Last season, with the pain of a state semifinal loss still fresh, Hitchcock Bulldogs point guard Damien McDaniel promised the get-back would be real.
A year later, the team is bringing a boys basketball state championship home for the first time ever.
Facing a scrappy, hard-working Childress Bobcats squad in the Class 3A state final, the Bulldogs completed their mission by finishing the game in spectacular fashion for a 68-45 triumph at the Alamodome.
“It’s the opposite feeling of when I told y’all I was coming back,” said McDaniel, who was voted the Class 3A state tournament’s most valuable player. “When I told y’all I was coming back, I was mad and sad, and now I’m happy and excited that I came back and won it. Words can’t even really explain it.”
Leading just 42-36 at the end of the third quarter, Hitchcock reeled off a game-changing 14-3 run from the start of the fourth period until the 3:33 mark of the quarter for a big 56-39 lead.
McDaniel led the run with eight points. Jayden Saxton-Rivera also had a pair of buckets in the paint, while Elijah Sherwood knocked in a lay-up.
With the state championship in their sights, the Bulldogs didn’t relent, leading by as much as 25 points as they closed out the contest.
“Just being from Hitchcock, playing at Hitchcock and now coaching and having one of my old high school coaches on my staff, it’s a surreal feeling,” Hitchcock head boys basketball coach Chris Jordan said. “We just wanted to bring this back home, and celebrate it with our families and friends.”
The Class 1A championship going into overtime and a bizarre clock malfunction right before tip-off in which the clock on top of one of the baskets emitted smoke delayed the start, and that lull seemed to benefit Childress early, as the Bobcats jumped out to a 10-4 lead led by six points from Aiden Allen.
But, Hitchcock closed the first quarter with eight unanswered points — six of which came from Lloyd Jones III, including a buzzer-beating fall-away jumper — to lead 12-10.
Late in the second quarter, a 7-0 Bulldogs run sparked by a Sherwood 3-pointer swelled their advantage from 21-19 to 28-19 before going into the halftime break with a 28-20 lead.
The Bobcats got their deficit down to 30-26 during a well played third quarter, but couldn’t mount a full-on comeback against Hitchcock.
McDaniel finished with 17 points — 13 of which came in the second half — and also tallied eight steals, six rebounds and five assists. Sherwood logged 17 points with two blocks, while Jones dominated the boards with 21 rebounds to go along with 14 points and a pair of blocked shots.
“That’s just one of my jobs on the team, and I just do what I do,” Jones said of his impressive rebounding performance.
Allen scored a game-high 20 points to lead the Bobcats, but the Bulldogs’ defense limited standout senior Lamont Nickleberry to just nine points — all of which came in the first half.
Joining MVP McDaniel on the Class 3A all-tournament team were Jones, Sherwood, Allen and Nickleberry.
Hitchcock graduates four seniors — Saxton-Rivera, Taron Elam, Issac Garza and Tyler Crear — from its 2022-23 state championship team, but returns its entire starting five of McDaniel, Jones, Sherwood, Bryce Dorsey and Kelshaun Johnson. Also coming back will be Tahara Goins Jr., Kamari McNeal and Trevor Gregory.
“My seniors, I love them so much, I’d do anything for them,” McDaniel said. “This is one of our goals they set at the beginning of the season — they wanted to win a state championship, so I put that on my list, and I wanted to scratch it off for them. So, even if they don’t touch a basketball again, they can say in high school they won a state championship.”
Hard to hide that Bulldog Pride......
WAY TO GO HITCHCOCK!
CONGRATULATIONS TO THE HITCHCOCK BULLDOGS!!!
Hey, way to represent Hitchcock, and Galveston County!!! Be proud of the work put in, and just as proud of the results it caused,.....A State Championship. 🏆 🏆 [thumbup][thumbup]
Awesome job Bulldogs. Way to make Hitchcock proud. Bulldog for life.
Way to go Bulldogs!!!
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