To win a State Championship in any classification in Texas you have to be very good, and very lucky. You must run a gauntlet of 7 victories to capture that prize. Last night in Amarillo, the Clarendon journey came to an end in the 3rd round with a decisive loss to Panhandle, 56-32.
It was the third meeting of the season, with Panhandle winning the previous two decisively. You have to play the games of course and anything can happen but the outcome was as expected from my point of view. Panhandle was bigger, longer, more skilled and
they also started 5 seniors. They also have a larger student body to choose from. Those aren't excuses they are facts.
Clarendon scored the first 3 points of the game and had several other good looks they couldn't convert before Panhandle finally broke the ice. The Pantherettes rattled off the next 18 points, for the 18-3 lead. They are a disciplined team offensively and they play a tenacious brand of man to man D and they understand help principles very well. This all translated into very few good shot opportunities for Clarendon. The combination of low percentage shots and a whopping 25 turnovers collectively sealed their fate.
The half time score was 29-10 with Panhandle absolutely throttling the Lady Broncos. It looked like they were going to get steam rolled. However, the Clarendon girls did not want to go out in that fashion and in the 3rd quarter they turned up their own defensive efforts, outscoring Panhandle 13-8 in the 3rd period. Junior Jade Benson was the offensive catalyst as she had a rare 4 point play during the run.
This game was called extremely tightly. Both teams were in the bonus in the 3rd quarter, and then with only a minute gone in the 4th, Panhandle was shooting the double bonus. They missed some, but in essence they made a living at the free throw line. Despite the foul trouble and being outgunned the Lady Broncos dug deep. They narrowed the deficit to 9 points early in the final stanza.
Making a run is tiresome and that was all Clarendon had in the gas tank. With 4:23 Senior Matte Johnson fouled out, finishing her career with 4 points/6 rebounds. MaKayla Brown went down with injury with barely a minute left and she finished her career with a 2 point/4 rebound effort. Panhandle scored the last 14 points of the game on layups as Clarendon gamely pressured full court trying to make something happen.
This was a great season by the Lady Broncos. I know there's disappointment now but Coach Korey Conkin, her coaching staff and the players got the most out of this season. I really enjoyed covering them, it was my pleasure. There were many highlights. They're all great kids. Parents, you should be proud of your daughter's efforts as they NEVER QUIT.
Most of them will never wear a BASKETBALL uniform again but they can all look in the mirror and know they gave every last drop of effort. This sprit of this team was captured in Senior Guard Kira Weatherton who despite having what most kids would consider a season ending knee injury before Christmas rested a month and came back on her bad wheel and toughed it out late in the season. It was nice to see her end her career on the floor last night.