AUSTIN — Waelder erased early deficits, relying on their defense as they have all season, to come within striking distance from LaPoynor in last Friday’s Region IV-1A semifinal game. But after going down two with 20 seconds to go, the Wildcats were unable to convert another basket, ultimately losing 62-58 to the top-ranked team in the state according to the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches’ rankings.
“I just think it shows the resilience, that they keep on fighting, keep trusting that our defense is going to carry us,” Waelder head coach David Graves said of the Wildcats’ comeback. “That’s been our backbone all year and those seniors have no quit in them. At the end of the day, I failed them. This is on me. Nothing to do with their heart.”
The Wildcats started the game down 11-2 early on, before running off an 18-9 run with three pointers scored by Isaiah Jones-Miller and Jacovan Fields. Miller ended the quarter with 11 points, while Fields added five and Colby Thorne had four. But in the second quarter, the Wildcats were outscored 14-8, ending the half down 10.
Graves believed the loose rebounds proved to be the factor in the game.
Despite those struggles, the Wildcats again came back going down as big as 12 points with 6 minutes left in the third quarter. Jones-Miller had another big quarter, scoring nine of the Wildcats’ 23 points that frame. Thorne added six while Fields had five and Junior Satterwhite had three. Waelder ended the fourth quarter down just 52-51.
But the offense couldn’t get going in the final period, scoring just seven points to LaPoynor’s 10, losing the game by four points.
Jones-Miller finished the game with a team-leading 23 points. Fields added 13 while Thorne had 12. Other scorers include Satterwhite with five points, Orlando Ford with three points and Marco Jaimes with two points.
With the loss, Waelder Wildcats end the season as the fourth ranked team in TABC, undefeated District 30-1A champions and Region IV-1A semifinalists. Prior to the season, the Wildcats were unranked, projected as the third place team out of district. The team used this as fuel to get back to the regional tournament.
“To do what we did, beat 14 ranked teams, keep going, it says a lot about their heart,” Graves said of his team. “They come from a rough background, they don’t let it get them down. They fight through everything.”
“I’m going to miss our seniors,” he added. “I love them. I’m just thankful for them. Our youth is very talented and we’ve got a lot coming through. We’re still going to be in the same boat, we’re still going to be here, we’re going to get over the hump. As long as I’m standing here, we’re going to get over the hump.”