Young Indians end season with semi loss to Graford
Lipan Indian basketball coach Brent Gaylor started the year hoping his team could get back to the regional tournament.
But though the Indians’ season ended Friday in a 58-45 loss to Graford in the regional semis at Mansfield Legacy High School, there were points this year when Gaylor thought his team might be state-caliber.
“I thought, man, we’re a lot farther along and a lot better than I had anticipated us being at that time,” Gaylor said. “We really started clicking midway through the first half of district. I liked our chances going into Friday.”
Lipan held a 12-9 lead over Graford after one, but the Jackrabbits won the second quarter 15-4 and the third quarter 12-4 to lead 36-20 entering the fourth.
Gaylor said he expected to lose the rebounding battle, but didn’t expect Graford to out-rebound Lipan 42-21. That helped the Jackrabbits limit Lipan’s second chances and get putbacks of their own.
“I knew we were going to have to make shots against Graford because of how big they are,” Gaylor said. “We weren’t going to have many second-chance opportunities.”
But the Indians weren’t done yet. Lipan mounted a furious comeback, cutting the lead to eight with 1:40 to go. Garret Smith knocked down four three-pointers in the fourth quarter.
Lipan couldn’t complete the comeback, however. The Indians’ season ended with a 26-11 record.
Smith and Tate Branson led the Indians with 12 points. Tripp Phillips scored 10, Tate Harrison had six, Weston Vance scored three and Cody Harwell had two.
The story of Lipan’s season revolved around the freshman class. The Indians started three freshmen and carried five on the roster.
This group is hungry, Gayfor said, and despite facing a jump to Class 2A in 2021-22, the Indians expect to make a deeper playoff run next year.
“We got beat Friday night, and then Saturday evening I go up there and there’s about four or five of those boys already back in the gym getting back to work, still upset from the night before,” Gaylor said. “They were getting ready for next year, all excited and talking about it, and so was I.”
Hatcher Heavyside was the lone senior on the roster for the Indians this year. Heavyside moved into the starting center role and stretched out defenses with his shooting touch from the outside.
“He’s been a great asset for our program. He’s a great kid on and off the court,” Gaylor said. “I told him how much I appreciated him this past weekend.
“I don’t think we could’ve gotten to where we were without his senior leadership. He’s probably the most vocal guy on the team.”
I LIPAN INDIAN BASKETBALL
3 Cole Reynolds, Fr.
11 Trent Harrison, Jr.
15 Jason Redwine, Soph.
22 Tripp Phillips, Fr.
23 Garrett Smith, Fr.
24 Weston Vance, Fr.
32 Cody Harwell, Soph.
34 Tate Branson, Fr.
35 Hatcher Heavyside, Sr.
42 Patrick Marcantonio, Soph.