Goats rally to clinch 19-3A championship

By Putt Riddle, Special to The Groesbeck Journal

Basketball at Groesbeck High on Tuesday, Feb. 13 began and ended with a celebration. The first celebration was to honor the seniors at their last home game and their parents. That celebration honored Austin Wagner, Nick Mosley and Titus Townes. The second celebration was more raucous as the Groesbeck Goats pulled off an amazing rally in the fourth quarter to beat the Whitney Wildcats for the District 19-3A title in a 48-43 cliffhanger. Both teams came into the game along with McGregor with 10-3 district marks and a chance to win the title. The Groesbeck win brought the Goats their first district championship since the 1992 team that lost only one game, for the state championship. Coach Bill Barstow saw to it that his young team properly celebrated the win as he hauled out the stepladder to a basket for the traditional net cutting ceremony. Everyone on the team took his turn on the ladder to snip a piece of the net. Barstow made the final cut to get the net off the hoop and held it up to the cheering Goat crowd standing in the aisles to aid their support to the very excited Goat squad. Lots of pictures were made of the team, of the ladder action and of individual players.

The win gave the Goats an 11-3 district record and a 19-11 season record. That left them in a tie for the district title with McGregor who defeated Clifton that night. During the season, the two leaders split games, but Groesbeck outscored the Bulldogs by four points in the two games they faced each other. For Whitney to have won the title, they needed to beat Groesbeck while Clifton upended McGregor. Just beating the Goats while the Bulldogs won would have left the Wildcats in second place with the same 11-3 record since two of their losses were to McGregor. With the loss, they dropped down to third in the district with a 10-4 record. The gods favored the Goats when the coaches met to flip a coin on Wednesday to determine the seeding for the playoffs as Groesbeck ended up as the #1 seed. It set up a game with Hearne, fourth place out of 20-3A on Tuesday, Feb. 20 at 7:30 p.m. in the Madisonville High Gym.

For a good part of the game, it seemed that Groesbeck was going to have to settle for third place.  They fell behind Whitney 11-9 after the first quarter and 25-17 at the half. Killing the Goats were their turnovers, poor shooting and lack of rebounding. What was more astounding was their missing easy layups or slam dunks that the Wildcats were in no position to contest. Looking at the post game stats would make one think that this should have been a Whitney win, but there has to be an accounting for the heart that players put into a game. And that’s the stat that put the Goats in the win column after being down as much as 12 points in the third quarter.

The Wildcats shot 50 percent for the game making 15 of 30 shot attempts. Groesbeck made only 32 percent of its attempts, 18 of 56. Despite giving up so many defensive rebounds in the first half to Whitney who hauled them in after only one Goat shot per trip, Groesbeck won the rebound battle 37-29. Mosley led the Goats with 11 and Jake Pringle was right behind with 10 caroms. That offset the 12 rebounds gathered in by Devin Wilson for Whitney. Whitney only had five turnovers to 17 for Groesbeck.

Steals was a part of the game where the Goats made up for their poor early offensive performance. They made nine thefts to four for Whitney. Ameer Lee led Groesbeck with four matching the Whitney total by himself. Tyrique Carter and Ty Hale each had two steals for the Goats. Pringle added one to the total.

To read more of this story, pick up a copy of Thursday's edition of The Groesbeck Journal! You can also subscribe online or call 254-729-5103.

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