Texoma Christian wins opener

Jason Della Rosa
Herald Democrat
Texoma Christian's Thomas Barnett had 41 points in a season-opening victory against the Red River Rattlers at TCS.

By the middle of the first quarter, the Red River Rattlers were searching for a solution.

They rotated through their bench trying to find someone who could keep Texoma Christian’s Thomas Barnett out of the paint and from picking up easy baskets.

It didn’t matter who guarded the 6-3 junior forward, who scored the first 10 points for the Eagles and finished with 41 as Texoma Christian opened its season with a 60-40 victory over Red River at TCS.

“You look at him and he’s not super tall but he’s got a wide body that makes him difficult to defend,” Texoma Christian head coach Nate Langenbahn said. “They didn’t have an answer for him. He’s got those old-fashioned fundamental moves.”

Kason Williams added 10 points and Bryce Ryeczyk chipped in four points for the Eagles, who play at Pottsboro on Tuesday, but Barnett was the main focus.

He split his work almost evenly with 19 points at half-time and always came through with a bucket when the Rattlers attempted anything that remotely resembled an attempt to rally.

The Eagles were playing their first game without a full practice. The football season ended on Friday in the bi-district round of the playoffs and the only instruction on game day was a walkthrough, getting uniforms and seeing how much they retained from last season.

“We made some silly mistakes. We had a lot of good things too,” Langenbahn said. “I knew it wasn’t going to be a perimeter game with them coming out of football. Hopefully after a few games we’ll have a true inside-outside game.”

Texoma Christian returned all but one from a roster which won 19 games, made the region final before losing to state semifinalist Midland Classical and then dropped down to 2A this season.

“We have some guys trying some new roles. It will be interesting,” Langenbahn said. “I don’t know what our district’s going to be like since we haven’t been in 2A in years.”

The Eagles raced out to a 12-3 lead with all of the offense coming from Barnett before Carson Russell’s layup. Williams had a steal and lay-in during the final 15 seconds to extend Texoma Christian’s advantage to 18-6 at the end of the first quarter.

Red River fought back to within single digits as the Eagles went nearly five minutes without making a shot. Barnett did have a pair of free throws and then Williams hit a three-pointer with four seconds remaining to push the margin to 28-16 at the break.

Barnett continued right where he left off at the start of the second half with a pair of baskets underneath and then converted a three-point play as Texoma Christian led 35-16.

It was a 44-26 advantage heading to the final eight minutes and the Eagles went up by 25 points with just over four minutes remaining on Barnett’s final big push — three more layups around a three-point play that put him on the verge of 40 before he went past it on his final bucket a minute later.

Non-district

Texoma Christian            60

Red River                        40