Top 20 local sports stories of 2016

Flash photo by RUSSELL HUFFMAN

January 2 – Tarleton uses late charge to give Reisman win No. 600

For head coach Lonn Reisman, there was nothing easy about the 27-plus years spent transforming Tarleton State from NAIA doormat to NCAA Division II power house.

It should come as no surprise, then, that there was nothing easy about his 600th win at Tarleton Saturday night at Wisdom Gym.

Photo courtesy Dr. CHET MARTIN

January 23 — Tarleton catches Rugby Fever

There are no scholarships to be awarded, no jumbotrons with video replays or sponsor logos and no cheerleaders flip-flopping around yelling, “Go State.”

There are fans – between 100 and 200 and anyway – and some seem passionate. Or perhaps that’s just because Saturday’s game was between Tarleton State and Midwestern State, and, as a former Texan basketball player put it on Twitter, even if those schools met in chess it would be a rivalry.

But those who cared to turn out despite temperatures in the high 40s and low 50s Saturday all seemed to at least share a certain level of curiosity about this sport few of them have ever seen before.

They are screaming – as Tarleton director for student engagement Lathes Towns did Saturday – things like “touchdown,” then when realizing that isn’t correct, instead shouting, “Rugby Down.”

They are learning actual terms, too, like scrum, ruck, try, in-goal and ground.

Yes, rugby has found its way to Tarleton State University.

Flash photo by JESSIE HORTON

February 15 – Lady Lions win first basketball playoff since 2007

It was a game of runs, and Dublin’s was bigger, lasted longer and was ultimately more decisive.

The Lady Lions just kept scoring and Brady just kept missing shots or throwing the ball away in a second quarter comprised predominantly by a 23-0 Dublin run en route to a 64-52 victory at Brownwood High School.

The halftime margin was 36-15, more than a 12-2 Brady surge in the third quarter could overcome, and enough for the Lady Lions to win in the playoffs for the first time since 2007. It was their first post season appearance since 2008.

February 23 – SWEETNESS: Second-half surge carries Huckabay to ‘Sweet 16’

Huckabay is in the ‘Sweet 16’ for the first time since 2006.

The Lady Indians outscored Newcastle 30-13 after halftime, overcoming a 28-22 deficit at intermission to win, 52-41, at Mineral Wells High School.

March 1 – Lingleville returning to regional after wild win over Graford

Tom VanKranenburg grabbed an offensive rebound off a missed free throw, found Tim Griffin, and the senior guard sliced through the middle of the Graford defense for an aggressive layup that put Lingleville ahead for good in a thrilling Region III-A boys quarterfinal at Weatherford High School Tuesday evening.

Lingleville held on, 70-65, to advance to the regional tournament Friday and Saturday at Mansfield High School.

March 15 – MARCH ON: Tarleton outlasts ASU to return to Elite Eight

Tarleton State is elite again.

For the fourth time in 12 years. In a league with more than 300 member teams.

Tarleton (24-8) scored six straight points to break a 62-62 tie, taking control in a 77-72 victory over Lone Star Conference rival Angelo State (25-6) in the final of the South Central Region Men’s Basketball Championship at D.L. Ligon Coliseum Tuesday evening.

Flash photo by RUSSELL HUFFMAN

March 18 – Stephenville boys complete first-ever unbeaten regular season

Stephenville (15-0-2) completed the first undefeated regular season in the history of its boys soccer program Friday evening, dominating around a bench clearing brawl to defeat Brownwood, 2-0, at Gordon Wood Stadium.

March 19 – Honeybee soccer makes program history

For the first time in school history, Stephenville girls take a district’s top seed into the state soccer playoffs.

After a win Friday left Stephenville tied as a district champion alongside Abilene Wylie, the Honeybees were awarded the No. 1 seed based on goal differential, outscoring district foes Brownwood and Mineral Wells by a larger margin than Wylie did.

April 5 – Veloz hat trick carries Jackets to first regional

Junior striker Aaron Veloz continues to rack up the goals in the state soccer playoffs with a hat trick to lead Stephenville past Pampa, 4-2, in a Region I-4A quarterfinal at Memorial Stadium Tuesday.

