Bulldogs come up short at State
The Bulldogs came up short against Clarendon on March 10 59-35 in the State Tournament in San Antonio. Thorndale ends the season with a 27-10 overall record and were Region IV champions and District 25-2A runner-up. This was the second straight year the Bulldogs advanced to the State tournament.
By MARIE BAKKEN
A crowd of over 10,000 saw Thorndale’s hopes of a third state title in boys basketball end, as the No. 25 Bulldogs fell 59-35 to No. 5 Clarendon in the Class 2A state semifinals held Friday at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
Thorndale ends the season with a 27-10 overall record and were Region IV champions and District 25-2A runner-up. All other state tournament teams were champions of their respective districts.
This was the second straight year for the Bulldogs to reach the state tournament. They lost in the semifinals in 2016 as well.
This season was the third straight that Thorndale had advanced to the regional finals game.
Clarendon (31-3), Region I winner, fell to No. 1 Muenster 73-45 in Saturday’s 2A state title game. Muenster (33-6), Region II champion, defeated Region III winner and No. 18 Grapeland 56-52 in overtime in the other state semifinal game on Friday morning.
Beside this year’s appearance, Clarendon has made it to the state tourney in 1969, 1970 and 2011. Muenster was at tourney in 2016 and 2014 also. Grapeland made its fifth trip to state in school history (1985, 1999, 2001, 2014, 2017).
In Thorndale’s game against Clarendon, it was a tight match through the first quarter, with the Broncos up just 14-10 after one.
That frame saw the Bulldogs with their only lead of the game. Thorndale led 10-9 after a basket by Ashton Albert with 3:10 left in the first.
However, by halftime Clarendon had stretched the lead to 36-19, outscoring Thorndale 25-6 in the second quarter. The Bulldogs shot just 28.6 percent in that frame and just 31.3 percent for the whole game.
Thorndale was outrebounded 39-32 by the Broncos. Clarendon capitalized on several second-chance shots while snagging 13 offensive boards.
The second half was a much closer contest, with Clarendon putting up 20 points and Thorndale 19.
The Broncos’ largest lead came with 4:19 left in the third quarter when they were up by 26 points.
They hit just one of 11 shots from beyond the arc. Making those big shots had been a huge part of Thorndale’s game in their postseason run.
“Our theme is to always give someone one shot,” Bulldogs head coach John Kovar said. “If it goes in, we’ll just give them a high-five after the game, but if it doesn’t, we’re getting every other rebound. … The ball just didn’t go in the basket the way it has in the previous five basketball games.”
Junior Logan Fisher led the Bulldogs with eight points and six rebounds. He also had one assist and one steal. Sam Reaves added seven points, seven boards and two steals. The sophomore was averaging 14 points a game this season. Albert, another junior, had seven points three rebounds, five steals and one assist in the game.
Ty Prince, also a 6-6 junior and the leading scoring for Thorndale this season, collected six points, three rebounds, two blocks, two assists and a steal in Friday’s game. Prince was averaging 16-points per game this season.
Ashton Schaefer came off the bench to score four points, grab five rebounds and took away one steal. Evan Ivy contributed one point and one steal.
Scott Guzman recorded two steals, Lane Niemtschk recorded a rebound and a steal, Mason Fisher and Josh Iselt each grabbed a rebound and Ruben Briones added a steal.
For the Clarendon Broncos, three players scored in double figures. Marshal Johnson put up 18 points and eight rebounds to lead his team. Cameron Smith had 17 points and pulled down 12 rebounds for a double-double. Chance Lockhart had 10 points and four boards in the contest.
There no senior starters on Thorndale’s team this season, so there is much optimism that the Bulldogs will be back at the Alamodome in 2018.
There are three senior members on the Thorndale roster in Ruben Briones, Josh Iselt and Ryan Biar and being at the state tournament two years in a row is quite the way to go out.
“We’re like one big family in Thorndale,” Briones said. “Being part of both of these teams has been amazing.”
This was the fifth state tournament appearance for the Bulldogs [2006 (where the state semifinals were held the day 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.
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.