Top Sports Stories of 2013

January 1, 2014

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They did what no other volleyball team had ever done at Granbury High.

Most victories: 41.

Deepest playoff run: regional finals.

Best start to a season: 17-0.

Highest state ranking: Fourth.

And they generated more excitement than the program has ever known.

For this reason, the success of the Granbury Lady Pirates in the 2013 season is the top sports story of the year in the Hood County News:

1. GHS VOLLEYBALL

HAS BEST SEASON EVER

The season began with a trip to Hawaii and the tournament championship. They returned home to win their own tournament for first time in coach Tammy Clark’s 11 seasons.

And by the time the season ended in early November, they had posted a 41-6 record.

The Lady Pirates reached the championship match of the 4A Region I Tournament in Abilene. It took eventual state champion Amarillo to end their season.

“Forty-one wins in a season. Wow!” said Clark after her team’s 3-0 regional finals loss to Amarillo High Saturday at Moody Coliseum in Abilene.

“I never thought we’d get 41 wins in a season.”

On their way to that mark they shared their third district championship in four seasons, this time with perennial power Aledo. The Lady Pirates’ come-from-behind 3-2 victory at the James Wann Sports Center was one of the most exciting events played in that building, a place in which they would go 16-0 during the season.

In the regional semifinals, the Lady Pirates had perhaps the biggest comeback in team history. They trailed Dumas 2-0, but rallied to win the next three games to advance to the finals.

Two members of the team, junior Aubrey Ezell and sophomore Karis Beasley, were named to the Texas Girls Coaches Association Class 4A All-State Team.

Ezell set team records for assists in a season (1,438) and career (3,120), along with records for aces in a season (153) and career (261).

Also, junior Breanna Crain set the team record for digs in a season (751), and her career total of 1,372 is four shy of breaking former Lady Pirate Sierra Smith’s career mark of 1,375.

2. PIRATE FOOTBALL HAS

BEST SEASON IN FIVE DECADES

In any other year, this might very well have been the top story. The Pirates began the season 8-0, something that had not been done since the 1966 team played for a state championship. They finished 9-2, the most wins since the 1967 team finished 9-1-1.

The Pirates thrilled their fans with nail-biting victories (44-41 over Mansfield Lake Ridge, 24-21 over South Hills), late comebacks from two touchdowns behind (49-40 over Southwest, 37-30 over Arlington Heights), and a fourth consecutive trip to the playoffs.

Sure, there was a 72-6 loss at 4A Division II state champion Aledo in the ninth game, and a 56-21 bidistrict loss to Waco. But all in all, no Pirate team won more games in a season than this one since the much-talked-about powerhouse teams of the mid-to-late 1960s.

Led by junior quarterback Ryan Suitt, one of the top signal-callers in the Fort Worth area, the Pirates finished second in District 7-4A behind Aledo.

Perhaps the team’s most notable victory was in their first game of the season. They traveled to Wichita Falls and won 27-13 over the Coyotes (8-6), who went on to advance to the fourth round of the playoffs before being eliminated by Aledo 69-14.

3. GRANBURY TENNIS DUO

REACHES STATE

In a period of time that goes even further back than the football team’s previous equaled success, Kate Bramlett and Elizabeth Morton became the first GHS players to reach the State Tennis Tournament since Betty Degan won the 2A singles title in 1962.

Bramlett and Morton won both District 7-4A and Region I to earn their state berth. Despite not having played together much before late in the spring season, they fashioned a 19-3 record, losing in the state quarterfinals of girls doubles to Highland Park’s Maddie Gordon and Elizabeth Burgos, 6-3, 6-1.

For Bramlett, the berth at state came on the heels of coming close to qualifying at the previous two regional tournaments, once in singles and once in mixed doubles with her brother James Bramlett.

Bramlett and Morton are back together this year as seniors.

4. PIRATES HAVE SECOND-BEST

SOCCER SEASON IN team HISTORY

The Pirates finished with a record of 20-4-5, becoming only the second GHS soccer team to win 20 games in a season.

The Pirates advanced to the 4A Region I quarterfinals (fourth round) before being eliminated 2-0 by Wichita Falls Rider.

Granbury outscored its opponents 54-19 and allowed one goal or less in 20 games, also posting 14 shutouts. In district they outscored their opponents 34-5, and no one scored more than a single goal against them.

The Pirates won a fifth consecutive district championship and finished with the second most victories since the program started in 1988.

