SPORTS Bulldogs come up short against Port Aransas
The No. 11 Thorndale Bulldogs (27-8) just fell short on Friday night of a chance to play for a regional title and possible fourth straight trip to the state tournament.
The team fell 42-40 to No. 6 Port Aransas in the semifinals of the Class 2A Region IV boys basketball tournament played at San Marcos High School.
The Bulldogs had reached the state tournament the three seasons prior. This was the fifth consecutive season that Thorndale had advanced to the regional tournament. Despite the loss, Bulldogs head coach John Kovar said the team really grew this year should be proud of their accomplishments.
“I am very proud of this group for having another good season. This team improved all year long and had really came a long way since the beginning of the year. They are a great group of kids to be around and represented their school well.”
Thorndale’s co-district 25-2A champion and No. 10 Hearne defeated Port Aransas 55-37 in the regional championship game on Saturday afternoon and is headed to the UIL boys state basketball tournament for the first time in 30 years. They are scheduled to play Shelbyville at 10 a.m. on Friday at the Alamodome in San Antonio. The other state semifinal will see Martin’s Mill and Gruver at 8:30 a.m. on Friday. The Class 2A boys state title game is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
Hearne reached the regional finals game by defeating No. 7 San Perlita 76-61 in the other semifinal game.
In Thorndale’s game against Port Aransas, it was a close contest from beginning to end. The two teams were never more than two points away from each other the entire first half. The Bulldogs and Marlin were tied at 10-10 after the first quarter and Port Aransas managed a slim 18-17 at lead halftime. Thorndale put a 26-23 after a shot and free throw from Kolby Neumeyer with less than two minutes left in the third quarter. In between charge calls on Thorndale players, the Marlins scored to cut the margin to 26-25 Bulldogs.
Thorndale went up by three points two times in the fourth quarter, once with 7:35 left in the game and the other with 4:35 left in the contest. Port Aransas hit back-to-back three point shots to gain a 35-32 advantage with 3:43 left. Evan Ivy’s put back shot with 3:20 left cut it to a 35-34 Marlin lead. Another Port Aransas three point shot have them the largest lead of the contest at 38-34 with 2:36 remaining in the game. Sam Reaves put up a three point of his own to cut it to 38-37 with 2:20 left. Evan Ivy hit the back half of two free throws to tie the game at 38-38 with 1:56 remaining. Two missed free throws by the Marlins and a Bulldog rebound set up Ivy’s score with 1:20 left in the game, giving Thorndale a 40-38 lead. Ivy then blocked a Marlin shot, Neumeyer grabbed the loose ball but a missed shot on the Bulldogs’ end was grabbed by Port Aransas. The Marlins missed the shot with Reaves nabbing the rebound. On his way down the court, he was put on the floor and the ball stolen with no foul called. Port Aransas went untouched for the score and tied the game at 40-40 with 32 seconds left in the game.
The Bulldogs called a time out to set up the final play. The ball came out to Thorn-dale, but they lost the handle and the Marlins got the ball back with 17.5 seconds left. A screen play opened up the middle of the lane and the Marlins scored with less than a second left in the game to go up 42-40. Thorndale’s could not get a last second shot off. Ivy led the Bulldog effort with 12 points, followed by Reaves with 11. Neumeyer added nine, Michael Herzog six and Chance Betak two. The seniors on this Thorn-dale squad made three state tournament appearance and four regional tournament trips, and Coach Kovar speaks highly of them. “This senior group of kids have had a ton of success and are great young men,” he said. Thorndale and Port Aransas met in the 2018 regional semifinals, with the Bulldogs coming out on top o that contest 57-44.