Clarendon’s quick start leads to Thorndale’s exit from state tournament


The Broncos are aiming for a Panhandle sweep of Class 2A basketball.

Several key players for Thorndale will be back next season.

There’s something about the Texas Panhandle that brings out the best in boys and girls basketball teams.

After Clarendon raced past Thorndale 59-35 Friday in a Class 2A boys state semifinal inside the Alamodome, Broncos players said they feel pressure to keep up with their high school’s girls team, which qualified for the postseason out of a district that included Panhandle, the eventual Class 2A state champion.

On Saturday, the Broncos boys will complete a Panhandle sweep of Class 2A basketball if they can knock off top-ranked Muenster.

On Friday, Clarendon center Marshall Johnson had 18 points and eight rebounds while forward Cameron Smith tallied 17 points and 12 boards in a surprisingly easy victory over the Bulldogs. The Broncos (32-2) built a 39-16 lead by halftime while improving their winning streak to 17 games.

Three teams from the Texas Panhandle — Nazareth, Canyon and Panhandle — claimed state championships at the UIL girls tournament last week. Johnson, a 6-foot-5 senior, hopes the Broncos add to the region’s tradition of basketball excellence with a victory Saturday.

“We have football, too, but we take basketball to heart,” he said.

Clarendon coach Brandt Lockhart estimated that the boys on his team had played roughly 200 games together since the sixth grade.

“I coached in the Metroplex, and there are a lot of great teams, but there’s a lot of things to do there, too,” Lockhart said. “In the Panhandle, there’s not as many things to do, so we strive on playing basketball.”

Thorndale (27-10) watched its hopes of claiming a third state title vanish quickly. Clarendon outscored the Bulldogs 25-6 in the second quarter and never looked back.

Point guard Ty Prince, a 6-6 junior and Thorndale’s leading scorer with an average of 16 points a game, was held to six points Friday. Sophomore forward Sam Reaves led the Bulldogs with seven points, down from his season average of 14.

Thorndale shot 31.3 percent from the field and was outrebounded 39-32. Clarendon’s 13 offensive boards gave the Broncos several second-chance opportunities.

“Our theme is to always give someone one shot,” Thorndale coach John Kovar said. “If it goes in, we’ll just give them a high-five after the game, but if it doesn’t, we’re getting every other rebound. … The ball just didn’t go in the basket the way it has in the previous five basketball games.”

Thorndale took its only lead of the game at 10-9 after a bucket by guard Ashton Albert with 3 minutes, 10 seconds to play in the first quarter. But Clarendon outscored Thorndale 30-6 for the remainder of the first half.

While there are “no guarantees” in basketball, Kovar said, he’s optimistic his young team will be back at state in 2018. Like Prince, Albert and Logan Fisher are juniors.

Friday’s state semifinal, though, was the final high school game for three Thorndale seniors — guard Ruben Briones and forwards Josh Iselt and Ryan Biar.

Despite the loss, all three can say they were a part of a program that sent teams to state in back-to-back seasons.

“We’re like one big family in Thorndale,” Briones said. “Being part of both of these teams has been amazing.”

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in High School Sports

Countdown to Texas’ kickoff: 11 days
Countdown to Texas’ kickoff: 11 days

Let’s use Texas’ roster, history and scouting reports to countdown to the start of the 2017 football season. Today, we are only 11 days away from Texas’ home game against Maryland. Which Longhorn wears No. 11? For a third straight season, No. 11 will be worn by defensive back P.J. Locke III. A nickelback,...
Houston feels 100 percent, which hasn't been true for nearly 2 years
Houston feels 100 percent, which hasn't been true for nearly 2 years

Justin Houston has never been much for speaking publicly or to reporters, so when approached in the locker room here he frowned and flexed his neck and generally gave the vibe of a man who'd rather be stuffed in traffic. I just want to know how you're feeling. Neck loosened. Frown washed. "I'm feeling great, man," he said. "I'm good...
The inside story on how Tony Romo went from Cowboys to CBS analyst
The inside story on how Tony Romo went from Cowboys to CBS analyst

Tony Romo hasn't missed the grind of Cowboys training camp for one sweat-soaked second. For 14 years, it had been part of his summer routine. Now it seems ancient history. "Haven't had time," he said when the conversation turned to nostalgia in an interview last week. No regrets, Romo said. He has discovered a new grind. At age 37, he is...
Waiting on QB still best if you're starting one
Waiting on QB still best if you're starting one

One key to drafting a winning fantasy football team is to construct a roster with as much depth as possible at almost every position.  To accomplish this goal, you need to have a firm grasp of the talent at each position relative to the other positions across the entire player pool. People new to fantasy football often think that because there...
Boise State, Wyoming make the Mountain West a little lopsided
Boise State, Wyoming make the Mountain West a little lopsided

There's a definite tilt to the Mountain part of the Mountain West this season. Boise State is Boise State. Wyoming has a credible NFL prospect at quarterback. Colorado State came on strong late last season and is experienced. Air Force and New Mexico have offensive systems that work, even if their defensive personnel is a bit untested. The West Division...
More Stories