The Ballinger Bearcats were the big dogs in their district this year and topped their successful season off with a bi-district championship with their win against Alpine on February 25th. The boys would then fall to the basketball superpower known as Canadian, on February 28th. Even against a team of that caliber, Ballinger proved their mettle and that they deserve to be in the conversation with the best teams. They only fell to Canadian by 8 points, 56-48.
The Bearcats started off the season with 2 straight losses, the first to Breckenridge by the score of 73-67 on November 19th and then to an Irion County team that only dropped 1 game all season. The Bearcats got within 5 points of the Hornets but fell, although the experience served them well. Steel sharpens steel as they say.
The boys would then defeat Lake View 53-46, but would drop their next game when Merkel defeated them 45-41. Starting the season 1-4 caught the Bearcats by surprise because they knew that they had the talent and skill to contend at the top of the pack.
After the loss to Merkel the boys would impress even the most ardent critics with their 11-game winning streak between December 5th and December 17th. It was a grueling schedule but the boys found their footing and started off the win streak with a 55-47 defeat of Westbrook. The next 10 wins were against Stamford, 51-41, Eula 30-20, Westbrook 68-28, Menard 74-31, Miles 69-29, Merkel 59-29, Stamford 58-45, Clyde 37-19, Cisco 59-48 and a win in the Coleman tournament. The boys would drop a heartbreaker to Jim Ned by the score of 37-35 and then thrash Compass Academy in Odessa by the score of 102-15. Fort Stockton was the next Bearcat victim, falling by double their point total, 80-40. Monahans would then fall to the boys, 50-45. Crane would interrupt the winning streak, defeating Ballinger by one point, 56-55.
The Bearcats got back to their winning ways against Grape Creek, 56-31, and Brady, 56-30. They’d fall again to Jim Ned, 42-36 and then Wall, 42-38. Reagan County had the unfortunate luck to come into Ballinger after the Bearcats’ loss to Wall and fall to a hungry Bearcats team, 72-19. San Angelo TLCA would fall, 54-40, Sonora was the next domino to go, 53-25, followed by Grape Creek 62-28 and Brady 43-30. Wall would once again come into Ballinger and defeat the boys, 52-45. The Bearcats then traveled to Big Lake and demolished the Reagan County team, 59-21. They’d win out for the season against TLCA 51-41 and Sonora, 78-30. They defeated the Alpine Bucks in their first round playoff game, which was the bi-district playoff, 56-49. The boys were taken down in the 2nd round of the playoffs by a powerful Canadian team, 56-48.
Bearcats’ coach Jamal Anene had the team humming along at times and then they’d leave him scratching his head at other times. But overall, it was a successful season for the Bearcats, led by Anene’s brother, 6’5” senior center Adrian Anene. Also in the mix was senior point guard James Washington, Garrett Dixon, Jonathan Delgado, Kenjrik Manley and senior power forward DJ Cavazos. Anene was able to use his size to push his way into the paint and get to the basket. He was the man that the other teams had to worry about 100% of the time. Anene’s ability to find the open man while in the middle of 2 or 3 defenders complimented his shooting skills. Washington and Manley were capable guards, regularly drawing out defenders as they brought the ball up the court. Cavazos has never been afraid to put the ball up and he kept his sharpshooting ways up this year, particularly from beyond the arc. With Anene’s ability to occupy 2 or 3 defenders, it left the perimeter players open time after time. The boys gave a good accounting of themselves this season and while Anene, Washington and Cavazos will graduate this year, the team has players ready to step up and fill the void. They will definitely lose some size with the 6’5” Anene graduating but they have 6’1” Ryan Elliott, 6’1” Dixon, 6’1 Hostetter, 6’2” Gressett and 6’ freshman Markus Castleberry who should be able to more than make up for that size loss.
The 2020-2021 season for the Bearcats will be exciting with several of the players once again contending for All-District honors.