For those wondering if the Granbury Pirates can keep up with the fast pace of the Fort Worth teams in District 7-4A, they can, as they showed in a 60-51 semifinals victory against district foe Southwest Friday.
It was the slower, more determined pace of the Nolan Catholic Vikings, a nondistrict opponent, that kept the Pirates from winning the championship of the Granbury Van Griffith Tournament.
Nolan (15-0) did what the Vikings have done all season in the best start in school history. They didn’t panic when the Pirates (6-5) jumped out on top 18-10.
Instead, Nolan made very few turnovers (8), made good shot selections, and forced the Pirates into bad shot choices in the second half to win 53-47.
Still, the Pirates were in position to win their first home tournament since 2008 with a minute and a half to play.
But Nolan sealed the championship by going 6-for-7 at the free throw line in that span.
Granbury, meanwhile, did not shoot a single free throw in the fourth quarter.
“We had a breakthrough win, and we had a good tournament,” said Granbury coach David Breazeale, whose team lost at home for the first time in sux games this season.
“Playing Nolan prepared us for Aledo, and playing Southwest prepared us for everybody else in our district.”
Saturday’s performance, albeit a loss, also answered another question for Breazeale. How the Pirates would fare after coming off an emotional victory against Southwest, a team that had blown out its first two tourney opponents.
“They handled success well,” he said. “We won an emotional game and came back and played at a high level the next night.
“But I don’t ever want the kids satisfied.”
Nolan had just two turnovers in the first half, both on Granbury steals. Still, Granbury’s hot shooting, led by four 3-pointers from Jacob Taylor, kept the Pirates in front until Nolan’s Landon Russell hit a 3-pointer with five seconds to go before halftime for a 29-27 lead.
The Pirates took their final lead of the game, 32-31, on Brandon Fichter’s 3-pointer a couple minutes into the third quarter. They then missed their next six shots as Nolan scored eight straight points to cap a 16-5 run.
Granbury got no closer than three points the rest of the night.
“This wasn’t a little scare they threw at us, it was a game,” said Nolan coach Steve Prud’homme. “Granbury fully expected to win.
“They went right with Southwest Friday, and I didn’t expect that. These guys are a scrappy man-to-man team.”
Taylor led Granbury with 15 points, all on 3-point baskets. Nolan was led by Michael Sarratt with 19, while 6-8 post Michael Hoffman, who has signed to play with Lafayette, scored 14 with 12 rebounds and five blocked shots.
Hoffman was named the tournament’s most valuable player.
Nolan outrebounded Granbury 26-17, with Kory Rafferty topping the Pirates with eight. The Vikings finished 19-for-45 from the field (3-for-10 on 3-pointers) and 12-for-18 at the line, while Granbury was 17-for-44 (6-for-19 on 3s) and 7-for-11 at the line.
The Pirates forced Nolan into eight turnovers, five by Granbury steals. And the Pirates had one of their better games holding onto the ball with only 13 turnovers.
“They’re very talented, very well-coached, and all seniors, and our boys hung with them,” said Granbury assistant coach Josh Jones.
“But now we expect to win these games, and it’s tough when we don’t.”
The Pirates have come very close to reaching the playoffs, something they haven’t done since 1999, each of the past four seasons. Breazeale said that while he is impressed with his team’s performance in the tournament, the time for moral victories is past.
“If Brock were playing Nolan Catholic and lost by one, nobody in Brock would call it a moral victory,” he said.
“We’re ready for more, and I believe we can get it.”
OPENING SOME EYES
In the semifinals, the Pirates faced a Southwest team that had decimated its first two opponents with its run-and-gun style.
The Pirates silenced those with questions by beating the Raiders (5-6) at their own game.
Southwest launched 32 shots from 3-point range. However, because almost every one had a Granbury player’s hand or two as an obstacle, the Raiders hit just five (19 percent).
Meanwhile, the Pirates got five 3-pointers from Collin McCann and were 6-for-17 (35 percent) from downtown.
Granbury led by as many as 14 points in the first half, 33-19. Still, McCann said he knew the Raiders had a rally in them, and sure enough their tenacious full-court press forced 11 second-half turnovers for the Pirates, and Southwest took the lead, 51-50, with 3:34 left.
“We knew it would be a game of runs,” he said. “It got really hectic there late, but we just stayed calm.”
That’s when Fichter took over. He scored eight points as Granbury ended the game with a 10-0 run and Southwest imploded.
The Raiders were 0-for-6 from the field in the final three minutes. In addition, they had a couple of turnovers, a technical foul on a player, and a subsequent ejection of that same player.
Southwest finished 17-for-58 (29 percent) overall from the field and 12-for-15 at the line. Granbury was 19-for-41 (46 percent) and 16-for-29. Southwest won the rebound battle (36-26), with Fichter grabbing seven for the Pirates, but Granbury forced 22 turnovers and committed 17.
The Pirates’ bench outscored Southwest’s reserves 33-13.
“This shoots our confidence through the roof,” said McCann. “We’ve been up big in a couple of games and blew it, but not tonight, and with this being a team from district it reminds us that we can hold our own.”
McCann was referring to two games in the Joshua Tournament the previous week. Granbury had double-digit leads on Saginaw and Brewer, only to lose both.
“I told them at the half (against Southwest) not to worry about the score or the clock until I told them to,” said Breazeale. “I said, ‘We’re going to play the fourth quarter like it’s the second quarter.”
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Van Griffith Kia Basketball Tournament
FW Southwest 10 14 20 7 – 51
Granbury 20 13 14 13 – 60
Granbury (6-4) scoring – Collin McCann 17, Brandon Fichter 15, Kevin Hennard 9, Kory Rafferty 7, Jacob Taylor 4, Will Brawner 3, J.D. Hohnstreiter 2, Jimmy Hodges 1.
Southwest (5-6) scoring leader – Victor Holmes 24.
3-pointers – Granbury McCann 5, Fichter 1. Southwest: Holmes 2, Ashmond Williams 1, Brandon Hawkins 1, Josh Foster 1.
Rebounds – Granbury: Fichter 7. Southwest: Holmes 12.
Granbury assists – Clay Brawner 4.
Granbury steals – W. Brawner 3.
Granbury blocks – Rafferty 2.
Free throws – Granbury 16-29. Southwest 12-15.
Nolan Catholic 8 21 14 10 – 53
Granbury 15 12 11 9 – 47
Granbury (6-5) scoring – Taylor 15, Fichter 11, Hennard 10, Hodges 4, Rafferty 3, C. Brawner 2, Nick Doughty 2.
Nolan (15-0) scoring leaders – Michael Sarratt 19, Michael Hoffman 14, Landon Russell 11.
3-pointers – Granbury: Taylor 5, Fichter 1. Nolan: Russell 2, Sarratt 1.
Rebounds – Granbury: Rafferty 8. Nolan: Hoffman 12.
Granbury assists – C. Brawner 3.
Granbury steals – Fichter 2.
Free throws – Granbury 7-11. Nolan 12-18.