LINDALE, Texas (KETK) February fever has turned into March Madness.
That applies to 19 East Texas boys and girls basketball teams that remain alive in the UIL and TAPPS high school playoffs that are in the state quarterfinal round for the ladies, and the region semis for the boys.
Merely two-and-a-half months after its football team make a historic run to its first state title game, the No. 24 Lindale Eagle boys are giving their fans a little more to cheer for.
“One of the great moments of my life. I didn’t have to show ID at the bank, they said hey coach great win Saturday,” joked Eagles head coach Chris Grotemat as once again, the Lindale community is rallying behind their Eagles.
“We love the way, admire the way that our community rallied around the football team. I think some of our guys wanted that for themselves,” said Grotemat.
But just how monumental was Saturday.
Lindale trailed by 13 with four-and-a-half minutes to play against No. 17 ranked Paris in the Class 4A Region 2 quarterfinals.
But they refused to let their season come to an end.
The eagles exploded for 14 straight points as part of a 20-2 run to close out the game for an improbable 59-54 come from behind victory.
“What enabled us to do what we did is the work that our young men do in open gyms in June, July, and August, where in pick up games, and shooting competitions, and weight room stuff, they’ve won that game a hundred times in their mind,” said Grotemat.
That put Lindale in round four for the first time since 2012, just a win away from the Class 4A state quarterfinals.
“We’ve really encouraged our guys not to run from the pageantry of March Madness. You can go tunnel vision, and act like none of that is there, and ignore the noise. Or we can say it’s here, you’ve earned it. Let’s embrace it,” said Grotemat.
But he adds that his three football players, Jaymond Jackson, Colton Widemon, and Airik Williams have led the way in not allowing the playoff lights to get too bright.
“Just to be able to kind of put their arm around our younger guys that haven’t been through this. Those guys that have joined us from football have been instrumental in you know, helping our guys to navigate these uncharted waters,” said Grotemat.
But the catalyst has been senior guard Colton Taylor, who had 31 points in the win Saturday. According to Grotemat, he has been playing with a “boulder” on his shoulder.
“And that kind of commitment is infectious. He is the bar for work ethic.”
All while also battling a hip injury that he will have surgery on after the season.
“He’s doing all this at about 70-percent with significant pain every day,” Grotemat explained.
Lindale faces No. 4 Dallas Carter Tuesday at 7:00 p.m. in Forney.
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