HERALD Photo/Adam Coleman â Gradyâs Johan Wiebe goes up for the score during the Wildcatsâ 71-33 win over New Home in Mondayâs Class A Division II bi-district playoff game. The No. 11 Wildcats face No. 2 Anton in the area championship at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the Rip Griffin Center in Lubbock.
GAIL â The No. 11 Grady Wildcats didnât accomplish what they wanted to during the regular season â win the District 8A Division II crown.
However, before Mondayâs Class A Division II bi-district playoff game against New Home, Grady head coach Thomas Clay reminded his players they donât need that for a return trip to state.
âDistrict was a long drive, 14 games is a long time and we came up a little short of what we wanted to do there,â Clay said. âNow, I told them before the game 75 percent of all the teams in Texas are done. Weâre one of the few left playing and we want to continue to do that.â
The Wildcats got an emphatic start to their hopeful run back to the state championship with a 71-33 thrashing of New Home.
Shane Teague had a game-high 21 points for the Wildcats. Zeke Clay chipped in 14.
The Wildcats were just too fast for the Leopards. Grady jumped out to a 20-6 lead in the first quarter and went into halftime with a 40-9 lead. Their largest lead of the game was 44 points midway through the fourth.
This game was all about forcing turnovers and turning those into points, which Grady did often. Itâs a style of play Teague hopes takes this team far in the playoffs.
âThis is a good win for us because at the end of district. We werenât playing well,â he said. âFor us to win this big, for us to do well offensively and defensively, itâs pretty good for us.â
The Wildcatsâ reward for winning Mondayâs game doesnât look like much of one. No. 2 Anton awaits at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Lubbock.
Clay is hoping the playoff warm-up games and Mondayâs win springboards his team during the most crucial part of the season, but the coach was blunt: taking down Anton wonât be easy.
âWe have a massive match up Friday, No. 2 team in the state,â he said. âLast year, if they had been in our division, they mightâve won state. Theyâre way good. ... Itâs unfortunate we have to match up this early, but it is what it is. Weâre going to do it and see what happens.â
The Wildcats got a little scare when Jacob Rodriguez â one of the key senior standouts on this team â left the game in the second quarter after an injury. He did return to the game in the third, but finished with just two points. Clay isnât concerned, though. He said Rodriguez should be fine.
Zeke Clay is trying to work his way back on the floor from his injury. The junior all-state selection has missed part of the season, but Mondayâs game was his fifth back. Thomas Clay said Zeke is not as mobile as he wants to be, but is getting healthier.
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