Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas


November 19, 2011

Area Boys’ Basketball Preview: Ending a drought

Culture change best way back to playoffs

Corsicana — It’s been 14 years since Leonard Davis and Lance Chambers led Wortham to a state championship in basketball. Hard to believe it’s been that long.

These days in Wortham, the Bulldogs are just hoping to make the playoffs. Wortham hasn’t played in the postseason since the 2004-05 season, when the Bulldogs lost a bi-district game to Goldthwaite, 65-56.

New Wortham coach Owen Clifton, who arrives from Austin Hyde Park, a private school, is trying to change the culture in his first season at Wortham. He has established team goals and worked with the Little Dribblers program and gone to the middle school every day.  

“For me, it’s a change of culture and the work ethic,” Clifton said. “We do a ton of loose ball drills, sacrificing your body.”

At smaller schools like Wortham it also helps to have players who have been to the playoffs in other sports. Only Blake Davis, a senior transfer from Fairfield, has played in a playoff game in any sport. “You have to get used to winning,” Clifton said.

That has happened at schools such as Hubbard, which made the playoffs in basketball and baseball last school year. That has carried over to football this season with the Jaguars going from 0-10 to the regional semifinals.

Mildred has done the same in basketball. The Eagles were tri-district champions in basketball and made it to the area round of the playoffs last season after playoff runs in baseball and football. Mildred had gone since 1992 when it last made the basketball playoffs.

“We have a good group of kids,” said first-year Eagles head coach Daniel Johnston, who was an assistant last season. “And we showed them how it was to be a varsity basketball player. They really bought into it. They took what we sold them.”

Rice only has gone four years without a playoff appearance, but for Eddie Barker, in his ninth season, that is an eternity.

The Bulldogs were 3-9 and finished in fifth place in district last season. He sees improvement this season and believes Rice can make the playoffs.

“We’ve always had a saying about hanging a banner in the gym,” Barker said. “Now it’s ‘raise the banner.’ The Dallas Mavericks had a T-shirt that said that when they won the NBA championship. I’m going to start wearing that shirt once a week in practice.

“They’re hungry. We got third place in football and just missed on points. We did come close in football, so these kids believe they can win.”

New Blooming Grove coach Ben Kinnison may have the toughest task in front of him — the Lions haven’t made the playoffs since 1979, according to school records.

So Kinnison is using the same philosophy that Clifton is using in Wortham.

“It’s hard honestly,” Kinnison said. “You have to get kids to buy in. I have a bunch of young kids. We have a motto, ‘change the culture.’ We have to try and create a winning atmosphere.”

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  • CHS SotfballSpence.jpg GC Softball: Playoff Time

    There  were some bumps on the road and slides in the standings and a few bruises along the way, but five Golden Circle teams have reached the softball playoffs that begin with first round games on Thursday.
    For Corsicana it was a wakeup call during the second half of district play that gave the Tigers the push they needed, and for Mildred it was the culmination of yet another splendid season as the Lady Eagles made the playoffs for the fifth straight season. Blooming Grove is back again, a regular in post season play with a chance to make a run, and Hubbard begins its quest to get to the state tournament and Austin with a one-game playoff on Thursday against Itasca in Italy.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • NVSBAhearn.jpg Navarro Softball: Bulldogs split with Kilgore, win final home game

    Kristen Ahearn was mad, steaming.
    Even her peanut butter and jelly sandwich that she ate between the doubleheader games didn't taste good. Nothing fit. Nothing was in sync. Nothing felt right or even tasted right.
    Then Ahearn found the cure.
    Simple enough: Just go out and blast a three-run homer.
    That's the short version of what happened Tuesday at Navarro College, where Ahearn's three-run bomb ignited the Bulldogs in the second game against Kilgore and Navarro went on to win 8-5 to close out its regular season with a bang and a smile from Ahearn.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • KerensBBAnderson.jpg GC Baseball: Kerens beats Cayuga 5-1, wins first district title since 1981

    The wait is over.
    And it came just in time for Brett Anderson, who left it all on the mound Tuesday night at Kerens, where he pitched a masterpiece to lead the Bobcats over Cayuga, 5-1, and help the program win its first baseball district title since 1981.
    “I've got no gas left. I'm out,'' said Anderson, a senior lefty who stopped Cayuga cold, holding the three-time defending district champs to just three singles while striking out 14.

    April 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • GC Basebal Roundup: Corsicana blasts Jacksonville; BG wins huge district game

    The Corsicana Tigers wrapped up district play with a dominating 9-0 win over the Jacksonville Indians behind Trevor Nolen, who shut out the Indians and allowed only one hit over 6 1/3 innings.  Donovan Fields came on to retire the final two hitters. The Tiger pitchers limited the Indians to only 25 plate appearances in the game and no runner to reach third base.

    April 22, 2014

  • 4-23-14 Rodeo clown.jpg Rodeo: Navarro County Derrick Days -- Burton is back

    He's back.
    Professional rodeo entertainer Ronald Burton returns to the Navarro County Exposition Center  April 25-26 to entertain the crowd at the 2014 Navarro County Derrick Days Pro Rodeo.

    April 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Huggins rodeo Huggins to call shots at Derrick Days Rodeo

    West Huggins will serve as the announcer for the 2014 Navarro County Derrick Days Pro rodeo. The Gardendale native is the reigning three-time United Professional Rodeo Association Announcer of the Year.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • NC baseball Whoa 300th Dill gets 300th win in Navarro baseball sweep of Bossier Parish

    Navarro baseball’s weekend in Louisiana was significant on a number of fronts. On one hand, coach Whoa Dill notched his 300th win. On the other, and perhaps more importantly, the Bulldogs simply continued to play well. The Bulldogs swept Bossier Parish to move 14-11 in Region XIV East Zone play, and 27-17 overall.

    April 21, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mildred sending five to regional track meet

    Sasha Ballard set a school record in the 800 meters and paced a contingent of five Mildred thinclads heading to Stephenville for the regionals later this week.

    April 21, 2014

  • Kerens boys grab four gold medals at area track meet

    Tavion Hall and Jalon Moss each snared a pair of gold medals as Kerens boys finished second at their area track meet last week with 88 points.

    April 21, 2014

  • Area schedule for the week

    Here's a look at this week's schedule for Golden Ciircle teams and Navarro College. The schedule does not include upcoming bi-district playoff games in softball because times and sites have yet to be determined.

    April 18, 2014

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