Rarely does a small TAPPS school have an opportunity to go toe-to-toe on the basketball court with a UIL Class 5A school.
But, that's exactly what the Brook Hill Guard did last weekend.
The Guard, ranked No. 8 in the most recent Texas Association of Basketball Coaches Poll (Private School-Small), not only played one of the big boys, but in this case convincingly beat them, as the Guard shocked Odessa High, 62-50 in the Abilene Wylie-Catclaw Classic.
In games against Class 4-A Lubbock, Brook Hill fell, 62-54, and against Class 3A Abilene Wylie, the Guardsmen were stopped, 62-50.
The upside of those tournament losses, was that in both cases Brook Hill was in a position to win with three minutes left in each contests.
Head coach Wally Dawkins' team has another tall task in front of this weekend when they play in the Tatum Holiday Hoops Showcase.
Brook Hill will open pool play at 4:30 p.m. Thursday by battling New Boston. At 7:30 p.m. the Guard will face Class 4A Marshall (10-1).
Texarkana Pleasant Grove is also in Brook Hill's pool.
Brook Hill's success — the Guard opened the year by winning the championship of the New Diana Tournament — has not come as a surprise as the Guard made it all the way to the TAPPS, Class 3A regional final a year ago, where they were tripped up by Lubbock Christian, the eventual state champion.
Brook Hill returned all five starters off of that team, including 6'1” point guard Grant Hanks, who currently leads the Guard in scoring (24.5 points per game).
“He (Hanks) might be the best offensive player that I have ever coached at this stage of his career,” Dawkins, who recorded his 675th-career win as a high school coach last weekend, said. “He (Hanks) can do it all, and I think if we can correct a couple of things, the sky is the limit for him.”
Hanks' wingmen this season have been 6'3” Alex Hale, a shooting guard and 6'0” wing, Chase McDermott.
Hale and McDermott are among the scoring and rebound leaders for Brook Hill.
Depth is not a problem with the Guard this year, with Dawkins having guys like Jake Anderson (6'6”, post), Phillip Kitt (6'4”, wing) and Malik Alley (6'0”, wing) at his disposal.
Bryant Robinson (6'0”, post) and Josh Heingartner (6'1”, guard) have also proved to be valuable thus far this year.
Typical of most coaches, Dawkins said that despite his team's success this season, that he is not completely satisfied with his team's performance.
“We will have to do a lot better job at the free throw line (56.6% as a team), and play better defense as a team,” Dawkins said.