Only the 1999 state championship team (21-1) had more victories and shutouts (15).

5. PIRATES END LONG

BASKETBALL PLAYOFFS ABSENCE

It wasn’t quite the playoff drought of more than three decades the football team ended in 2010, but it was a drought nonetheless that came to an end last February.

Coach David Breazeale led the Pirates to a fourth-place finish in District 7-4A. Sure, the season ended in bidistrict with a 74-46 loss to Waco University, but that was one game more than Pirate hoops fans had experienced in over a dozen years.

When the University Interscholastic League (UIL) realignment put them in the same district with the top five teams from what was previously an all-Fort Worth district, things looked bleak. Some questioned whether they’d even win a game in district. They had NO starters returning, and what little varsity experience they had could be put in a small-sized sneaker.

But the Pirates, in finishing 17-15, ignored all naysayers, and for the first time in a long time, area basketball fans were getting ready to watch the girls AND boys in the postseason.

6. CHRIS RICHARDSON RUNS

TO STATE TRACK MEET

Just one season after experiencing heartbreak, Richardson turned in one of the most memorable track seasons at Granbury High.

A hamstring injury prevented him from competing at district as a junior after he had finished fourth at regionals as a sophomore. He more than made up for that, however.

Richardson set school records in both the 400-meter (48.57) and 200 (21.78) dashes. He advanced to state in the 400, becoming the first boy from GHS to reach state since Brad Gardner in the 300 hurdles in 2004.

In fact, Richardson set the 400 record twice. The first time was when he clocked a 48.96 in Mineral Wells early in the season, and the second was when he finished second at regionals.

The 200 record was set at the Bearcat Relays in Aledo.

7. GRANBURY BOYS GOLF

RETURNS TO STATE

Led by Travis Benson, arguably the best golfer ever at Granbury High, the Pirates played in the 4A State Golf Tournament for the first time since 2002.

The Pirates finished sixth overall. This came after taking second at district and second at regionals.

The year before, Benson, now playing for New Mexico State, finished third in the state playing as an individual. He told his coach, Steve Ward, one thing was missing – his teammates.

8. TOLAR VAULTER MABERY

MAKES THIRD TRIP TO STATE

Reagan Mabery knows better than to make other plans in early May. The Tolar vaulter is a regular at the 2A State Track Meet.

Mabery, a senior this year, is coming off a third consecutive appearance at state. She finished fifth, after having taken sixth as a sophomore and fourth as a freshman.

Mabery matched her personal best of 11 feet to win regionals and qualify for state.

Mabery was joined by sophomore Rodie Brister. In his first trip to state, he took sixth with a 13-6 effort. He set the school record of 14 feet in winning regionals.

9. GRANBURY SEALS SWIM

TO BEST SUMMER EVER

In what has become a summer tradition, the Granbury SEALS Swim Team sent a large group of competitors to the Texas Amateur Athletic Federation Games of Texas.

But this year they sent the most in team history, 58 to be exact.

The competitors won 27 medals, including 13 gold, 7 silver and 7 bronze. They also set six state records.

Keith Rucker, swimming in the Men’s 60-64 age group, led the way with four gold medals. He also established four four state records.

As a team, the SEALS finished seventh in the state, their highest finish in club history.

Four members of the team went on to compete in the State Games of America in Hershey, Penn. They are Matthew Walters (9-10 boys), Andrew Walters (11-12), David Fauber (11-12), and Avery Buchanan (11-12 girls).

Then, to cap off the season, the only head coach the team has ever had, Janet Steenberge, was chosen for induction into the Texas Amateur Athletic Federation Hall of Fame.

10 LIPAN ENJOYS BEST

SPRING SPORTS SEASON

Long known for the success of its boys and girls basketball teams in the winter months, Lipan High School had an unforgettable spring sports season – best in school history.

In track, four athletes qualified for the Class A State Meet, freshmen Lanie Roberts (800-meter run), Catherine Thormann (1600), and Shelby Bontke (300 hurdles), along with junior Jorge Hernandez (long jump).

Boys and girls golf qualified for regionals. In tennis, Brenda Ibarra qualified for regionals.

And, in baseball, the Indians advanced to bidistrict for the first time since 2006, posting a school record of 10-7. Despite losing a best-of-three bidistrict series, they got their first postseason baseball win in school history.

And, to cap the spring, Niquel Barnett qualified for state in academics.

[email protected] | 817-573-7066, ext. 256

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