The Yantis Owls came face to face with the state’s number one Class A team and found out what Lipan Indian opponents have experienced all year long in a 72-41 loss. The Indians are the real deal, a very worthy number one. That was evidenced further by their region championship final, a 63-29 win over Graford. Graford had ousted Saltillo in the other semi-final game Friday night after the Yantis-Lipan contest at Mansfield High School Gym.
The highly-touted Lipan man-to-man full court defense lived up to its pre-game hype causing a bevy of early turnovers giving them easy buckets in a 26-8 first quarter run. Nolen started the scoring for both teams hitting a bucket just seconds into the game to give Yantis a 2-0 lead, their only lead of the game. The Indians countered with a pair of free throws from 6’7” Lipan post Derrick Cook, who had 16 points for the game, and a three-point shot from Santana Martinez, to go up 5-2 and they never looked back.
Lipan’s hot shooting junior power forward Ty Bryant hit for 10 of his game high 20 points in the first quarter. Yantis Jayden Modrall fought hard under the bucket for Yantis’ final six points of the first frame. The Indians opened up a 33-8 second quarter lead when Tucker Hathcoat responded with a long triple to make it 33-11. Potts hit a jump shot with 2:28 to go in the half, but Lipan still had a 39-13 cushion. Modrall would hit a bucket and Marshall Anderson made a pair of free throws at the end of the half as Lipan took a 44-17 lead at intermission.
Lipan would put in 18 third quarter points to 12 for the Owls. Hathcoat and Lucas Cerretani each hit three pointers in the third quarter with Bradley Potts adding a pair of free throws. J.C. Nolen and Modrall each had buckets, but the Owls were down 62-29 going into the final quarter.
The Owls fought gamely in the final quarter and outscored Lipan 12-10 in those final eight minutes. Cerretani put in a three-pointer while Potts scored five and sophomore Will Graham added four points as the Owls fell by the final 72-41 tally.
Potts led Yantis scoring with 11 points followed by Modrall’s eight, Cerretani and Hathcoat with six each, Anderson and Graham four a piece and Nolen two.
The Owls, coached by Mike McMinn, had a headline year, posting an 8-0 district championship season and finishing with a fine 22-10 record on the season. The Owls lose two seniors to graduation, Cerretani and Anderson, but return the nucleus of their scoring power with juniors Modrall, Potts, and Hathcoat along with sophomore Nolen returning for another run at a state tournament trip. The Owls will be on the top of everyone’s radar for next season as one of the top Class A teams in Texas.