Wildcats Looking to Next Year After Disappointing End To Season

Wildcats Looking to Next Year After Disappointing End To Season

by Steve Gamel

People say all the time that nothing is ever a guarantee – especially in sports. Still, the Guyer boys basketball team appeared to be the exception to that rule.

The Wildcats were so dominant this season that very few teams could stay competitive with them, including opponents who were seen as early favorites to also be in the mix for a state title. Guyer, loaded with Division I talent and the state’s No. 1 team, beat them all with ease.

So naturally, everyone figured Guyer – which lost just once in the regular season – would steamroll its way through the Class 6A Region I tournament in March and move on to state.

No one saw coming what happened next.

Behind a patient clock-chewing offense that barely gave Guyer a chance to respond, Allen – a team Guyer had beaten twice in the regular season – shocked everyone with a 40-36 win in the region final. Not only did Guyer lose, but it was held to its lowest single-game point total of the season. The loss created shockwaves that are still being felt to this day.

“The kids will bounce back like they always do, but they won’t forget this game,” Guyer coach Grant Long said. “I know I won’t forget it as a coach, especially looking at the state tournament and knowing you should be there preparing for the next game. We will learn from this, though.”

“These guys showed a lot of grit and heart fighting back like they did. You can’t take away how hard they worked. And they’ll be eager to get back.”

Long has done a great job making sure his program bounces back every year. The Wildcats are now 93-11 since 2016 and boast one of the more incredible lineups in the state with Georgetown signee Grayson Carter, Oklahoma commit De’Vion Harmon, Jalen Wilson, Le’Tre Darthard, and JaKobe Coles leading the charge.

Despite all that talent and impressive overall record, Guyer had never made it past the second round of the playoffs coming into this season. They finally made history with 38 wins and nail-biting wins over perennial playoff favorites DeSoto and South Grand Prairie in the second and third rounds last month. Those games were decided by a combined five points.

According to Greg Riddle of the Dallas Morning News, Guyer (38-2) was trying to become the first boys basketball team to win a state championship with just one loss in the University Interscholastic League’s top classification since Marcus in 2011. That Marcus team finished 39-1 and was led by guard Marcus Smart, now playing for the NBA’s Boston Celtics.

Unfortunately, that didn’t happen. Guyer tried to get its up-tempo style going but never could get into a rhythm as Allen purposely held onto the ball for several minutes throughout the game before attempting a shot.

Guyer managed to rebound from an eight-point hole twice but never could come up with the game-turning play they had managed to get so often in past games.

“When you go through something like this, you end up talking to people from teams who went through a similar thing,” Long said. “The key with all of them is that they came back after that loss and took the next step to be better. We are hoping to copy that.”

Long added, “We want those expectations. These guys showed a lot of grit and heart fighting back like they did. You can’t take away how hard they worked. And they’ll be eager to get back.”

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