Make That Six

Varsity Boys Basketball wins sixth TAPPS Division 1 State Championship in a row.


photo by Steve Sickman

Junior Beck Atkins and the rest of the Varsity Boys Basketball team celebrate mid-court after winning their sixth TAPPS Division 1 State Championship in a row. The team defeated district rival Bishop Lynch, 45-42.

photo by Steve Sickman
Sophomore Justin Webster shoots critical free throws at the end of the game to secure the win for the Lions. Justin was the only starter returning from last season’s State Championship team.

The arena is filled with a nervous silence. At the free throw line, both teams stand with their heads turned toward the basket. Sophomore Justin Webster bounces the ball and lets out a deep breath. He focuses and aims for the big shot. Just as his final free throw sinks through the nylon net, so do the hearts of the defeated Bishop Lynch basketball team. With a last ditch effort, the Lynch team threw up a shot from half court as the buzzer blared, signaling the end of a hard-fought game.

The Lions roared with delight as they rushed the court. They had done it. Beating a team who had won 20 games in a row, the Lions won their sixth TAPPS Division I Boys Basketball State Championship in a row, 45-42.

After a long season of ups and downs, the Varsity Boys Basketball Team achieved the goal they have been striving for since the Varsity roster was finalized back in the fall. Almost 200 miles from their familiar home court, the Lions faced off against a team they had played, and lost to, twice before—Bishop Lynch.

photo by Steve Sickman
Junior Mateo Escheik goes up for the shot in the State Championship game. “It was such a relief to win,” said Mateo.

But the Lions were prepared. Junior Mateo Escheik said, “We watched film and could see that the guards needed tighter coverage. We also needed to emphasize defensive rebounding.”

Following a nail biting 3-point overtime win over Tomball Concordia in the semi-final the night before, the boys had to rally during warm-ups at Abilene Christian University’s Moody Coliseum and get in the mindset they needed to push through the fatigue of the tournament.

“Before we took the court, we just tried to stay calm. The state game is intense,” said Mateo. With five minutes until the first whistle, the Lions came out strong and ready to go; it wasn’t their first time on the stage for the state title.

The Lions took the court with only one starter, Justin Webster, from last year’s State Championship starting lineup. Joining him were Seniors Derrick Flowers and Dylan Claassen and Juniors Beck Atkins and Mateo Escheik.

The team also returned to the final with a new coach. Coach David Conrady said, “This team was under stress. They carried the burden of not being the team to break the Championship streak.”

They started out strong with two back door passes from Junior Beck Atkins to returning starter Sophomore Justin Webster for easy layups back-to-back to begin the first quarter. The opening quarter ended with a strong 15-7 Lion lead. But Bishop Lynch bounced back at the end of the second with a short run to narrow the deficit to two, leaving the Lions up, 21-19.

Coach Conrady said, “We were playing better defensively and being patient offensively. In the back of our minds, we knew Lynch hadn’t seen our best game in District, and that gave us confidence.”

The Varsity Boys stayed disciplined, not letting the close game get to their heads and pulled away to a 34-26 lead over Lynch by the end of the third period.

In the fourth, Bishop Lynch began putting on the pressure, and the Lions felt it. With less than three minutes left in the game, a timeout was called. Coach Conrady rallied his guys together and reminded them to stay calm. They were almost there, it was just like any other game and composure would decide the result.

photo by Steve Sickman
“They had to learn a new system, a new coach, and it was basically a new team. To come together the way they did shows great character,” said Coach David Conrady.

The Lions held a 41-33 lead. Big shots from Lynch’s center and talented point guard cancelled the comfortable lead with five straight points to make it 41-38, Lions. With only 20 seconds left, Lynch had the ball with the score at 41-40, but they missed and the Lions pulled down the rebound. Lynch began fouling to work the clock.

With the clock running down, Sophomore Justin Webster was put under the spotlight. Only 13.23 seconds remained on the clock as Webster stayed calm and made both free throws to put the Lions up, 43-40.

Lynch brought the ball down to the other end and made another big shot, 43-42. The Friars again fouled Justin. Under pressure he hit both again, giving the defending State Champions a safe lead and what would be the final score, 45-42.

“They had to learn a new system, a new coach, and it was basically a new team. To come together the way they did shows great character,” said Coach Conrady. “Justin did a great job leading the way. Mateo made big plays defensively and in rebounding. Derrick did a tremendous job guarding Lynch’s key player Zach Rouseau and had two big three-pointers in the second half,” he said.