WAXAHACHIE – Early in Tuesday’s Class 4A basketball bidistrict game it appeared as though the underdog Granbury Pirates might have fate on their side.
Heavily favored Waco University had made four 3-point shots in the first quarter, but the Trojans had only a 2-point lead on the scrappy Pirates, 16-14.
But the Pirates and their faithful knew if the Trojans kept up their relentless shooting percentage, the night could turn into a long one for Granbury.
They did and it did.
University finished the game hitting 58 percent of its field goal attempts (29-for-50) and 50 percent (7-for-14) from 3-point range.
The Pirates just couldn’t keep up and lost their first bidistrict basketball game since the 1999-2000 season, 74-46.
“I’m watching warmups and they’re (University) throwing up curve balls,” said Granbury coach David Breazeale. “But that sure changed once the game started.”
A 24-7 run gave University (29-4) a 37-19 lead with 2:32 remaining in the first half. The Pirates (17-15) closed strong to pull within 38-26 at the half.
The surge of momentum didn’t carry over into the third quarter, however. University opened the second half with a 13-3 run.
The Pirates managed only three free throws for the first six minutes of the third quarter. They didn’t even ATTEMPT a field goal until the 4:40 mark thanks to University’s swarming defense that forced 19 turnovers in the game.
The Pirates got no closer than 15 points, 61-46, the rest of the game. University ended the game with a somewhat misleading 13-0 run as Breazeale emptied his bench to let everyone have the experience of being in a playoff game.
“Last year we took a step up, and this year we took two steps up,” said Breazeale. “Now the challenge is to keep progressing. Our district isn’t going away or going to get easier.”
The Pirates, who graduated all five starters last season, returned virtually no varsity experience for this season. Still, they were never below .500 at any point in district and avoided having a play-in game against rival Aledo by upsetting O.D. Wyatt 62-58 in the regular-season final at the James Wann Sports Center.
“That’s got to be one of the top 10 wins I’ve coached,” said Breazeale. “And I’ve been fortunate to coach a lot of special teams.”
During his career, Breazeale took a team to state at Graford and had several teams advance to the regional tournament at Godley. He also coached an overachieving Mineral Wells team to the playoffs before coming to Granbury three seasons ago.
Not only was this the Pirates’ first bidistrict season in 14 years, it was their first winning season since going 18-13 in 2003-04.
The Pirates didn’t shoot poorly against University, finishing 15-for-37 – and that was after going 2-for-10 in the fourth quarter. But it paled in comparison to University’s night, which included an 8-for-10 final period.
Sophomore guard Clay Brawner, one of 10 underclassmen who will return next season, led Granbury with 14 points. He also led in rebounds (four), assists (four) and steals (three).
Junior guard Jacob Taylor added 10 points, including three of the team’s five 3-pointers.
Another sophomore, wing Nick Doughty, scored nine points, and senior wing Brandon Fichter bid farewell with eight points.
“I’m thankful to the seniors,” said Breazeale. “Fichter gave us a lot of leadership when he came in. Jimmy Hodges played 110 basketball games (summer and fall select ball) to get ready for this thing.
“And we’ve got some great kids coming back. I hope we’ve started something here.”
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Class 4A boys bidistrict basketball
Granbury 14 12 12 8 – 46
Waco Univ. 18 20 17 19 – 74
Granbury (17-15) scoring – Clay Brawner 14, Jacob Taylor 10, Nick Doughty 9, Brandon Fichter 8, Kevin Hennard 3, Kory Rafferty 2.
University (30-4) leading scorers – Ray Washington 18, Zach Green 16, Kennrich Williams 15.
3-pointers – Granbury 5-11 (Taylor 3, Fichter 2), University 7-14.
2-pointers – Granbury 10-26, University 22-36.
Free throws – Granbury 9-15, University 9-18.
Rebounds – Granbury 15 (Brawner 4), University 26 (Williams 11).
Turnovers – Granbury 19, University 12 (Brawner 3 steals).