by Stacy Short, Reporter, The Talon News
Everyone wants a shot at the big game. Every player wants to play the game. Every player wants to make that shot. This year, the boys basketball team took that shot, making it to the state tournament, but that shot just wasn’t enough.
The Argyle Eagles (31-6) faced off against the number one ranked Silsbee Tigers (31-6) at the Alamodome in the Division 4A state semi-final game on Friday. Playing for a “bigger purpose” in honor of #35 Alex Betzhold, who would have been a senior this year, the boys basketball team held their own against a feisty swarm of Tigers, ultimately falling in 46-45 in the last 2 seconds of the game.
“All you ask is to get a shot, it just didn’t go in,” head coach Russell Perkins said.
The Eagles have had a rough road the whole season, being in the shadow of the state bound girls basketball team, and despite what many people thought, the boys were preparing for a state run, playing solid offense and defense throughout the season.
“There’s not very many people that thought we could do this. People did not even believe that we could make it this far,” Perkins said. “We’ve had fifteen players and three other coaches that talked about it a lot and said this is something we can do. We have been working hard preparing for this moment all season.”
As the game began, Silsbee scored six unanswered points before Argyle would come back and end the first quarter up 12-9 with point contributions from David Davis (5), Nathan Priddy (3), and Christian Splain (4). Jon Harding and Nathan White also led the defense.
On the bench at the end of the first quarter, Silsbee’s head coach Joe Sigler said to his players, “We got to D-up.” And when the second quarter started, the Tigers promptly ran down the court and scored 2, then another 2, to take the lead.
The play during the second quarter did not change drastically, with both teams scrapping for points and working at solid defense, but the third quarter proved to be more intense, with the Eagles working their way back up the board, Silsbee only putting up 4 points to Argyle’s 10 points.
With 30 seconds left, senior Nathan Priddy (3) scored a three pointer at the end to put the Eagles back on top 33-31.
“If you’re going to play the number one team in the state,” Perkins said, “Let’s work on them and see what we can do, just give it a shot.”
Senior captain David Davis was a key to slowing down the Tigers.
“Silsbee is obviously an incredible team and they forced us to speed up the game,” he said. “We just didn’t put in enough shots to win.”
Senior guard Trajan Harris hit 4 for 4 off the free throw line in the last two minutes of the game, changing up the tempo of the game, and putting the Tigers back on top 46-45.
“Four in a row. I had to go hunt him down and tell him,” Sigler said. “Those were big.”
When it came down to the final moments of the game, all the stars had to align to get the shots right, and no one knew what the result would be until the final second when the buzzer sounded.
“We got a chance from a kid who hits that all the time and has a great look for us and Nathan [Priddy] did a great job, and I knew they were going to come doubling and get the ball out of his hands, and he got it to the right guy to shoot it and we were wide open,” he said. “Sometimes it just doesn’t go in.”
Coach Perkins set a play in motion at the end of the game that had worked all year. The Silsbee players double-teamed Priddy, forcing a pass to junior Blaze McMellian.
“I was holding the best player #3 [Nathan Priddy], a pretty good player” senior Bruce Newton (1) said. “I saw [Priddy] pass the ball. I saw my whole senior year going down the drain, and when he missed it, I just collapsed and thanked God.”
Coach Sigler had played Argyle before, and credited the team’s success to their “pack-line” defense and his own players failure to put shots on the board tonight.
“That’s your season, basically, right there in flight,” Sigler said. “The style of playing that was here today, our shooting was terrible, we couldn’t make any shots.”
At the end of the game, the “shot” didn’t really matter, and it wasn’t the shot that won or lost the game. Instead, the real shot came down to the opportunity to play the big game. It had much more to do with the preparation, hard-work and determination that brought the whole team to the state tournament.
“The pressure is relentless, but I don’t think that broke us,” Perkins said. “Sometimes the shot just doesn’t go in and that’s what happened,” he said. “[But] I couldn’t be prouder of these guys and the whole team, and just the preparation we’ve been through all year long.”