Tenaha Falls To Dallardsville Big Sandy In Regional Championship For Second Straight Year
JEWETT -- In ways, Tenaha was playing with house money.
But if you reach the Class 2A Region III championship game and are a victory away from playing in the Alamodome, you want to win.
Dallardsville Big Sandy was just too much for a Tigers lineup of two freshmen, two sophomores and one star senior. The state's No. 1 team in the classification built a 20-point lead at halftime and cruised to a 70-45 win Saturday at Leon High School in Jewett.
Big Sandy, which also eliminated Tenaha in the same game last season en route to finish as state runner-up, safely escaped to the state tournament next week in San Antonio once again.
"As expected a little bit, I thought we were a little big eyed in the first half," Tenaha head coach Greg Jenkins said. "When I say that, I don't mean to take anything away from Big Sandy. They execute well, and at this time of the year it's about execution. They've got four seniors that have played together. I thought they executed great.
"I think we're going to look at the film and see that it's over effort, maybe. Just wanting to cover somebody so much. When they would run through, we'd go with them and it would leave the backside open."
Big Sandy (38-2) recorded 10 assists without the scorer taking a dribble for 23 points in its 25-point win. Senior forward Zach Dickens led the squad with 24 points, a surprise because guard Angel Bullock is the team's leading scorer and dominated the meeting with a more experienced Tenaha club last season.
Colton Goeke quietly put up a game-high 29 points for the No. 4 Tigers (25-9) in his last high school contest. The next leading scorers on his side managed six points.
Big Sandy made up Goeke's difference with two other players in double figures. Guards Benson Williams and Bullock scored 15 and 14 points, respectively.
It was the closest score Big Sandy has played to through the postseason.
"I've been doing this for a long time and I've been in Region III for a long time," Jenkins said. "They remind me of the Ponder and Brock (dynasty) teams. They have seven or eight kids that can always handle the ball, pass the ball and shoot the ball. What we didn't game plan for, that we can't because they do a lot of other things, was (Dickens). He was just a beast."
The first half of the regional title meeting closed as a 38-18 affair. Incidentally, that was Big Sandy's largest lead in the same span.
Tenaha moved the momentum needle a little with a 5-0 run midway through the third quarter to make it a 15-point game but then conceded a 10-2 counter run over the period's last four minutes.
Big Sandy's lead hit 26 points multiple times in the fourth quarter. The Tigers' thoughts moved to the 2016-2017 campaign.
Aside from experience, preseason continuity will be in the program's favor next season.
Jenkins, promoted from assistant coach, replaced Todd Bodden after last year's regional championship loss, so there was a learning curve. Furthermore, the Tenaha football team went to a regional championship game of its own and delayed the start of the season.
"They'll enter our system next year on day one," Jenkins said. "We'll be better off because we won't have to go through the small stuff with teaching it. We think we've got two or three eighth graders that are going to be ready. We know we've got at least three or four kids on the bench. I think our depth is going to be really good at this level."
Tenaha will return 11 of 13 players from its playoff roster.
On the same hand, there are repercussions to losing Goeke and fellow senior Isaiha Gentry.
Goeke was the team's leading scorer and Jenkins credits Gentry for being a good locker room example.
"That's always the toughest part as a coach," Jenkins said. "To let go of the seniors and everything they've done for you. They really sold out to everything I asked. That's not easy coming from another coach into another one. Hate to see them go. I really hate it."
No. 1 Dallardsville Big Sandy 70, No. 4 Tenaha 45
Boys Class 2A Region III Championship Game
At Leon High School, Jewett
Tenaha 12 6 12 15 -- 45
Big Sandy 21 17 15 17 -- 70
TENAHA (25-9) -- Colton Goeke 29, Trai Gardner 6, Ja'Qualin Franks 6, Cody Foshee 4.
BIG SANDY (38-2) -- Zach Dickens 24, Benson Williams 15, Angel Bullock 14, Joseph Williams 8, Layton VonBerg 5, Samuel Richard 4.
THREE-POINT GOALS -- Tenaha: Goeke (4). Big Sandy: Bullock (2), VonBerg, Williams.