Stephenville (18-0-2) remains undefeated is on to the regional tournament for the first time in the history of its boys program. The Yellow Jackets face Life Oak Cliff at 6:30 p.m. Friday in a regional semifinal at Kennedale.

Flash photo by JESSIE HORTON

April 18 – Copeland drops interim from athletic director title

Mike Copeland is once again the director of athletics at Stephenville ISD.

Copeland received a unanimous vote of approval from SISD trustees during their regular monthly meeting Monday at Bond Auditorium. He has been interim athletic director since February was athletic director and head football coach at Stephenville from 2000-02.

April 23 – Bees ride  another Flores gem to first outright district title

Head coach Rus Mayes and company were feeling greedy Friday evening. They had no plans of sharing anything, much less their first-ever district championship.

The Honeybees scored three times in the sixth inning and Julia Flores tossed a complete-game shutout in a 3-0 win over Graham at McCleskey Field Friday evening to secure the outright title in 6-4A and set up a first-round playoff matchup with Wichita Falls Hirschi.

May 7 – MAKING HISTORY: Bees win school’s first area softball title

Stephenville (25-9) won the first area championship in the history of its softball program Friday, sweeping Alvarado (25-10), 6-2 and 3-1, in a doubleheader at Glen Rose High School.

May 7 – Dublin baseball records first playoff wins in program history

Forget restoring the roar, Dublin baseball never had a roar to restore.

Until Kellen Cervetto took over as head coach.

Now, at the end of just its first season under Cervetto, the Lions, who did not win a single game in 2015, have won a playoff series for the first time in the 20 year history of the program.

May 27 – Jimenez-Perea named PING WGCA Division II Player of the Year

Isabel Jimenez-Perea has been named the PING Women’s Golf Coaches Association Division II Player of the Year.

Jimenez-Perea is the first TexAnn golfer to receive the WGCA’s Player of the Year award. She’s also the first Lone Star Conference representative to win the award.

Courtesy Tarleton Athletic Communications

May 28 – Seven from Tarleton combine for 11 All-America honors

Tarleton State had seven athletes combine for 11 All-American honors Saturday, the final day of the NCAA Division II Outdoor Track and Field Championships at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.

September 19 — Trustees approve drug testing at SHS

Drug testing is coming for the 800-plus students at Stephenville High School who participate in extracurricular activities.

November 25 — Bearcats still roaring

Sophomore Kevin Yeager passed for three touchdowns, rushed for 95 yards and intercepted two passes as part of an impressive De Leon defensive performance to knock off Windthorst, 30-14, in a Region II-2A Division I semifinal Friday afternoon.

For the first time since 1990, De Leon is on to the state quarterfinals.

Flash photo by RUSSELL HUFFMAN

November 26 — FAITH comes from behind for sixth straight state title

Travis Loper rushed for three fourth quarter touchdowns and the Stephenville FAITH defense made three four-down stops in the final period as the Knights came from behind for a 70-49 victory over Bastrop Tribe Consolidated in the TAIAO Division II Six-Man Championship at The Allen Academy Saturday.

Flash photo by JESSIE HORTON

December 6 — Tarleton’s Hailey Roberts named National Player of the Year

Tarleton’s all-time kills leader. Three-time All-Conference. Five-time All-Region. Four-time All-American. Back-to-back D2CCA Regional Player of the Year.

And now, the Best Player in the Nation as voted on by the Division 2 Conference Commissioner’s Association.

Hailey Roberts‘ list of career accomplishments took another major step forward Tuesday morning when the junior outside hitter was named the 2016 Ron Lenz D2CCA National Player of the Year.

Courtesy Tarleton Athletic Communications

December 14 — Wood out as head football coach, AD at Hico

After nine seasons as athletic director and head football coach and 21 total years at Hico, Keith Wood confirms he is retiring.

Wood, who led Hico to the state semifinals in 2013 and quarterfinals in 2014 and to three district championships the last five years, was reportedly asked by HISD officials to step down earlier this week, but would not confirm as much himself.

“The bottom line is, yes, I’m stepping down and I’m going to retire,” said Wood in a phone interview Wednesday evening. “Sometimes God just has a bigger plan, I guess.”

Flash photo by RUSSELL HUFFMAN


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