Sunday, December 17th, 2017

Broncos take 2nd at state

By Sandy Anderberg

The Clarendon Broncos closed out a stellar season Saturday, finishing as the Class 2A Runners-Up at the State Tournament, defeating Thorndale in the semi-finals Friday before losing to Muenster in the championship game.

The squad, led by four outstanding seniors, was a team made up of very unselfish players who all year looked down the road to San Antonio. The state championship was in their sight the entire season and they, along with the coaching staff, played every game with intensity and determination.

It was Clarendon’s first semi-final appearance since 2011, and the Broncos first time to play in the championship game since 1970.

In the post-championship game press conference Saturday, senior Bryce Grahn talked about the family relationship the team had and the absence of friend and teammate Riley Shadle, who suffered a severe spinal cord injury during a 2015 football game.

“We were very, very blessed. We put in a lot of hard work and a lot of hours – nights and mornings – that people don’t see,” Grahn said. “We’re thankful that our bodies are healthy and that God gave us an opportunity to do this. We have a friend at home who isn’t able to do this. Basketball is just a small piece of life. There’s a lot more after this. We were all very blessed to be here and have the community behind us.”

Coach Brandt Lockhart also said this Bronco team was unique for its closeness and having been together for many years.

“We’ve played 250 games probably since sixth grade,” Lockhart said. “This is a great group of kids. It’s a dream come true to get to come down here and play. All these guys brought us here.”

The semi-final game in San Antonio’s Alamodome on Friday, March 10, was exceptional in every way for the Broncos. Facing off against Thorndale, who was ranked 25th in the standings, the Broncos were on fire on both ends of the court.

Thorndale kept it close in the first quarter and even led by one early on. But the Broncos exploded in the second quarter and put the game out of reach for Thorndale. They led 39-16 at the half and never looked back and went on to win 59-35. They shot 43 percent from the field, 50 percent from the three-point line, and 38 percent from the free throw line.

At the buzzer, three players were in double figures and Bear Smith finished with a double double putting in 17 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. Marshal Johnson led with 18 points and eight rebounds, while Chance Lockhart helped with 10 points. Colt Wood six, Damarjae Cortez five, Bryce Grahn 2, and Caton Grahn one. Grahn added five rebounds, Wood and Lockhart each added four, Keandre Cortez had two, and D. Cortez grabbed one.

The Broncos went into the championship game very confident after their huge win. Muenster was ranked number one for most of the season, but the Broncos were determined. However, cold shooting plagued the Broncos and they fell short at 45-73.

Muenster jumped out to the early lead and led by 10 at the break. Despite struggling, the Broncos were still in the game. Colt Wood hit five three-pointers to help the Broncos stay close. The scoring in the second quarter was basically even and they were 80 percent from the three-point range. The Broncos were hoping for a momentum change in the second half, but they could not get anything rolling. Muenster’s height got the best of the Broncos and hindered their shots.

Despite the loss, the Broncos are an excellent team and they have had great successes this season. They were named District and Bi-District champs, Area and Regional champs, and State Runner-Up. It has been a great year. And their fellow Bronco Riley Shadle has not been far from their minds. Several of the Broncos noted that Riley has been a big part of their success and they credited him during the game at state.

Coach Lockhart knew he had a winning team. He stated that his kids have worked hard in the gym during practice and off times as well. According to Lockhart, the Broncos were dedicated and they wanted to win. They finished at 31-3 on the year and those losses came during the Bridgeport Tournament and the state championship game.

“It was a great year!” Lockhart said. “To be able to finish the year on the last day you can play… I have always wanted to coach on Championship Saturday. The players were awesome all year long, and I am so proud of them.”

Lockhart was also proud of the effort Alton Gaines gave during the season.

“Coach Gaines did an outstanding job assisting with the varsity as always,” he said. “The four seniors, Keandre Cortez, Chance Lockhart, Marshal Johnson, and Bryce Grahn did an outstanding job leading this team, and of course, Riley Shadle inspired us all. The whole team worked hard all season long. I am so proud to be State Runner-up.”

Scoring in the championship game: Wood 18, Johnson 11, Grahn five, Lockhart five, Smith four, and K. Cortez two.

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