Bulldogs state bound
The Thorndale Bulldogs celebrate following their win over district rival Mumford 54-50 on Saturday afternoon at New Braunfels Canyon High School to earn a trip back to the Alamodome and the state tourney. The Bulldogs are set for Clarendon Friday at 10 a.m. in San Antonio. The championship game will be at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.
By MARIE BAKKEN
The No. 25 Thorndale Bulldogs (27-9) are head back to the UIL boys state basketball tournament for the second straight year after claiming the Class 2A Region IV title over the weekend.
Thorndale defeated district rival Mumford 54-50 on Saturday afternoon at New Braunfels Canyon High School to earn a trip back to the Alamodome and the state tourney.
The regional final marked the third time the Bulldogs and Mumford had faced off this season, with the Mustangs winning the two previous matches. Mumford won the District 25-2A title, with Thorndale claiming second. The Bulldogs are the only non-district champion in the final four.
That was the third straight regional final appearance for Thorndale. It is the fifth state tournament appearance for the Bulldogs [2006 (where the state semifinals were held the night after the regional finals at the regional tournament sight), 2007, 2008, 2016, 2017].
Prior to last year’s appearance, the last time the Bulldogs were at the state tournament, the seniors on this year’s squad were in the third grade.
Thorndale will face off against No. 5 Clarendon (30-2) at 10 a.m. Friday at the Alamodome in San Antonio. The Broncos were champions of Region I and winner of 2-2A. They defeated New Deal 75-56 to win their regional title.
Beside this year’s appearance, Clarendon has made it to the state tourney in 1969, 1970 and 2011.
Thorndale head coach John Kovar sizes up Clarendon as being like a familiar tall and athletic squad he had faced.
“They are very good and remind me of Mumford,” Coach Kovar said.
The other semifinal tips off at 8:30 Friday morning and matches Region II winner and No. 1 Muenster (31-6) against No. 18 Grapeland (33-5), the Region III champion. Muenster finished first in 11-2A, with Grapeland claiming the 20-2A title.
Grapeland defeated Tenaha 99-83 to win its regional title. Muenster defeated Gateway Charter Academy 66-42 to win its regional tourney.
Muenster was at tourney in 2016 and 2014 also. Grapeland is making its fifth trip to state in school history (1985, 1999, 2001, 2014, 2017).
The Class 2A state title game is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
This year’s state tourney appearance marks the 10th anniversary since Thorndale won its first of back-to-back boys basketball titles under the late coach Jeff Lieberman. Coach Kovar knows that would mean something special to the school and community.
“It would be cool to win it this year since it is a 10 year reunion, and in honor of Coach,” Coach Kovar said.
This is the third year that the UIL has moved the state basketball tournament from its longtime home at Austin’s Frank Erwin Center. “The Drum,” as it is known, was the site where the Bulldogs won its back-to-back titles.
NOTE: Due to the basketball team’s appearance at the state tournament on Friday morning, Thorndale ISD will not have school that day.