By Todd Wills
Corsicana Daily Sun
Kerens can get back to the regional tournament for the third consecutive season. Frost can make it for the first time since 2001.
The circumstances are different, but the goals are the same for the last two basketball teams standing in the Golden Circle.
And the way the Bobcats and Polar Bears are winning in the playoffs comes with the same blueprint — they’re getting big scoring games from their top players and playing great defense.
They’ll need more of both in the regional quarterfinals Tuesday night. Kerens (22-7) will play LaPoyner (26-5) at 7 p.m. at Tyler Junior College (Radio: KAND-AM 1340). Frost (16-6) faces Huckabay (28-4) at 7 p.m. Tuesday night in Clifton.
For Kerens, guard Nate Betts has averaged 26.5 points in two playoff games, five better than his district average. Reigning Golden Circle Player of the Year Tobyus Thomas had 20 points in the Bobcats’ 54-41 victory over Waco Rapoport on Friday night.
Frost leans heavily on senior forward Danial Steels to score, and he came through again in a 55-29 win over Blum in the Polar Bears’ area round win on Thursday night.
But they did need others to score such as guards Jacob Stroder and Robert Worley and post Maliko Bruce.
“The key to us winning is can we get two or three other guys get eight or nine points so someone else can help him not get tripled team,” Blenden said. “They don’t have to score 20, but they need to score enough. Danial is a huge key to what we’re doing.”
Steels had 21 points in the win. He scored 10 of the final 12 points for Frost in the first half.
Defense also has been part of the winning formula. Thomas had three blocks and Daedrion Tolliver added another, all crucial rejections that swung momentum in Friday’s game.
Frost allowed 27 points per game in 12 district games, and stayed close to that total in its first playoff game. Blenden has given his team a goal of keeping Huckabay under 45 points, a tall order with Huckabay scoring 75 in a 35-point area-round victory over Milford.
Kerens has been on this stage before — the Bobcats made it to their first state tournament in school history last year.
Frost has made nine regional tournaments, but its been awhile since making it twice in three years in 1999 and 2001.
Region III-1A DI Quarterfinal
Kerens (22-7) vs. LaPoyner (26-5)
7 p.m., Tuesday, Tyler Junior College
Road in Playoffs — Kerens, bi-district, def. Big Sandy, 80-72, area round, def. Waco Rapoport, 54-51; LaPoyner, first-round bye, area round, def. Axtell, 60-40.
Notable: LaPoyner freshman James Jackson averages 12.7 points per game ... LaPoyner shoots 15 3-pointers per game ... Nate Betts scored 34 points against Big Sandy and 21 points against Rapoport.
Region III-1A DII Quarterfinal
Frost (16-6) vs. Huckabay (28-4)
7 p.m., Tuesday, Clifton
Road in Playoffs — Frost, first-round bye; area round, def. Blum, 55-29; Huckabay, first-round bye; area round, def. Milford, 75-40.
Notable: Junior Fragoza had 23 points in Huckabay’s win over Milford ... Jacob Stroder and Maliko Bruce combined for 17 points for Frost in the win over Blum.