Yantis opens basketball playoffs tomorrow

By BOBBY "BUTCH" BURNEY | News-Telegram Sports Editor

Feb. 21, 2007 - Players for the Yantis Owls don't remember the last time the team was in the basketball playoffs. It's because most of them weren't yet born.

It's been 18 years since the Owls were in the UIL state playoffs, but they qualified this year by placing third in District 18-A, Div. I. They will face Bloomburg, the District 17-A runner-up, at 8 p.m. Thursday in Gladewater.

In his first year as head coach, Larry Tucker guided the Owls to a 14-13 record (4-4 in district). They will be the underdogs when they face Bloomburg which has a 22-6 slate.

"Everybody's excited around here," Tucker said. "We had the girls volleyball team in the playoffs and the girls basketball team, so there are a lot of people here who are excited for us."

Both of the girls teams won their bi-district games. For the boys to do the same, they will have to be defensive-minded, Tucker said.

"We're going to have to play our best defensive game of the year," he explained. "They've got three really good offensive players, and we're going to have to counter that with some good defense."

Leading Bloomburg is leading scorer Brett Sheffield. He is helped out by assist-making point guard Jason Grenada.

"If we don't stop the Sheffield kid, it'll be a long night," Tucker said.

He is encouraged by what he has seen from his players this week.

"They've worked real hard this week, harder than they have all year," he said."I know they'll put it all out there on the floor. I know they'll play hard, that's something i don't have to worry about."

He will count on his top players, 6-7 center Jordan Thompson, sophomores Zach Leatherwood, Daniel Cerretani and Terry Thompson, and juniors Randy Smith, Tony Garcia, Jordan Davis and Cord Burnett.

"We've got several guys that can light it up when they're hitting," Tucker said. "I hope they're hitting tomorrow night. But, we've going to have to play good defense either way."

Notes: Radio station KMOO 99.9 will carry the game live. ... The last Owl team that advanced was in 1989 when coach Randy Smith led a No. 5-ranked team to the regional final where they fell to eventual state champion Avinger by one point.

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