Grapeland Advances to Regional Tournament
By Will Johnson
JEWETT – If this is March, this must be Jewett. It seems as if the Grapeland Sandies basketball team has taken up their annual winter residency in both Fairfield and Jewett, once again this year. In the past few years, the Sandies have made a pilgrimage to Fairfield during the month of February. Then – when the March winds begin to blow – they migrate a little further west and set up shop in Jewett.
That pattern continued on Tuesday night, Feb. 27 when the Sandies punched their ticket to the UIL Region III Basketball Tournament following their 68-44 defeat of the Kerens Bobcats. Just like last year, the Sandies played their Regional Quarterfinal game in the Leon High School gymnasium.
And – just like last year – they will return to Leon High for the regional tournament beginning on Friday, March 2. Though for a while, it looked as if Kerens might have a different plan for Grapeland.
The Sandies trailed through most of the first eight minutes of play and didn’t take their first lead of the game until the 54 second mark of the opening period. BJ Howard paced the Grapeland attack with 13 points in the quarter, while Rick Frauenberger had four and Deco Bryant had two.
Kerens kept the pressure on the Sandies as De’Qualyn Lawrence poured in 11 first quarter points. Tyson Garrison added a three-pointer as Tyrone Bailey and Desmond Lindsey had two apiece to make the score 19-18 after one.
The Sandies began to pull away – somewhat – thanks to their defense in the second quarter. Frauenberger began to assert himself on the defensive end of the quarter as he blocked four Bobcat shots and altered countless others.
Howard, Keizion Ashford, Javion Joseph and the remainder of the Sandie defense kept the pressure on Kerens and by the midway point of the second quarter, the Bobcats were walking the ball up the court while trying to catch their breath.
The defensive tenacity of the Sandies began to pay off as the Bobcats struggles on the offensive side of the court led to lapses on the defensive side. No one was a bigger beneficiary of this than Frauenberger who scored six easy points in the quarter.
One play in particular encapsulated the Kerens court presence. Josh “Bear” Ackley caught a ball behind the three-point arc and when he faked a pass, the Bobcats defense crashed inside. Ackley looked around, saw he was all alone and calmly knocked down a three.
Joseph converted three of four from the charity stripe and Tyrin Wiley dropped in a shot from the paint to make the halftime score 33-28, in favor of Grapeland.
Lawrence stayed hot for the Bobcats as he added another six to his total. His only help, however, came from Lindsey with four.
After the break, the game was effectively over. Kerens appeared to still be winded from the first half. The Sandies took full advantage of this as they opened up the third quarter with a 14-2 run and pulled away to lead by a score of 56-37 after three.
Joseph caught fire for Grapeland and dropped in eight points while Howard had seven in the quarter. Ashford and Wiley added three apiece while Frauenberger dropped in two.
Lindsey had five of the Bobcats’ third quarter points while Bailey and Lawrence split the other four.
The Grapeland “D” kept the pressure on Kerens as the fourth quarter got underway and limited the Bobcats to seven points on five from Linsey and two from Lawrence.
Meanwhile, Ackley and Frauenberger both had three for Grapeland in the final period of play. A trio of Sandies – Howard, Joseph and Keriaun Davis – all netted two as Grapeland pulled away to win by a final score of 68-44.
For the game, Kerens was led by De’Qualyn Lawrence with 21 points and Taymont Lindsey with 16. Tyrone Bailey added four and Tyson Garrison had three to round out the Bobcats’ point production.
The Sandies were led in points by BJ Howard with a game-high 22. In addition to their strong defensive play, Rick Frauenberger dropped in 15 points and Javion Joseph added 13. Josh Ackley added six, Tyrin Wiley had five, Keizion Ashford went for three while both Deco Bryant and Keriaun Davis chipped in two.
Following the game, Head Coach Cannon Earp discussed his team’s performance.
“I knew that was going to be a tough one. They are a different type of opponent than we’ve faced recently and presented a different set of problems. We didn’t know who they were going to be coming into this game,” he said.
“We’ve seen them play a lot of zone and we’ve seen them play very little man-to-man defense. They came out and tried to man us up but we were prepared and ready for it. I had a feeling that was they were going to do and they did it,” Earp said.
Concerning the first half, the coach said he thought his team played well offensively, but wasn’t as sharp defensively.
“I know that sounds crazy because we only gave up 28 (in the first half), but you saw what we’re capable of in the second half. We only gave up 16 points,” he explained. “I’ve told our guys you’re going to have off shooting nights, you’re going to have on shooting nights and sometimes you’ll have something in between. But, I told them you can defend every single night. I reminded them of that at halftime and they came out here and did it in the second half.”
The win moves the Sandies into the Regional Semifinals where they will face the Tenaha Tigers. The game is scheduled for Friday, March 2 at Leon High School in Jewett. Tipoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at [email protected].