hand that doesn’t get a ton of recognition. I don’t get caught up that much in stats, but I’ll guarantee you he probably led us in rebounding during the (Fairfield) tournament. He’s always in the right place at the right time. There has never been a time when I’ve had to worry about him missing an assignment or being out of position. Along with our seniors, he’s been really, really big for us.”

He added, “It’s like I told them at halftime, ‘We’re in foul trouble, in a tough environment, we’re up against a good team and it is Dec. 6. It’s all about learning.’  They all kind of stepped up after that.”

The Sandies were back in action on Thursday as they played in the Crossroads Tournament. Scores from the tournament games were not available as of press time.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.