Robert Lee boys basketball advance to regional tournament for first time since 1995

The Robert Lee boys basketball team advanced to the Class 1A Region II tournament for the first time in 29 years after defeating district rival Garden City 45-31 at the Junell Center in San Angelo on Tuesday.

The last time the Steers reached the regional tournament was in 1995 when they made a trip to the state tournament but lost in the state semifinals 76-74 to Sudan — the eventual state champions. Robert Lee entered the postseason as the third seed with a 6-4 District 11-1A record after dropping its last two district games to Garden City and Irion County. Despite entering on a two-game skid, the Steers beat their first two playoff opponents by a combined 68 points to force the rematch against the Bearkats on Tuesday.

"It just started clicking," Robert Lee coach Steven Hayes said. "We had this little stretch over Christmas break, and man, it just picked up (during) our first-round playoff game."

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With the win, Robert Lee (26-9) advances to face No. 21 Eula (30-4) in the regional semifinals with the tipoff set for 6 p.m. Friday at Western Texas College Coliseum in Snyder. The Pirates, though, are fresh off a 52-46 upset over No. 18 Westbrook, but Hayes does not want to discount any opponent.

"We're not going to look past anybody," Hayes said. "... We're so excited to get there. That was our goal. We wanted to have a chance to get there and play them."

It was an even-matched first half between the two district rivals, but the Steers held an 18-15 lead going into the half. Robert Lee extended its lead in the third quarter, hitting contested perimeter shots early in the third and continued pace with a 16-point fourth quarter, while holding the Bearkats to 16 points in the second half.

"These guys keep fighting," Hayes said. "I told them when I got here last year that 'If you don't play defense, then you're just not going to play,' and these guys bought into (it) and I can't say enough about it. It really just makes me want to cry just thinking about it."

With the Steers and Lady Steers advancing to the regional tournament, Robert Lee is one of two schools in West Texas to have the boys and girls teams advance to a regional semifinal game this season — the other being Irion County.

"It puts us on the map," Hayes said. "The girls' teams have been there lately, but our boys, it's been a while."

Class 1A Region 2 Quarterfinal


Robert Lee 9 9 11 16 - 45

Garden City 9 6 7 9 - 31

Robert Lee (26-9): Max Garcia 7, Brayden Sherwood 6, Brenner Sherwood 11, Brody Pitcock 5, Canyon Moran 16.

Garden City (25-10): Texas Brinkley 5, Julio Talamantes 14, Levi Easterling 2, Skyler Garcia 6, Jarrett Fryar 4.

This article originally appeared on San Angelo Standard-Times: Steers break playoff drought with quarterfinal win over Garden City