HERALD Photo/Adam Coleman â€” Gradyâ€™s Johan Wiebe goes up for the score during the Wildcatsâ€™ 71-33 win over New Home in Mondayâ€™s 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 didnâ€™t accomplish what they wanted to during the regular season â€” win the District 8A Division II crown.
However, before Mondayâ€™s Class A Division II bi-district playoff game against New Home, Grady head coach Thomas Clay reminded his players they donâ€™t need that for a return trip to state.
â€śDistrict 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€ť Clay said. â€śNow, I told them before the game 75 percent of all the teams in Texas are done. Weâ€™re one of the few left playing and we want to continue to do that.â€ť
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. Itâ€™s a style of play Teague hopes takes this team far in the playoffs.
â€śThis is a good win for us because at the end of district. We werenâ€™t playing well,â€ť he said. â€śFor us to win this big, for us to do well offensively and defensively, itâ€™s pretty good for us.â€ť
The Wildcatsâ€™ reward for winning Mondayâ€™s game doesnâ€™t 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 Mondayâ€™s win springboards his team during the most crucial part of the season, but the coach was blunt: taking down Anton wonâ€™t be easy.
â€śWe have a massive match up Friday, No. 2 team in the state,â€ť he said. â€śLast year, if they had been in our division, they mightâ€™ve won state. Theyâ€™re way good. ... Itâ€™s unfortunate we have to match up this early, but it is what it is. Weâ€™re going to do it and see what happens.â€ť
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 isnâ€™t 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 Mondayâ€™s 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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