Sunday, March 31, 2013

Playing for the Ring...

After their win on Friday, Merkel was set to play Brock for the state championship on Saturday. Brock was ranked #1 in the state and Merkel #2. Merkel was in their first trip to state and Brock was going for their fifth straight championship. And, I hadn't realized it until after Merkel had won the night before and the reporter I went to the game with and I were talking but the last team to win a state title that wasn't Brock was Jim Ned, back in 2008. So, would it only be fitting if Merkel won it and brought the Class 2A state title back to west Texas?
Well, at the start of the game it was close, both teams traded the lead, played really tight defense and was looking like the game was going to be a dogfight. This we along for the first three quarters with the back and forth. Then, in the fourth quarter Brock took things over and Merkel went cold shooting the ball almost at the exact same time. Merkel was still playing really tight defense which was keeping them hanging on by a thread, but their cold shooting kept moving things apart. So, for the fifth straight year Brock won the state title, it was a really good for the first three quarters though.








Friday, March 29, 2013

Merkel's 1st Trip to State...

After a thrilling and dominating performance in the regional tournament the week before, the Merkel Lady Badgers were punching their ticket to Austin for the state tournament for the first time in the school's history. The team had been ranked in the top 2 in the state in pretty much every poll of the year. And, they were coming into Austin with only one loss. So, it's not like it was undeserving, but the Erwin Center is a totally different place than a high school gym and the team they were playing, Poth, was just full of state experience. I think I've seen them in Austin pretty much every trip I've made down there. The only thing I'd never seen them do is win.
Merkel came out looking like they had an obvious case of nerves, but they were able to put that to sleep pretty quick and took a lead that they never gave up. Merkel's two big post players dominated the game and Poth just couldn't deal with the big six footers in the middle. The problem the post players posed gave the guards plenty of room to work and and either get open from the bigs being double-teamed or favorable 1-on-1 match ups. The combination of the two gave Merkel a win and a spot for a chance at a state title in the teams first trip to Austin.












Friday, March 15, 2013

Playoff Doubleheader...

I got sent to Big Spring to shoot what looked to be a couple of decent basketball games. Jim Ned was playing Tornillo in the first game, then Wylie was taking on Seminole in the nightcap. Of course things didn't quite turn out the way I was expecting them. I was thinking Jim Ned would take care of Tornillo rather easily, while Wylie would have a little bit of a hard time dealing with Seminole, just based on their past.
However, Jim Ned came out of the gate looking pretty good, like I was going to be right. Though, Tornillo to their credit came scratching and crawling back and making it a really good game until the fourth quarter. Either the photo gods decided to smile on me for a little bit or I've just been getting lucky over the last couple weeks being in the right position to get some decent shots and from the right angle to get some nice dunk shots. And that's just what happened at the start of the fourth quarter. Jim Ned's big man, Will Bryant, got a nice pass off a steal and threw down a great dunk, which pretty much turned the tide of the game for good. That seems to happen a lot in high school basketball, one big dunk can totally deflate a team and turn the tides.
In the second game, I was expecting Wylie to struggle withe Seminole's zone defense and 6'7 big man. However, the Bulldogs just came out looking great. Their coach had a great game plan and did a really nice job of rotating in a bunch of smaller, but tough big men to constantly be on Seminole's guy. Plus Wylie was doing a great job shooting and hitting 3's from outside Seminole's zone. This game never looked close and it really wasn't.





Monday, March 11, 2013

State Bound Badgers...

I was closely following Merkel's game the night before via a coworker's Twitter feed, wondering if I'd be coming to cover them in the regional championship game. The plans was if Merkel won their game I'd spend the night in Lubbock after the Wylie game and head to Midland to shoot the game the next morning. The game the night before was close and Merkel won it by the skin of their teeth. So, given how good Wall has been in the past I was expecting another close game. Plus, I was excited to be shooting the game in the Chaparral Center. It's a great place for a basketball game. A nice arena, with plenty of light and for the 2A regionals there is always a good crowd for the games as well.
When I got to the arena the reporter that was there told me Merkel had gotten to the arena about three hours early and had a practice before the game. Well, from the start of the game it was clear that the early practice was a good idea since Merkel jumped out to a quick lead. Their guards were handling the ball well and shooting well. Both of those combined with a really good defense it was clear that Merkel was serious about punching their ticket to Austin. Between the great playing and the great defense that Merkel plays every game it was clear who was going to win this game. It made for both some nice action shots as well as a nice celebration for the #2 ranked team in the state, who would be making their first trek to the state tournament.







Friday, March 8, 2013

Playoff Blowout...

After a first round bye, Wylie drew Pampa in the second round of the playoffs. A few years ago this may have been a completely different game. But this is now and Pampa isn't the team they were a few years ago. Wylie came out firing on all cylinders and looked great the whole game including a perfectly executed alley-oop play to open the second quarter. The Frenship High School gym has a sunken court so, for the second quarter I ran up to shoot from the stands. I was just in time and ended up in perfect position to get the dunk, which ended up being the main photo on our sports front.



Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Hunting for... Airplanes

The DRI annual celebrity quail hunt is a pretty cool event to shoot every year. However, over the last few year the extreme drought we've been having in west Texas has been really bad for the local quail population. So, the organizers have had to come up with some different ideas of things to hunt. Normally on Fridays they do sporting clays and on Saturday afternoon they do some type of trick shooting competitions. This year they were shooting at RC planes. I was kind of nervous going into it since most of the time when I get really excited about something that sounds really cool, it ends up turning out really lame. So I headed out there with guarded optimism about the shoot.
When I got there I spoke briefly with one of the organizers and asked him about the RC planes. He just laughed and said "This is going to be really humbling for some of these guys." I knew right there this might end up being really cool after all. So, the basic idea of this is there is an RC plane with a bunch of pyrotechnic devices on the bottom of it and it flies past a team of about six shooters firing at the little plane zooming by around 60-80mph. When one of the shotgun pellets hits the plane the pyrotechnic goes off and the team scores. It was a lot of fun and the first couple of round almost no one got hits. But then towards the end some of them were really getting into the groove and getting some nice shots in. The planes aren't your typical RC planes, they're basically an engine on plastic board (that ends up looking like Swiss cheese at the end of the shoot). It was a lot of fun to shoot, both for me and the hunters.