The Clarendon Broncos traveled to Pampa, TX a neutral site for tonight's playoff opener with Sanford-Fritch. They prevailed 74-65 and were never seriously challenged down the stretch maintaining a constant 10 point lead until the final whistle.
I felt that this would be a cake walk for the Broncos having studied the metrics and common opponents, but that was before the suspension of Senior Jamal Butler. Butler picked up 2 technical fouls which invoked the mandatory one game suspension by the UIL. Of all the players on the Clarendon roster, the 6'5" Butler is the one that is most difficult to replace. He's a superior inside presence on the boards and always has several baskets from put backs because of his size and quick leaping ability.
There's no time for what ifs though, it's all about NEXT MAN UP.
The first quarter was a feeling out process where both teams seemed content to exchange baskets, literally for the first 8 minutes. Clarendon had the slight 17-15 lead at the end of the period. Whether the average defense was just a tad lackluster or perhaps by design, one huge positive is the normally "handsy" Clarendon defenders dialed it back a notch and came out of the opening period with no foul issues.
In the second quarter the Broncos began to amp it up on the defensive side of the ball and got out running. They're so so when playing in the half court, but get into a wide open run and gun game with them and the opponent will lose 9 times out of 10. Early on it was freshman Sylvester Ballard who picked up the rebounding slack. He battled larger players all night and finished with 10 points/7 boards. Junior Donovan Thompson was right there with Ballard as far as half time stats. He finished with 14 points/4 assists.
From half time onward, Sophomore Lamarcus Peniger took things in his own hands as he was a force on both ends. I'd like him to tighten up his ball handling a little but when he makes a mistake he digs in and often negates it on the defensive end. Peniger had 23 points/11 rebounds/7 assists. He was my Player of the Game.
Junior Jmaury Davis is physically closest to Butler, although not quite as tall at 6'2". However he's super explosive inside and can knock down the jumper out to 17 feet. He bullied Fritch for 19 points as the Broncos plucked the Eagles. Senior Collin Butler (5 points) played his most aggressive game of the year which is encouraging as extra scoring options will be needed at some point if the Broncos hope to continue to advance.
I felt they played a solid game, especially being short their big time front court leader. My only beef was at the free throw line. They finished 14-28 from the charity stripe. Gotta have those guys as ya'll attempt to advance!
Clarendon will travel to Canyon, TX/Randall HS to play Farwell in the 2nd round of the playoffs this Friday evening at 6:00 pm. Farwell slipped by Post tonight 39-37. Clarendon beat Farwell in a non district game, winning by 7 points before the New Year. Farwell also nipped New Home by one point, a team Clarendon beat by 10 points in last week's playoff warm up game.
If the Broncos prevail Tuesday it will set up a great 3rd round game against likely opponent, Gruver.