After the football program brought Guyer its first state championship, the basketball team followed suit with its first district title in school history as the Wildcats trounced Fort Worth Brewer 58-37 at home Tuesday on senior night.
In Guyer head coach Grant Long’s first year, the Wildcats bulldozed their way to a 13-1 District 5-4A record while finishing the regular season 23-6.
Long knows his team isn’t satisfied with the victory over Brewer and that the team’s desire for more is what propelled its success.
“I couldn’t be more proud of these boys,” Long said. “Their effort, the confidence they’re playing with and their mental focus can’t be matched right now. I’m proud that we are confident that we are going into the playoffs with this mindset; we are still hungry. We aren’t taking anything for granted. No matter who we are playing, be prepared to put forth that effort to get after them.”
Through an injury-plagued season that saw many players thrust in the unfamiliar roles, Long was most proud of the team’s reaction to difficult circumstances throughout the season.
“[It’s] their ability to take adversity and still come back,” Long said. “We’ve had a lot of injuries this year and they still battled and fought. The next guy stepped up no matter what happened. No matter who got injured, the next guy came in and played his butt off. We got this district title even with those things happening. Their ability to thrive in that situation was the biggest reason.”
The first matchup between the Bears and the Wildcats on Jan. 18 was a lower-scoring affair with Guyer nudging out a 37-34 road win. Justin Griffin led all scorers with 20 points in the game.
In Tuesday’s rematch, the Wildcats were led by Miles Crawford’s 12 points and Josh Jordan’s 10 points in a game that was still close heading into the fourth quarter.
Sean Choate provided early scoring and stability as he scored four of the Wildcats’ first five points on the way to nine for the game.
“Sean is Mr. Steady,” Long said. “He’s going to get you 10 points, and he’s going to play great defense every night. He’s so consistent. He’s playing with such confidence, and I love having him out there on the floor.”
With both teams feeling each other out on the way to a 5-5 tie to start the game, the Wildcats ended the first quarter on an 8-2 run with four points from Jordan, including a pass from Griffin in the paint for the layup to end the quarter up 13-7.
Long said he was happy to have Jordan, who has missed significant stretches of the season due to injury, back for the playoff run.
“He’s an amazing kid and leader,” Long said of Jordan. “He just radiates leadership and that’s what you need on your team. I’m proud to have him on the team and proud to have him at the right time.”
Crawford’s 3-pointer gave the Wildcats a 19-10 lead midway through the second quarter before Brewer clawed its way back to 22-16 with some aggressive moves towards the hoop that resulted in free-throw opportunities.
Crawford than took advantage of free throws late in the second quarter as Guyer extended its lead to 28-18 heading into halftime.
“Miles is another one of our leaders on the team,” Long said. “He’s a talker and he’s always focused on the game. He’s a guy that I talk to, to talk and lead in the other guys when I’m not around. Having those types of kids on your ballclub can’t be beat.”
Without taking a foul until the final seconds of the first quarter, the Wildcats were efficient on the defensive end in the first half, forcing Brewer into outside shots late in the shot clock while denying the Bears to set up their halfcourt offense.
“We’re a deep team,” Long said. “I thought we did play good defense there in the first quarter and made them work for shots. We need to work a little bit on blocking out and keeping them off the offensive boards, but I did think we played good defense to start the game.”
Despite the loss, the Bears (16-17, 7-7 district) will enter the playoffs as the fourth seed from the district with Trophy Club Byron Nelson and Denton taking the other two playoff spots.
To start the second half, the Bears forced the Wildcats into several turnovers and were able to crawl back to within 28-24.
“They are a playoff team,” Long said of Brewer. “It was the same type of game there and in the fourth quarter they made a great comeback last time. They just don’t give up. They don’t quit. They just keep coming at you. They crash the boards hard. They attack well. They shoot it pretty well, and they are going to represent our district well as the fourth seed.”
Guyer wasn’t down for long though as they answered the Bears with a 7-0 run, driven by a Choate 3-pointer and forceful moves by Jordan and Jerrod Heard, who had five points on the night.
Joshua Waters led the Brewer attack with 13 points and Taro Ford, who also scored 11, nailed a 3-pointer to finish the third quarter with Guyer up 40-30.
The Wildcats began the fourth quarter with another 7-0 run behind some stellar defense and efficient post play on offense.
“We knew the key tonight was getting inside to our [big men],” Long said. “They had to sink down and that would open up our guards on the outside. We are blessed to have some good size and that’s a good focus to get the ball into them.”
Guyer finished out the quarter on an 11-3 run with several seniors able to get some playing time with the game comfortably in hand.
“The greatest thing about this team is a starter that plays 30 minutes a game respects and is a great friend with a guy that doesn’t play as many minutes,” Long said of the playing time. “They don’t look down on each other. They are teammates, and this team has really grasped that concept of team and that’s why we are so successful.”
GUYER 58, FT. WORTH BREWER 37
Brewer — Joshua Waters 13, Taro Ford 11, Yanni Noulas 6, Dylan Vilaros 4, Cameron Brown 3.
Guyer — Miles Crawford 12, Josh Jordan 10, Sean Choate 9, Justin Griffin 8, Alex Partridge 6, D.J. Breedlove 5, Jerrod Heard 5, Sam Perry 3.