SAN ANTONIO — Lipan is once again state champions. It took until the closing minute of Saturday’s 2A state championship game, but the Indians are on top for and get to take home the trophy to Lipan, TX.
Coach Brent Gaylor’s squad has given the Indians their third state title in men’s basketball in seven seasons.
The Indians held off a beast of a comeback from La Poyner, winning 50-46 on Saturday, Mar. 11 for their fourth state title.
A slugfest all the way through, Lipan jumped out to a huge lead, only to see La Poyner come roaring back. The Indians lead by as much as 17 points in the second quarter, but the Flyers stayed the course and never quit, only to see their miraculous comeback fall short.
The Indians were led in a 32-19 margin at the break thanks in large part to Garrett Smith’s 11 points at the half. The senior’s 21 pts/3 reb/2 stl were the dominating factor in Saturday’s 2A state title game.
Even with a big lead from Lipan, La Poyner kept plugging away and with 5:57 left to go in the third a Cooper Gracey layup pulled the Flyers back within 10. In fact, La Poyner trailed just by five, 38-33 heading into the final quarter of Saturday’s 2A state title game.
The Flyers tied the game up with 6:27 thanks to a jumper from Mann Scott, and a minute and a half later, the sophomore hit another one to give La Poyner the lead for the first time in the state championship game. The Flyers had stolen all momentum and looked to be on their way to a huge win over Lipan.
Instead, Korey Massey and Garrett Smith combined in a 10-6 edge for the Indians that pushed them over the Flyers en route to a 50-46 win over La Poyner in the 2A state title game.
“I was just so proud of their mental toughness,” Coach Taylor said in the post-game press conference following his team’s win. “It’s so easy in those situations in big games like this to get frustrated… shots that we normally hit weren’t falling our way, they started going on their run, but our team never quit. Everyone contributed… it was a total team effort.”
The biggest shot of the game came from Smith in a layup, who got sent to the line and cashed in on the and-1 opportunity, giving Lipan a two point edge 48-46 with just 0:44 seconds remaining.
“These guys are just incredible, they never quit,” Coach Gaylor said post-game. “[The Indians’ seven seniors] won so many games over the last seven years for Lipan basketball. They’re such a big part of our program, and just continue that tradition we’ve had. I’m just so happy for them.”
For the fourth time in school history, Lipan is state champions.
It’s also the third title for the Indians in seven seasons, including back-to-back state championships in 2017 & 2018.
Last year the Indians fell in the state championship, and with Lipan falling in the state semis the year before, it provided natural building blocks.
“I told them [the night before], let’s go ahead and take that final step,” Coach Gaylor said. “Our motto this year has been ‘Can’t leave without it. And I’m happy to say these guys aren’t leaving without it.”
They finish their season with a 28-1 record, reeling off 24 straight wins en route to their fourth state title.
Lipan also won the state championship in women’s basketball. The Indians are the first program to do that in 16 years, since Nazareth did the same in 2006-07.
On the other end, La Poyner saw their season end in the state tournament for the second straight season.
“It’s heartbreaking, obviously,” Coach Jim Reid said following the team’s 50-46 loss to Lipan. “To fight back from the deficit that we did, to be able to take the lead and not quite hold on to it… [we] just fell a little bit short.”
The Flyers finish as state runner-ups for the third time in school history, still looking to win their first championship since 1995.