14 and Counting!!
Grapeland 51 Centerville 41
By Will Johnson
GRAPELAND – It wasn’t pretty on Saturday afternoon when the Grapeland Sandies played the Centerville Tigers. Maybe it was because the two teams were thrown off because of the weather postponement from Friday or a delayed start on Saturday.
Whatever it was, neither team was able to establish any sort of flow or continuity. Still, there were some pretty big highlights from the Saturday contest. First it was Senior Day for the Sandies and secondly, Grapeland clinched the District 20-2A title with a 51-41 victory over Centerville.
It’s not just any old run of the mill district championship, however. This was the 14th consecutive first place trophy the Sandies have held aloft. Think of it this way, the last time Grapeland finished out of the league’s top spot, the seniors on this year’s team were either three or four. Blackberries were the go-to high-tech digital device and George W. Bush was president.
During this run, the Sandies have been to the Regional Semifinals 10 times, the Regional Finals seven times and they have made three appearances in the State Tournament, including last year’s heartbreaker in the title game.
How far will they go this year? Who knows, but first, they have to close out their district schedule and they took another step towards that on Saturday with their 51st consecutive district win.
As the game got underway, LeLe Smith showcased his potential. Smith has been coming on as of late and in the first quarter he dominated the paint with eight points and four rebounds. Johnny Lamb made an “And 1” to cap a 9-0 start to the contest while Kionte Willis added another two. In addition, Zan Anderson hit a three-pointer as time expired in the initial eight minutes of play to help give Grapeland a 16-7 lead.
The Tigers were held scoreless until the 2:43 mark of the period when Paxton Hancock dropped in two of his four points. He was joined in the scoring column by Wade Neyland who knocked down a three-pointer.
Smith continued his hot start for the Sandies in the second as he dropped in another five. Lamb had four and Omarian Wiley also got in the books with four which included two free throws after the half had ended to make the Grapeland lead 29-17 at the break.
Karter Kornegay and Jake Pineda paced Centerville in the second quarter with three apiece while Neyland and Andrew Newman had two each to close out the first half scoring for the Tigers.
Following the intermission, both teams went cold from the field. Smith added five to the Grapeland point total while Cole Goolsby hit from downtown. That was it, however, as Grapeland extended its lead by one to take a 37-24 margin into the fourth quarter.
Given the Sandies’ shooting woes, the Tigers had a golden opportunity to cut into the deficit. Centerville, however, let that opportunity slip through their fingers as they only scored seven in the third. Christian Long hit a three while Newman and Zantayl Holley added two apiece.
In the fourth, the shooting got a little better for Grapeland. Wiley dropped in four to pace the Sandies while Goolsby and Lamb both connected from behind the arc. Smith added two more to his total and Trey Davison converted two-of-two from the line to help the Sandies pick up the 51-41 win.
On the game, Centerville was led in scoring by Wade Neyland with 11 points. Jake Pineda had eight and Paxton Hancock put in seven. Andrew Newman had four while Karter Kornegay, Christian Long and Trayce Schwab all had three. Zantayl Holley chipped in a pair of free throws to round out the Tigers’ point production.
LeLe Smith led the way for Grapeland with 20 points and seven rebounds. Johnny Lamb was also in double figures with 10 points. Omarian Wiley added eight while Cole Goolsby dropped in a pair of three-pointers. Zan Anderson hit a three while Trey Davison and Kionte Willis had two apiece to close out the Grapeland scoring.
Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at [email protected]