In its inaugural season of varsity play, All Saints Episcopal coach Robert Brashear can recall his basketball team playing its first varsity playoff game in a carpeted gym.
Three years later, it’s fair to say that the Patriots have not only added a lot of pages to its program’s history book, but also come a long way as they qualified for their second consecutive TAPPS Class 2A state tournament.
“We’ve made it a step further every year and that just comes with growth, maturity and improvement of all of our guys individually, as well as collectively as a team,” said Brashear, whose team is 30-8. “I was really proud of the game the other night in the regional finals against Dallas First Baptist. We looked like a team that was playing in the regional final for the third year in a row and we handled some situations really well and finished the game on a strong note.”
In their first season back in 2014, the Patriots were eliminated in the bi-district round before advancing to the regional finals of the playoffs the next season. All Saints outdid its first two seasons and qualified for the state semifinals last season.
“We graduated our first set of seniors last year, which were all building blocks to our program. And then Brett Berger and Brice Nix represent the last guys from that very first team,” Brashear said. “They have been with us for four years and are our first four-year players that we’ve had. They remember back to that first year, we were just so excited. We had seven guys on the team and were excited to get to the playoffs.”
The Patriots defeated the Dallas First Baptist Saints 72-60 in their regional final contest to advance to the Class 2A state tournament in 2017.
Berger couldn’t think of a better way to end his senior campaign than to make All Saints history, again, by winning the state semifinal game and qualify for the championship contest.
“It’s my last year and I want to make it the best year I possibly can. Winning that (state championship) game is probably the best thing I can do as a senior,” said Berger, who is a four-year starter. “It would mean a lot to me, especially for the younger guys, having won that title would be nice and hopefully (spark) them into next year.”
“Last season has definitely served as a huge motivator for us. We’ve played with a chip on our shoulder all year,” Stuart said. “Practices have been intense and the goal has been to get back there and redeem ourselves from last year.”
Stuart, Berger and Austin Hickle, who have turned in double-digit scoring totals on different game nights, have helped lead the team to its second state tournament berth. The trio will need to also play good defense against a talented Cougars squad in the state semifinals.
Richardson Canyon Creek (11-20) touts a scoring threat in Chandler Apple. The 6-foot-2 guard averages 20 points a game.
“Coach (Brashear) talks about it all the time, having won, now, two regional finals and it (being) our second time at state. We know what to expect as far as the intensity of the game,” Stuart said of the state semifinal. “We know how the speed will be and what to expect overall.”