AUSTIN — Waelder will have to wait another year before getting over that regional tournament hump as they lost 37-27 to the Leggett Pirates in the Region IV-1A finals at the Toney Burger Athletic Center, Saturday.
Tied 25-25 headed to the fourth quarter, the Wildcats’ struggled on offense, with their only score coming with 4:54 left in the game, a two-pointer by senior Isaiah Ewing.
“It was a tough three quarters,” Waelder Head Coach Jacob Garcia admitted. “Like I told you [after Friday’s win], sometimes you make shots, sometimes you miss shots. We were missing the shots that we were making yesterday and all season. That’s what it came down to. [Leggett is] a great team. They got some dogs over there, they got some defenders. They deserve it. We played hard. They’re sad right now but they’re not going to have their head down long. They’re ready for next season.”
Defensively, the Wildcats did as they usually do, frustrate their opponents and force them into attempting tough shots. In that first quarter, the Wildcats took an early 13-5 lead and continued their push going up 17-5 with 5:57 left in the second, but then the Pirates went on a 12-0 run to erase that Waelder lead, ending the half tied at 17.
“We did everything we needed to on defense, we just weren’t making our shots on offense,” Garcia said. “That’s the way it goes sometimes, you have an off day. We started off hot but just couldn’t continue.”
Leggett’s biggest lead was merely two points before the fourth quarter where they outscored Waelder 12-2, going 6-of-8 from the free-throw line.
The Wildcats end the season as Region IV-1A finalists, an accomplishment that Garcia believes critics didn’t think they’d achieve.
“It’s been a long ride, it’s been a good ride,” he noted. “We lost Tracy [Moore] last year. We lost a couple of guys who didn’t return because they chose not to. I don’t think a lot of people thought we weren’t going to get this far. It’s a great accomplishment for them.”
Ewing is Waelder’s lone senior of the squad. The accomplished post player was part of a team that reached the regional tournament all four seasons. When asked what the program will miss the most about him, Garcia mentioned the senior’s personality.
“[His] heart, intensity, laughter, he’s funny. Just everything,” Garcia said. “He’s a good kid. He’s smart. We’re going to miss everything. We’re going to miss his personality.”