SAN ANTONIO — The Graford Rabbits are now the two-time defending state champs of Texas in 1A after outlasting Jayton 49-44 in overtime.
“I’m very speechless right now,” Coach Jeff Bell of Graford said following his team’s second straight state title.
Graford jumped out to three point leads early in the state title game on Saturday, Mar. 11, leading 5-2 and 8-5, but Jayton kept plugging away.
The Jaybirds managed to tie it up heading into the second, 10-10.
In that next quarter though, the Rabbits once again got out to a decent lead, only to see Jayton come back and make it close yet again. Graford led by eight, 21-13, only to see the Jaybirds go on a 5-0 run to close out the first half, trailing just by three 21-18.
“We knew it was gonna be a hard game,” the Graford coach said post-game, “and I just said stay the course… and they did.”
Jayton picked up where they left off in the third quarter, slicing and dicing the Rabbit defense for a 10-0 run, leading 28-21. Their seven point lead would be the largest for the Jaybirds on the day as momentum shifted shortly thereafter.
“We got down by seven, and they just kept grinding it out,” Coach Bell said, “and that’s what they’ve done all year long. They didn’t panic. That’s just not in us. The way we practice sets us up for these types of games.”
Graford’s Colin Roberts single-handedly willed his team back into Saturday’s 1A state title game, scoring eight of his team’s next 10 points to tie the contest at 31-31.
The senior finished with 20 points, a team high for the Rabbits on 82% shooting from the field.
The championship could not be decided in four quarters though, heading to overtime in the first state championship game on the day.
While the Jaybirds kept it tight for a vast majority of Saturday’s 1A title bout, they lost steam when it mattered most. Graford outscored Jayton 8-3 in four extra minutes, more than enough to secure the state championship.
“I can’t say enough about this group,” Coach Bell said.
The two-time defending state champion coach said his team was ranked #1 all year long, and while the ranking remain undiscussed, he and the team felt as though they still did not get the respect they deserved.
With a second straight state championship though, this is a program now etched in stone in the history of Texas basketball.
“Now, we’re number one and they’ve earned that respect throughout the state of Texas,” Coach Bell said.
Colin Roberts was named the game’s MVP, finishing with an impressive stat line of 20 points/11 rebounds/5 blocks.
Saturday morning’s OT win makes the Rabbits back-to-back state champions.
They conclude their season with a 37-3 record, having become the two-time defending 1A state champions of Texas.