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White Oak grabs Class 2A state championship, 61-53

By Rick Kretzschmar rickk@news-journal.com
March 11, 2012 at midnight


AUSTIN - Caleb Carr lived a dream on Saturday. In the process he helped fulfill the dreams for members of the White Oak boys basketball team, not to mention fans of the Roughnecks which had dreams 55 years in the making.

Carr was called on to be a finisher in White Oak's quest to win the Class 2A state championship game, and he was clutch as the Roughnecks pulled away for a 61-53 victory over Brock before 9,633 spectators at the University of Texas' Erwin Center. Perhaps the most important of the plays was with 1:27 remaining, when he made a driving layup to give the Roughnecks a 56-50 lead.

Brock pulled within 56-53 when a three-point heave by Tre Ewell was good with 1:12 remaining, but Carr responded with two free throws with 41.4 seconds remaining, then two more with 28.5 seconds left after Dylan Carrigan missed a three-point attempt for Brock.

Carr led all players with 17 points (14 in the second half) while adding three steals, earning him Most Valuable Player honors for the Class 2A title game. Carr said in the pressure of the closing moments of a close championship game he was at peace.

"My mindset is being at peace, and it comes from God," Carr said. "It comes from hours of preparation, working on my shot and my ballhandling. When it comes down to it I want the ball. I have complete confidence.

"Winning the MVP award feels great. It's always been a dream, but it's a team deal. I want to sound as humble as possible. This is a team award."

Carr and the Roughnecks enter history as White Oak's third state-championship basketball team, joining the 1953 and 1957 squads which won Class A titles. It's also the first boys team championship for White Oak since the 1972 track team won a state title.

White Oak finishes the year with a 37-1 record, setting a single-season school record for most victories. Saturday's victory concludes a steak of 31 consecutive wins. The only blemish was a 63-56 loss on Dec. 2 to Clarksville, which captured its own crown with a 65-47 win over previously undefeated Mumford in the Class A Division I state-championship game.

Carr was accurate in calling his award a team honor, as team play was critical in several areas.

One area was keeping composure in a tightly-called game. Three White Oak players - Jerred Whisenhunt, Kris Anderson and Hayden Nichols - each picked up two fouls in the fourth quarter.

Whisenhunt and Anderson kept their cool and had solid games each, while not fouling out. Whisenhunt, who scored a game-high 18 points in White Oak's 67-45 state semifinal win over Idalou on Friday, finished with 11 points.

Anderson had a team-high four assists while adding two steals and applying pressure which rattled Brock. Brock had 20 turnovers to 13 for the Roughnecks.

"Keeping our cool just came down to experience," Whisenhunt said. "The first quarter doesn't mean anything."

White Oak also had superior bench play. No Brock reserves scored points.

Meanwhile White Oak sixth man Ian Story scored seven points. Story's key points came after a two-point game on Friday, when foul trouble limited his action.

"I got one foul (on Friday) watching a rebound," said Story, with a smile. "Today I just went in thinking I will go all out until they call something on me."

White Oak also had more offensive production from center Levi Yancy, who had a 11 points with a team-high seven rebounds and two blocks. Yancy scored three points against Idalou.

White Oak also had a trio of three-pointers from Skylar Sutton, including a trey with 5:23 left in the third quarter which gave White Oak a 38-27 lead. Sutton may have been even more important on defense, where his primary assignment was Ewell. Ewell finished with six points on 2-for-13 shooting, 1-for-10 from three-point range.

"We just went up into their faces and got after it on defense," Sutton said. "I'm definitely more proud of how I played on defense than what I did on offense."

White Oak overcame good production from Brock's frontcourt of Kanton Wood and Drake Osborn. Wood was a candidate for MVP honors, grinding out 16 points on 7-for-10 shooting from the field while adding a game-high 13 rebounds. Osborn scored 14 points on 7-for-9 shooting while adding six rebounds.

Yet while Brock's inside shooting was strong, three-point shooting was a struggle for the Eagles. Brock was 3-for-17 (17.6 percent) on three-point attempts. Brock (30-8) was denied its third championship in school history, winning previously in 2002 and 2003.

"You have to give White Oak credit," Brock head coach Jeff Bell said. "They're good on defense. Their transition game was good and we knew it. They have good guards, good inside players. They know their roles and they're well-coached. They're good."

The abundance of good play concluded with the euphoria of a state title, which may have been summed up best by Whisenhunt.

"I can't put into words how you feel," Whisenhunt said. "After they missed a couple threes and you see the seconds go down, down and down … It's so amazing."

While Carr, Whisenhunt, Story and Chadd Johnston go down as White Oak's Class of 2012 which leaves the school as champions, head coach Ron Boyett said the path was paid for by 20 years of teams.

Boyett, a 1984 White Oak graduate who has coached the Roughnecks since 1991, pointed out that 90 previous seniors under him carried the torch, but didn't win it all. Several past Roughnecks had a role in helping the 2012 team win it all. Barrett Abernathy (Class of 2003) spoke to the Roughnecks before Friday's game, Cody Terry (Class of 1999) addressed the team before Saturday's game and Shervin Malekzadeh (Class of 1992) came in from California to cheer on the Roughnecks on Saturday.

Perhaps what Boyett wanted to drive home more in the aftermath was what his team accomplished goes well beyond their basketball family.

"This is not my team. This is not Ron Boyett's team. This is White Oak's team," Boyett said. "There's probably not 10 people left in White Oak right now, and all these people here were involved in making this happen.

"I'm so proud we could do it for them."

<strong>SECOND HALF</strong>

White Oak had at least an eight-point lead the entire third quarter. Brock was able to cut the deficit to 47-40 with 7:15 remaining on a third-chance basket by Osborn, then a Kelley Clark basket off a Dylan Carrigan steal, but Carr countered with a three-pointer with 6:46 remaining.

Brock cut it to 54-50 with a 7-0 run, which was capped by a three-point play by Wood. A good chance to cut White Oak's lead to 54-52 didn't work as Clark couldn't convert a layup attempt with 1:48 remaining. Bell said that missed shot was a big one, but quickly added that Clark is the top person on his team he wanted to shoot layups.

Wood led Brock with second-half points, going 4-for-4 from the field.

FIRST HALF

Story scored all of his points in the first half, including four as part of an 11-2 White Oak run which gave the Roughnecks a 30-19 lead with 2:11 left in the second quarter and an eventual 30-22 halftime lead. Yancy also had seven points while Whisenhunt and Sutton had six each.

Osborn led all players with eight points, but the Eagles were held to 9-for-24 (37.5 percent) from the field and failed to make a three-pointer, going 0-for-7. Wood added seven points and four rebounds for Brock. Nichols picked up his third foul with 1:52 left in the second quarter.

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