Eagles Drop Out of Playoffs Despite Encouraging Season
Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.
Email This Story
By Jacob Richman
With a victory over the number one team in 6A, the second highest scoring 6A player and a third place finish in district, the varsity basketball team made an impressive resume going into the playoffs. However it wasn’t enough to move the team further than the first round.
The Eagles finished their 2016-2017 season on a 74-57 loss to 10-6A runner up, South Garland. An early playoff exit was not the expectation from the experienced team.
A tough schedule was lined up for the defending 10-6A champions with a spot in the McDonald’s Texas Invitational and new district alignments, placing the favorites for state champions, Skyline, in their pool.
Richardson went into the invitational with one game played, relieving a bit of pressure in a tournament full of Texas powerhouse teams.
The Eagles went 1-1 in the group round placing them in the silver bracket. With a first round victory over Katy Tompkins, they moved to the next round against Duncanville (9th in 6A).
They fell to the Panthers 73-66, sending them to the third place match only to lose to College Park (4th in 12-6A) 87-82.
After the invitational, the Eagles went into non district play with more confidence. They finished non district play with a record of 10-7 to prepare for a very strong district schedule.
“We had a lot of up and downs in the beginning of this season,” Junior Jalen Patterson said. “We were still trying to find our chemistry.”
Wins against rivals Pearce and Lake Highlands put the Eagles in a tie for first place with the undefeated 18-0 at the time Skyline Raiders.
The number one ranked 6A team led by Kansas signee Marcus Garrett was looking to bounce back from a narrow win against Berkner, however the Eagles were not going to give in easily.
Richardson led by two at the half, led by Senior Keaton Wallace and Junior Xavier Elam. It wasn’t until the second half that scoring exploded as Wallace scored 22 points and Patterson added an additional 10.
At the end of the second half, the score was tied sending the game to overtime. Wallace would go on to score 7 of the Eagles 8 overtime points edging Skyline to win 60-56.
“So far we’re the only team to beat them,” Coach Justin Reese said. “it’s a great memory for our kids and something they’ll never forget.”
With sole possession of 1st place, the Eagles looked to be a contender to finish in the top two spots. However, losses to Jesuit and Coppell set them back to third place, barely hanging on to a playoff spot.
With their last game against White (0-13 in district), the Eagles needed to keep their composure to secure their spot with Berkner and Coppell right on their tails.
The Eagles outscored White by 12 points in the second half to secure a 88-66 win and their third seed in the playoffs.
“We played really well as a team,” Wallace said. “We had great team chemistry.”
The third seed gave them their matchup with South Garland for the bi district championships and the ability to advance to the second round of the playoffs.
South Garland (17-9 overall, 10-2 district) had been near perfect in their district only failing to beat Lakeview Centennial in their two meets.
Led by Senior Zhaire Smith (4th in 6A scoring), South Garland found a convincing playoff victory to end the Eagles’ season.
The Eagles will lose 7 seniors next year. Among them are Keaton Wallace, Brandon Harrison, Cameron Green, James Flowers, Jordan Dunkle, Shankar Lal, and Kelvin White.
“We really love our kids and working with our players and have strong relationships with them,” Reese said. “It’s especially tough when we have to tell our seniors goodbye.”