The Nocona Indians hadn’t won a playoff game since 1993. This year, the drought came to a end, eventually landing the Indians in the regional tournament for the first time since 1986, where the Indians faced Canadian, the defending state champions in the regional semifinals. Nocona’s season ending with a hard-fought seven-point loss.
Nocona senior, Marcus Carter says, “We’re really proud of ourselves, I mean no one expected us to be here anyway, so for us to pull it off, it was amazing.”
Looking back on some of the highlights of the Indian’s season. Without a doubt, a buzzer-beating, overtime, game-winning three stands out.
“Jose’s three against Holliday. Because ultimately that’s what put us in the best position to win in the playoffs.”
“I think it was kind of an epiphany for the team as a whole that we’re good enough to not only make playoffs with a good seed, but also to do some damage once we got there,” adds head coach, Bret Botard.
The Indians won their first playoff game in 24 years, and then won another playoff game, setting up a meeting with the number 7 team in the state: Peaster.
“Nobody thought we could beat them. So we just figured we’d start fast, and we’d give everything we had, we had nothing to lose, and then we ended up winning and we knew we belonged. We knew we could beat anybody in the state,” adds senior Brenton Vineyard.
So they traveled to Midland for the regional tournament to face number eleven: Canadian, who’s experience on that type of stage gave them a huge advantage.
“We knew we deserved to be there, but I think we let the moment get bigger than us. Because we’d never been there before. And we just started out very slow, and that’s what got us in the first quarter. But if we would have started off faster, I think it would have been a totally different game,” says Vineyard.
“We definitely thought we could beat Canadian, or at least play with them, I mean, we did play with them. So, two time defending state champs, I mean, I think we did amazing,” adds Carter.
Bret Botard says the experience was important for the younger guys on the team, “It was exciting for a lot of our younger guys to experience this and see what it takes to get here and what we need to work on to advance further.”
“Next year, they’re only losing two of us, there’s no reason they can’t do it again, and go further!” says Carter.
“Playing as a team is probably the most important lesson I’ve learned this year. One person can’t do it all obviously,” says junior, Riley McCasland, who hopes to carry that lesson into his senior year continue to build on this foundation for future success. “This is just setting a new standard for every team to play for Nocona.”