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Texoma Christian wins TAPPS District 2-2A opener

Jason Della Rosa
Herald Democrat
Texoma Christian's Thomas Barnett finished with 19 points and 17 rebounds in a district-opening victory against Muenster Sacred Heart at TCS

For nearly two weeks the Eagles were grounded. They had opened the season by winning five of six games but then over the holiday break there was nothing for them to keep the momentum going.

“Eleven days is really long. You can’t simulate games and the endurance you need,” TCS head coach Nate Langenbahn said. “Kids can shoot in their driveway and do the best they can but it’s not the same.”

It was obvious the layoff hurt Texoma Christian when it returned. Their final warm-up for district play on Tuesday was a lopsided loss to Denton Calvary, a team they blew out right before Christmas.

“We were on all cylinders going into the break,” Langenbahn said. “It was a 50-point swing. We beat them by 25 and then were down 25 before losing by 17.”

With a couple more practices under their belt, the Eagles were in better form as they defeated Muenster Sacred Heart, 53-39, in the TAPPS 2-2A opener at TCS.

“We don’t mind playing a half-court game but I wanted to keep pushing on offense,” Langenbahn said. “Timing in the offense was a bit off. We had to run a little faster to get them back into shape.”

Thomas Barnett had 19 points and 17 rebounds, Kason Williams added 12 points, three assists and three steals, Carson Russell totaled 11 points and six steals and Bryce Ryeczyk chipped in six points and five rebounds for Texoma Christian (6-2, 1-0), which hosts Fort Worth Covenant Classical on Tuesday night.

“We’re starting to understand our roles as players,” Langenbahn said.

Chris Espinoza had 12 points and Mike Riney added 10 points and seven rebounds for Muenster Sacred Heart (2-9, 0-1), which has the district bye on Tuesday.

While Sacred Heart produced its best effort in the final quarter, nearly scoring as many points (16) as the first three frames combined and ending the game on a 9-3 burst, the Eagles had built a lead that peaked at 20 points and was never really threatened thanks to some sharp-shooting of their own.

Williams carried the offense with 10 of his points in the quarter, including a pair of threes, and Russell made his third of the night.

“He shoots well in practice,” Langenbahn said about Russell. “We’ve been waiting for him to get that touch going from the outside.”

The Eagles broke the game open with a 9-0 run in the middle of the third quarter. Sacred Heart made only one basket in the first five-and-a-half minutes of the stanza and Russell bookended the stretch with three-pointers, the last at the 3:31 mark for a 34-15 advantage.

The Tigers managed to connect twice from long range over the final minutes of the third but they couldn’t keep the Eagles from scoring in the paint and it was a 40-23 margin heading to the fourth.

TCS was able to widen the gap in the second quarter as the Eagles forced 11 turnovers and Sacred Heart managed just one basket in the final four minutes of the frame.

It was a fast start to the quarter as Hayden Turner’s putback and Landon Keizer’s three pushed the Texoma Christian lead to eight. But the next three minutes turned into a bit of a slog.

Barnett helped TCS break out of the funk as he fueled an 8-0 run almost by himself. He had three buckets and Ryeczyk hit a jumper that stretched the advantage to 23-10 with 1:30 left in the half.

Weslee Sprouse’s three-pointer from the corner in the final minute allowed Sacred Heart to be down 10 at the break.

The Eagles began the game with baskets from Barnett, Russell and Ryeczyk but then the Tigers answered with a 6-0 burst to tie the game on Ryan Swirczynski’s free throws with 3:53 left in the first quarter.

Sacred Heart never scored again in the frame but TCS only got a free throw and a layup from Barnett to hold a 9-6 advantage following the opening eight minutes.

TAPPS 2-2A

Texoma Christian                  53

Sacred Heart                         39