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SportzBuzz - May 2024

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St. Thomas’ Episcopal

STATE CHAMPIONS It was sheer jubilation for Saint Thomas’ Episcopal as the Saints celebrated the TAPPS 4A State Championship. The Saints 56-49 overtime victory over Arlington Grace Prep marked the school’s first state title in boys basketball since 2014.

With a thrilling 56-49 overtime victory over Arlington Grace Preparatory Academy, Saint Thomas’ Episcopal captured the TAPPS 4A Boys Basketball State Championship. The victory also marked the Saints first state title in boys basketball since 2014.

“It just means everything,” said Saints senior Nathan Law. “We came up a little short my freshman, sophomore, and junior seasons, and to finally get it done for our coach and our whole school is especially great. After all the hard work, practices, and weight room workouts we went through all year, it feels really special to win a state championship.” 

The state title was especially gratifying considering that STE overcame a rash of injuries throughout the season to secure the championship. “You had guys in that championship game step up that have may have looked at themselves as role players,” said STE head coach Chris Twine. “But I like to think that all our guys play a different role with all of those roles significant to winning a championship.”

The championship for STE was the second under the direction of coach Twine, with the Saints rallying from a double-digit second half deficit in the championship game victory. “Sometimes you have to pull back from these experiences in playing in a game like this,” said Twine. “It was the type of game in which you have to dig deep and find something special within yourself to come out on the winning side.”

“Our coach said something very awakening during halftime,” said STE senior Micah Gichana. “He said ‘win or lose I don’t want you guys to leave here with any regrets,’ and I think that really changed our mindset to the way we came out and played in the second half. Afterwards, it was a lot of tears and joyfulness especially since it was my last high school game ever.”

St. Francis Episcopal

FAN FAVORITES The St. Francis Episcopal boys basketball team made its way into the bleachers to join fellow students in celebrating the first state championship in school history. The Wolves defeated Lubbock Christian 61-53 to win the TAPPS 3A State Championship. (Photo: Doug Durkee)

For the first time in school history, St. Francis Episcopal has itself a state championship. The Wolves were crowned state champions with a 61-53 win over Lubbock Christian in the TAPPS 3A Boys Basketball State Championship game.

“It’s a really big deal for our entire school to win our first ever state championship,” said Wolves head basketball coach Harold Baber. “We’re a primary school continuing all the way through 12th grade. We like to say two campuses-one family. Everyone here has a lot of pride in St. Francis.”

“It’s just an honor to be the first team to win a state title for our school,” added St. Francis Episcopal junior Nigel Walls. “You always want to be the first at anything you do and it’s amazing to be part of school history and in a sense engraved in the record books.”

The win in the title game capped off a magnificent season for the Wolves while avenging last season’s defeat to Lubbock Christian in the state final. “We always had them in our mind,” said Wolves junior John LaBoy. “Since our first day of practice and in virtually every practice our coach reminded us about what happened last year, so that really pushed us to succeed. We just couldn’t have the same feeling in the locker room that we had the year before.”

En route to winning the state title, the Wolves closed out the season with a 15-game winning streak while also finishing ranked number one in the state among all private schools. “We played a super tough schedule in the pre-season by going to San Diego and South Carolina for some unbelievable tournaments and showcases,” said Baber. “We also played some really great schools in Houston and I think all that really prepared us for the run at a state championship.”

The state title victory was also especially significant for a tight-knit group of teammates who’ve been playing together for several years in AAU basketball and then when first stepping on campus at St. Francis Episcopal. “To be able to grow up with these guys has been special,” said LaBoy. “I’ve been with most of them since around seventh grade and know them both as players and people.”

“We’re comrades both on and off the court,” added Walls. “Just being together since our freshman year and even longer for some of the guys and going through the ups and downs of losing and winning makes us even closer.”

Editor’s note: Todd Freed is the host and executive producer of H-Town High School Sports, which airs Saturday at 10:30 p.m. on CW39 and Monday-Thursday on AT&T SportsNet SW. To submit high school sports news for possible inclusion in SportzBuzz, please email [email protected].

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