AREA BASKETBALL ROUNDUP: Priddy navigates tricky season to sweep district titles

Mike Lee
Special to the Bulletin
Zackery Ward leads the Priddy Pirates in scoring during the 2020-21 basketball season.

The Priddy Lady Pirates and Pirates swept the District 18-1A basketball championships this season.

The Priddy girls went undefeated in district for the second consecutive season, while the boys — 10-1 in district with one game remaining — have clinched the title after missing the playoffs last season for just the second time in 28 years.

But those bits of history don't tell the whole story.

Both Priddy teams were forced to maneuver through a season with multiple players unavailable for extended stretches, mainly because of COVID-19. Some were starters; others were backups. The Priddy girls played one game with no backup post player and just one reserve on the bench. The Priddy boys played three district games with only six players.

Yet the Lady Pirates have a 17-3 record after Monday’s 55-28 win over Jonesboro in a tune-up game for the upcoming Class 1A playoffs. Meanwhile, the Pirates are 12-4 overall after clinching the district title with Tuesday’s 57-35 win over Zephyr.

“We’re fortunate this year to have 13 girls. There have been years when we only had six,” fourth-year Lady Pirates coach Jimmie Cain said. “If we had started this season with six players — with all that’s happened — we would have had to postpone and rescheduled some district games. We possibly would have had to forfeit some games.”

Priddy's Rianne Hurst leads the Lady Pirates in scoring and rebounding during the 2020-21 basketball season.

The Lady Pirates made it through a stretch of district games with starting guard Sydney Partin out for an extended period, along with top reserves Emma Martin and MaKyna Harvey, plus two other reserves.

In early January, starting point guard Lindsey Grelle was out a couple of weeks with a leg injury. Also, backup guard Danielle Goehmann missed the first two weeks of the season in December.

When Goehmann returned in early January, she and freshman guard Zoey Ward elevated into larger roles while the Lady Pirates dealt with a revolving door of players in and out.

Three starters — junior forward Rianne Hurst, junior guard Alyssa Hurst and freshman forward Emily Andrade — remained in the lineup and helped the Lady Pirates maintain consistency. The 5-foot-10 Rianne Hurst is the Lady Pirates’ leading scorer at 16.7 points per game and top rebounder at 7 per game. Andrade, one of two freshmen starters, averages 8 points and 5.3 rebounds.

“Alyssa Hurst is our best defensive player,” Cain said. “She’s also kind of a mother figure for the younger girls. She keeps everybody even-keeled and organized when everybody else is losing their heads.”

Grelle, the other freshman starter who averages 6.9 points and 2.4 assists, has also given a reliable presence since returning from her injury. Partin, a sophomore guard who averages 6.1 points, has also returned to the lineup — giving the Lady Pirates their full roster for the first time all season.

“We have everybody back now, and it’s a good time for that with the playoffs starting for us next week. Hopefully, that won’t change,” Cain said. “I feel like we’ve been through the most challenging part of our season, and now, we’re ready for the playoffs.”

The Priddy boys were forced to play without starting guard Javier DelBosque for six games and 6-2 post player Gabe DelBosque for five games. Keagan Wood, a 6-2 senior, missed one game, and senior forward Joey Hall missed games that ended up being canceled.

“We were missing so many guys at the same time that a lot of them had to play out of position,” longtime Pirates coach Curtis Hurst said. “Two big keys for us were Marcus Gutierrez and Luke Breum. They didn’t show up in the scoring column, but they played their roles. Marcus started and ran the offense and didn’t turn the ball over. Luke was our only player off the bench for a stretch there.”

Veteran guard Hunter Gutierrez was a consistent presence in the lineup, but guard Zackery Ward put the Pirates over the top in the district race. During three shorthanded games in January, the 5-10 sophomore scored 25 points against Zephyr, 31 against Evant, and 27 against Blanket. Ward also scored 25 points in Tuesday’s district-clinching win.

“Back in January, it was like, ‘What’s next?’ ” Hurst said. “If we have all our players, I’m pretty confident. But you can’t count on anything this year.”

Around the area

The playoff-bound Brownwood boys (13-9, 4-3) will play at Lampasas (18-4, 4-3) at 6:15 p.m. Friday for the No. 2 playoff seed in the final District 6-4A regular season game. Brownwood fell to No. 19-ranked Glen Rose 43-35 Tuesday after the Lions failed to score in the third quarter. Jakob Hataway and Christian Kinzler combined for 21 points in the Lions’ final home game.

The Brownwood Lady Lions saw their 11-year playoff streak end with Monday’s 51-36 loss to Lampasas in a playoff for the No. 4 seed in District 6-4A. Brownwood shot 21% from the field and scored just four points in the third quarter.

The No. 8-ranked May girls lost their District 13-1A playoff game against No. 9 Eula 48-45 on Tuesday. May is facing Highland in bidistrict at 7 p.m. Friday in Winters. It's the final game of a tripleheader that includes Eden-Blackwell at 3 p.m. and Santa Anna-Irion County at 5 p.m.

The Zephyr girls, who finished second in District 18-1A, will face Cherokee in bidistrict at 6:30 p.m. Friday at Hamilton. Zephyr beat Gustine 40-32 Tuesday in a playoff for the 2 seed.

The Blanket boys secured the No. 2 seed from District 18-1A with Tuesday’s 56-26 win over Evant as Angelo State football signee Tyler Simpson scored 28 points.

In District 29-2A, the Goldthwaite boys handed San Saba, the reigning Region IV-2A champion, its first district loss 48-45 Tuesday despite Armadillos forward Logan Glover enjoying a perfect shooting night. The 6-foot-5 Glover was 13-of-13 from the field and 1-of-1 from the foul line and scored 27 points. But San Saba lost 20 turnovers that Goldthwaite converted into 21 points. The Eagles got 22 points from guard Brecken Reyes.

San Saba (16-4, 10-1) can still win the District 29-2A boys championship by beating Johnson City on Friday. Goldthwaite (11-6, 9-2) can secure the No. 2 seed by beating Center Point on Friday.

In the District 29-2A girls race, San Saba went to Mason last Friday, Feb. 5, with a 22-0 record and a No. 3 state ranking. The Lady Dillos left Mason that night with a 22-1 record and a No. 2 playoff seed in the district. Tenth-ranked Mason edged San Saba 36-34 as post Lauren Olson and guard Tristin Keller combined for 22 points. Mason (18-5 overall) and San Saba finished tied for the district title at 11-1, but the Cowgirls won a flip for the No. 1 seed. Guard Courtnee Cash, the Lady Dillos’ top scorer, was held to one field goal in two games against the Cowgirls this regular season.