A few weeks ago, not too many people expected much out of the Steers, who seemed befuddled on the court from the start of District 4-3A, which they opened with four straight losses.
But Head Coach Cliff Thompson insisted it was just a phase his squad was going through while they found their identity.
Apparently, they found it.
Big Spring has won four of their last six games, including a thrilling win over Greenwood last week and Friday's season-ending, 74-54 rout of Sweewater.
The Mustangs drew first blood when they sank a three-point basket on the opening drive, but a Ty Sealy field goal and the first of four 3-point shots by Ty'Ral Menefield — who led the Steers with 27 points — ensured Sweetwater's lead was short-lived.
From that point on, it was all Big Spring, who kept the Mustangs in check with aggressive defense and sharp shooting. The game was still within the Mustangs' grasp, when just before the half, they cut the lead to four, but a buzzer beater by Menefield gave the Steers a 29-23 lead.
The third period is when BSHS ran away for good.
Menefield, Sealy, Tigger Walker, Tyler Graves and Tyler Bryan combined for 31-point quarter which proved insurmountable for SHS.
Thompson played his bench for much of the fourth quarter. Sweetwater went on an 8-0 run, but the rally wasn't enough, as Big Spring's subs played well enough to end the affair with a 20-point margin of victory — their largest this season.
SAN ANGELO — It was a season which “exceeded even my own expectations,” BSHS Girl's Head Coach Mike Warren said as their playoff hopes were dashed in a last second, 44-43 loss to Sweetwater on Friday.
It was the third time Warren's crew faced the Lady Mustangs, but unfortunately for the Lady Steers, the third time was a charm for Sweetwater, who relied on its seven seniors to lift them past a scrappy Big Spring squad in thrilling fashion.
The Lady Steers (17-16), edged SHS 19-15 at the halfway mark, and matched the Lady Stangs' 12 points in the third quarter, but a 17-12 fourth stanza decided Big Spring's fate.
Tied at 31 with just under seven minutes to play, Big Spring took the lead again. With two minutes remaining, the Lady Steers had a three-point cushion, but Sweetwater battled back, tying it back up at 38 with 1:09 left on the clock.
That's when things got crazy.
Sweetwater senior Suede Shirley nailed a three-point basket to regain the advantage. The Lady Steers missed two straight shots, then committed a costly foul which led to two free throws by SHS, who then enjoyed a five-point lead with only 13 seconds to go.
The never-say-die Lady Steers wouldn't go down without a fight.
Big Spring had possession and scored with six seconds to go, making it a one-score game.
Another foul led to another point for SHS. With just seconds before the buzzer, Julianna Rodriguez tossed up a three-point shot in desperation and it went off the backboard and in, making it a one-point game.
Warren managed to call a time-out with one-tenth of one second remaining, but couldn't get off another shot before time expired.
“We had a great game,” Warren said of the nailbiting loss. “The girls played a great game, but (Sweetwater) out-rebounded us and we didn't do well from the free throw line. We started the season with five seniors and ended up with only one — Logan Yarbar. Sweetwater had seven seniors and had some more experience than we did.”
Despite the disappointing end to an otherwise successful season, Warren is looking forward to the roster full of potential lined up for next year.
“We will miss (Yarbar),” Warren added. We will miss her senior leadership and hard work. She's been a big part of our team. But, we suited up 10 players and nine of them will be returning next year, so we are excited. I think the future is bright.”
Point guard Dyrshae Vanderbilt led BSHS with 19 points and Yarbar chipped in 14 in her final hoops game as a Lady Steer. Both Vanderbilt and Yarbar made three 3-point shots during the game. Alexis Cansino put up six points.
SMYER — The playoff bound Buffaloes lost their final regular season game by a score of 51-41 to district foe Smyer on Friday, but Forsan (18-9, 8-2) is peaking just in time for a postseason run.
“Our team has really come together,” FHS Head Coach Gary Huckabee said. “After our first district loss, they set their minds to it and worked hard as a unit. The next goal is the regional tournament.”
Kade Fannin led the Buffs with 19 points and 15 rebounds, while teammate Dillon Bagnall put up 14 points in the loss.
The defeat hasn't deterred Huckabee, who is ready to see how well his team can compete against the area's best.
“We didn't play at our top level.” Huckabee added. “They got after us, but they guys have a very positive work ethic.”
Forsan advances to the bi-district round of playoffs and will face an opponent to be announced soon.
BROWNFIELD — It's been a hard-luck season for the Bulldogs, who haven't managed to win a District 4-2A game.
Friday against the Cubs — the district leader — Coahoma was again outmatched and came away with a 86-45 loss.
Armani Guillama had 14 points, Shanen Warneke added 11 and Tanner Ruiz pitched in five, but Brownfield started strong and never let up for the duration of the game.
Coahoma will get one more chance to snatch a victory from a division foe Tuesday as they close out their season against Lamesa in front of a home crowd. Game time is slated for 6:30 p.m.
ACKERLY — It was a clash of the District 1A-DII titans Friday at Sands High School as the No. 7 Mustangs faced off against No. 8 Grady.
It was a back-and-forth game, with Grady (21-8, 12-1) leading by as many as 19 points early in the fourth quarter, but in the end, Sands (22-3, 12-1) pulled off a thrilling 72-71 win over the rival Wildcats, going on a 28-8 run in the final stanza to keep their state champsionship tournament hopes alive.
Caleb Thomasson — who led the Mustangs with 29 points — was efficient in the paint in the closing moments of action, leading to the huge come-from-behind victory. Preston Zant added 14 points and Jared Staggs was good fro 13.
Grady's Brandon Lucas had a game-high 30 points, while Beau Lucas put up 11, E.J. Rodriguez added 10 and Brett Glaze had eight.
Grady will close out their season against Borden County on Tuesday at 6:30 in a final tuneup before the playoffs. Sands will face Klondike on Tuesday before beginning their postseason run.
STERLING CITY — The Bearkats relentless offense suffocated the Eagles as No. 14 Garden City rolled over Sterling City, 62-20.
Leading the blowout were Corbin Davis, Sam Miller and Juan Bustos with 13 points apiece, while Autin Odom added 10.
The playoff bound Bearkats (20-7, 11-2) should have no trouble dispatching Blackwell in the final game of the season Tuesday.