It hasn’t been an easy road, but as the Dragons approach the end of district play, a third consecutive playoff run is well within reach.
After a hot start to the season – including nine straight wins without a loss – district 16-4A proved, once again, to be anything but a cakewalk.
“This district is extremely balanced,” said Nacogdoches head basketball coach Patrick Okruhlik. “You better show up to play every night.”
Here’s a look at the district standings with only two games remaining:
· 1. Whitehouse (7-1)
· 2. John Tyler (5-3)
· 3. Jacksonville (4-4)
· T-4. Corsicana (3-5)
· T-4. Nacogdoches (3-5)
· 6. Lindale (2-6)
The Dragons currently are knotted in fourth place with the Corsicana Tigers. The two teams square off on tonight as the Dragons make the two-and-a-half hour trip northwest.
The Tigers outscored the Dragons 58-38 the last time these two teams met at Dragon Coliseum. However, a win on Friday night will move the Dragons solely into fourth place, securing at least a share of the district’s final playoff spot heading into the regular season finale – even a shot at third place with some help around the district.
A loss would put the Dragons one-game behind the Tigers. Nacogdoches would need a win over district frontrunner Whitehouse, and a loss from Corsicana on Tuesday in Lindale to force a play-in situation.
This young group of players – only returning one starter from last year’s squad – are maturing quickly and are continuing to improve late in the season.
“They tend to play their best when their backs are up against the wall,” Okruhlik said. “They understand the situation, the implications and what they have to do.”
Tuesday night’s home season finale versus the Wildcats could potentially make or break the Dragons’ post-season hopes.
The games are scheduled to tip-off at 5 p.m. with the junior varsity boys, followed by the varsity around 6:30 p.m. Tuesday night is also senior night, where the Dragons will recognize its graduating class.
Okruhlik said the support from the community has been “tremendous.”
“A special thanks to the student section. If I wasn’t coaching, I would want to be sitting with those guys.”