According to the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches poll, the district features four of the top 22 teams in Class 4A.
Those four teams reached the playoffs and three reached the regional quarterfinals — the No. 9 Indians, No. 20 Lubbock Estacado and No. 22 Lamesa.
Seminole, the District 2-4A champion, meets the district’s No. 4 seed Lamesa for in a regional quarterfinal matchup at 7:30 p.m. today at the Rip Griffin Center at Lubbock Christian University.
“Lamesa has got to be without a doubt the best fourth place team in the state of Texas,” Seminole head coach David Williams said. “Our district is so tough. It could have easily been us in fourth. You could mix those teams up any way. We have a ton of respect for Lamesa. We don’t by any stretch of the imagination see them as a fourth place team.”
The Indians split with the Tornadoes with each team winning on each other’s home floor during the district schedule.
Lamesa grabbed a 65-60 victory on Jan. 17 and Seminole responded with an 80-72 win on Feb. 3.
“The thing that’s different this time is the fact that we are on a neutral court,” Williams said. “We got officials that have never seen us play before. You’d like to think that the better team is going to win. That’s kind of the take that I have on it. We are excited, because we can finally solve who the better team is.”
The Indians, which lost seven of their first eight games of the regular season, hold a 21-11 record. The Tornadoes improved to 27-6 after an 83-55 victory against Andrews in the area round.
Seminole was forced to play the first part of the season without two of its starters — Cade Barnard and Reese Moore — as the football team reached the Class 4A regional finals. Williams said the team finally came together during the 59th annual Whataburger Tournament where the Indians finished fourth.
Moore leads the Indians with 14 points and 12 rebounds per game. Barnard averages 10 points, five rebounds and three assists, while Carter Laramore and Carter Johnson each chip in 13 points. Clayton Medlin supplies 10 points and nine rebounds.
The Indians don’t run up and down the court searching for a wealth of fast-break opportunities. Instead, with their average starting-lineup height of 6-foot-4, they score a majority of their 58 points per game in the paint.
“The thing about our team is we aren’t going to blow people out,” Williams said. “We are a big team. We try to dominate inside. We aren’t flashy. Sometimes it’s real ugly to watch. The thing about our team is they are really focused. They know what they are good at and they are good at imposing their will on other teams.
“You look at the teams left in the region and most of them are teams that like to play up and down. They are real athletic and they like to press, but we are kind of the oddball team that’s left right now. The kids have really embraced that persona of being the bigger and stronger team, but you have to do every night. The pressure gets tough, because these teams get faster and quicker as we go through.”
>> RIVALRY REMATCH: Many members of the Buena Vista boys basketball team don’t have fond memories when they meet Borden County in the playoffs.
A year ago, the Coyotes knocked the Longhorns out of the Class 1A playoffs during the regional quarterfinals.
In the fall, Borden County — which ultimately won the Class 1A Division I football title — needed double overtime to beat Buena Vista in the regional semifinals.
The No. 11 Longhorns are looking for a different outcome as they play the No. 6 Coyotes in the regional quarterfinals at 6 p.m. today at Andrews Performance Center.
“It’s two victories in the playoffs where (Borden County) has put us out,” Buena Vista head coach David Whaley said. “Everyone is dead set to take care of business. We’ve been having a model of TCB (take care of business). We want to go in and show what we are capable of and how strong of a team we are. That’s one of the main things the boys have been factoring into everything they do. They want to make sure they come out and represent to the fullest capability of what they have.”
Buena Vista’s trio of DJ Whaley, Ethen Evans and Dagoberto Rodriguez combined to average 53.1 points during the regular season. The Longhorns averaged 71.1 points per game in that span. Buena Vista holds a 25-4 record which includes a current 11-game win streak.
David Whaley said the difference between last season and this year of reaching the regional quarterfinals is the player’s mentality.
“You have a lot of guys that have elevated their play,” David Whaley said. “It changes how a first-year regional quarterfinalist team becomes more poised and more calculating to take care of business.”
>> SURVIVE AND ADVANCE: The Crane boys basketball team has score more than 1,600 points during the 2016-17 season.
However, its two most important points came off the fingertips of Anthony Marinelarena in the waning seconds of a playoff-seeding game to help the Golden Cranes claim the No. 1 seed from District 3-3A.
That ability to win in the clutch has propelled Crane (25-2) to back-to-back playoff victories and a regional quarterfinal meeting with No. 21 Wall at 7:30 p.m. today at Howard College in Big Spring.
“Everybody that is still playing has playmakers and every team has pretty good team chemistry,” Crane head coach Chris Suttle said. “It’s those teams that can hunker down and get a stop here or there. They can execute an inbounds play or a sideline play or a specific set to get a bucket in the crunch. Something as simple as boxing out on a free throw. Those are little things that you preach all year long that you hope your kids will execute at the right time. If they are at the right place at the right time, it all comes together and that’s how teams move on and survive and advance this time of the year.”
The Golden Cranes are in the regional quarterfinals for the first time since 2006.
In that playoff run, Crane won District 1-2A and received a first-round bye. The Golden Cranes defeated Early 51-45, but lost to regional finalist Reagan County 58-33. Crane lost in the bi-district round in five of the previous 10 seasons.
Suttle said there has been plenty of support for a team that shook off years of tough playoff experiences.
“We are super excited to still be playing,” Suttle said. “It’s a big thing for the town and huge thing for the community. We’ve gotten a lot of love and support and backing by everybody involved.”
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