Orangefield faces tough test in state powerhouse Hitchcock

Published 4:19 pm Monday, February 26, 2024

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ORANGEFIELD — Orangefield High School faces a major challenge in the third round of the basketball playoffs — No. 1 defending state champion Hitchcock.

According to coach Bryan Whitmire, the Bulldogs do everything well and are well-coached.

“It’s going to be a challenge,” he said. “So far, our kids have been up to every challenge I have put in front of them. I know we are going to come out, play hard and give them our best shot.”

The Bobcats are leaving Orangefield at lunchtime Tuesday, eating as a team and heading to Lee College in Baytown for the 7 p.m. regional quarterfinal showdown.

There is time for an early shootaround on campus before the normal pregame routine.

“We’ll leave in plenty of time to physically and mentally be ready to play,” Whitmire said. “That stuff gets a little bit out of the norm once the playoffs roll around, but you really just have to focus and make adjustments.”

An offensive strength for the Bobcats all year has been the way they share the basketball. The unselfish approach means multiple players can and do score and they do it in different ways.

That was evident in the team’s second round playoff win, when four players finished in double figures.

“Moving the basketball, sharing the basketball and hopefully knocking down some shots would be what makes us successful, and that is what has made us successful all year,” Whitmire said.

This approach is seen most in senior scorer Zane Wrinkle, who is coming off a 24-point, 6-assist, 5-rebound and 4-steal night against Crockett, a 66-56 overtime win.

“He has been phenomenal and exactly what you want from your senior leader,” Whitmire said. “He has done it on the offensive and defensive end. I just can’t say enough about how hard he has played and how well he has played. We’ll need it again from him when we play Hitchcook. He has done a fantastic job in doing a little bit of everything. He rebounds for us, scores the ball for us, he defends. He is just a really good player.”

The first year Bobcats head coach says he has “really tough kids” throughout the roster who always keep battling.

They make plays when they need to make plays. They play hard and refuse to lose.

That is what Whitmire saw in the school’s Friday night overtime win.

The Bobcats were able to mentally reset after regulation.

“That gave us a second wind to feel refreshed,” he said. “We were able to make a few plays early in overtime that got us in control, and I thought they did a really good job of finishing the game.”