Comanche boys basketball team makes playoffs thanks to help from its JV

Mike Lee
Special to the Bulletin
Miguel Martinez dribbles the ball up the court for Comanche during the 2020-21 basketball season.

Comanche boys basketball coach Richard Pringle and athletic director Stephen Hermesmeyer made an interesting decision when the Indians’ entire varsity roster and three JV players were forced into a 10-day COVID quarantine earlier this month.

Their decision to have a mixture of the Comanche JV and freshman teams play varsity games scheduled for Feb. 2 and Feb. 5 helped the Indians’ varsity qualify for the Class 3A playoffs after returning from its quarantine.

Comanche (10-8 overall) finished 7-7 in district and grabbed the No. 4 playoff seed from District 8-3A by winning three games in five days last week against Millsap (54-46), Eastland (49-41) and Early (55-51).

“The varsity had to quarantine earlier in the season, and we had to forfeit 4-5 games,” Pringle said. “But those were nondistrict games. These were district games, and if we postponed them, we were going to have to play five games in five days (Feb. 8-12) per UIL guidelines. There’s no way we could have secured a playoff spot coming off 10 days without practicing and playing five games in five days.”

So Comanche had a team of subvarsity players fill in for its District 8-3A varsity games Feb. 2 and Feb. 5 against Brock and Peaster, the No. 2- and 3-ranked teams in the state. The results were predictable — two blowout losses.

Comanche's Taelon Sorrells goes up for a shot inside against Bangs during the 2020-21 basketball season.

“It wasn’t totally fair to those JV kids, but they did the best they could,” Pringle said. “They got some varsity experience and a taste of how different the competition is on the varsity level.

“When somebody goes down, we talk about the next man up. We knew what the outcome was probably going to be in those two games, but that’s beside the point. It was their chance to step up and play on the varsity, and they should be commended for what they did.”

When the varsity players returned Feb. 8, they faced a more manageable path to the playoffs with games Feb. 8 against Millsap, Feb. 9 against Eastland and Feb. 12 against Early.

“We were able to get a playoff spot by winning those last three games. In our eyes, the decision to have the JV play two of our (varsity) games was worth it,” Pringle said.

Hermesmeyer said the safety of the varsity players also entered into Comanche’s decision. “We didn’t want to take the varsity kids that hadn’t practiced in 10 days and ask them to go play five games in five days. I’m proud of the way our coaches and players handled the situation,” he said.

As a No. 4 seed, Comanche now has the unenviable task of playing No. 19-ranked Wichita Falls City View, the District 7-3A winner with a 20-3 record. Their bidistrict game is scheduled for 4 p.m. Saturday at Mineral Wells.

The Indians’ varsity has been led this season by forward Taelon Sorrells, a 6-foot-4 senior who averaged 16 points in the three games last week and averages 8 rebounds for the season. Miguel Martinez, a sophomore point guard, has played solidly all season and averages 15 points and 4 assists. Matthew Gonzales, a 6-2 post, leads the Indians in rebounding at almost 10 per game.

Comanche’s starting lineup is completed by Cash Cook, the team’s top defender, and Hudson Welch, the team’s fiercest competitor.

Around the area

The UIL granted extensions to girls teams for completing the first two rounds of the playoffs because of the inclement weather. The UIL also granted extensions to boys teams for district seeding games and the early rounds of the playoffs.

As of Wednesday night, the Brownwood boys (13-9, 4-3) still hadn’t finalized the site and time of their Class 4A bidistrict game against Burkburnett. Brownwood, the No. 3 seed in District 6-4A, never got to play its final district game against Lampasas because of inclement weather.

Likewise, the Blanket boys (11-4) were still trying to set their bidistrict game against Richland Springs. Blanket is the No. 2 seed from District 18-1A, while Richland Springs is the 3 seed from 17-1A.

District 29-2A canceled its final regular-season boys games Feb. 12 because of inclement weather. The freezing of the district standings left San Saba (10-1) as the No. 1 seed and Goldthwaite (9-2) as the No. 2 seed. San Saba, the defending Region IV champion, will face La Pryor in bidistrict at 2 p.m. Saturday at Taylor Field House in San Antonio. Goldthwaite will face Brackettville in bidistrict, but that game hadn’t been set as of Wednesday night

Eight days after it was originally scheduled, the No. 8-ranked May girls (20-4) are finally rescheduled to play their Class 1A bidistrict game against Highland (15-10) at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Merkel. The winner will play Munday in the area round next week.

The Zephyr girls lost their Class 1A bidistrict game to Cherokee, 53-49, last week. Zephyr was the No. 2 seed from District 18-1A.

In District 29-2A, the No. 5-ranked San Saba girls (22-1) are rescheduled to play their bidistrict game against Sabinal at 4 p.m. Friday at Johnson City. The winner will play Freer in the area round next week. The No. 7-ranked Mason girls (18-5) are rescheduled to play Brackettville in bidistrict at 4 p.m. Saturday in Devine. The winner will play Premont in next week’s area round.

The Priddy girls (17-3) set their area-round playoff game against Lingleville for 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Dublin. Priddy had a bidistrict bye after winning the District 18-1A championship.