TEXARKANA, Ark. — The future and present look bright for Trinity Christian's boys basketball program.
The Warriors' senior boys are the top seed in the Heartland Christian Athletic Association state tournament, coming up this week, and the TCS junior high boys team went 4-0 in its HCAA state tournament to win the championship last weekend.
During the regular season, the junior high team featured players from sixth-ninth grade. In the postseason, the rosters were limited to sixth-eighth grade players. That rule change didn't slow down the Warriors, led by second-year head coach Bryce Evans.
The Warriors junior high team were 8-5 leading into the state tournament, when TCS went 4-0 to claim the title.
"I was extremely happy with the way the team played," Evans said. "We started a sixth-grader in the state tournament because of the ninth graders not being able to play, and we got contributions from a lot of different players."
Sixth grader Eli Wall hit a couple of 3s in the state championship game, and Aiden Cobb is an eighth grader who saw his playing time increase dramatically in the state tournament. Cobb also drained a pair of 3-pointers in the finals.
In the championship, Gavin Owen had 12 points, 10 rebounds and five assists to lead the Warriors, and Halston Baca averaged 22 points per game in the tournament. Owen and Baca are both eighth graders.
"Halston dunked during the early round game against Westside," Evans said. "In the championship they played a zone against us, so he wasn't able to do what he usually does."
Other members of the state champion junior high team include Max Whitehead, Joshua Rushing, Aaron Wall and Gavin Klar.
Trinity Christian's senior girls were regional runner-up, and the Warriors won the HCAA South Region championship to secure the top seed in the senior boys state championship.
"We were down two and had to start fouling (to prolong the game) and ended up losing by seven," Evans said about the girls regional final. "The state tournament was supposed to start last Thursday, but because of weather it was postponed until this Thursday.
"Our senior boys are pretty tough and are playing well right now. Going into the state tournament, I'm expecting nothing short of a championship."
The first round of the HCAA state tournament for senior boys and senior girls will be at Columbia Christian in Magnolia, Ark. on Thursday.