The Richland men’s basketball team entered the new year at 11-2. That all changed after an 86-74 loss in a rematch with Weatherford. Then on Jan. 13 in Mesquite, the Thunderducks faced Eastfield in their first Metro Athletic Conference game of the season. The T-Ducks led the first stanza 37-34, but the Harvesters rallied in the second half despite shooting 40 percent.
The game went into overtime when both the T-Ducks and Harvesters dropped in 11 points to send it into double overtime. Both teams ran out of fuel and Eastfield came out on top, 95-91. Nevertheless, an outstanding game for the T-Ducks.
On Jan. 17, the T-Ducks played their first conference game at home against the Brookhaven Bears. During the first half it was all Brookhaven as the Bears lit up the scoreboard with shot after shot, leading the first half, 49-34.
Brookhaven’s lead would quickly diminish as the T-Ducks crawled back late in the game. Richland’s Dallas Taylor rejected a layup from Brookhaven’s Tyler Quinlan then the referees called a technical foul on Taylor for absolutely nothing.
I looked at video several times and I didn’t see anything from Taylor. Either he trash talked, silently intimidated the Bears or the refs were just being selfish. It was a clean block by Taylor and he was excited but it’s not an excuse to call a “T” because all community college players are full of emotions. The T-Ducks along with Richland’s student body in the stands were furious at the officials for making fallacious calls that basically decided the entire game.
Brookhaven led 80-69 with 4:20 left in the game but just when you thought it was going to be a blowout, Richland responded. Though missed free throws and turnovers hurt the T-Ducks, three-point shots were being made all over the court. Darius Housley hit a three to bring the deficit down to four.
Several seconds later, Housley did it again hitting the trifecta from the corner and the T-Ducks were down 86-83 with 16.5 seconds remaining. After the Bears hit a free throw, Caleb Williams hits a three to make it 87-86 Bears with 7.4 seconds left. After Richland used their final timeout and Brookhaven’s Blake Hardamon hit a free throw to raise the lead to two, it was all up to the T-Ducks.
Williams ran down the court and shot the rock from near half court but hit the glass and missed it by inches. Richland lost the game by the score of 88-86. It was another outstanding performance by the T-Ducks as head coach Jon Havens was impressed with the way his guys played. However, he did mention before the game that the guys need to make more free throws in order to win. Conference play is still young and the T-Ducks will look to improve with games against Mountain View, Cedar Valley and North Lake to wrap up January.
The greatest play of 2018 happened on the 14th day of the year thanks to the NFL. The NFC Divisional round in Minneapolis where the New Orleans Saints were leading the Minnesota Vikings, 24-23. But the Vikes rallied back and native Texan Case Keenum aired a bomb to Stefon Diggs for the game-winning 61-yard touchdown once the clock read :00. The Vikings won, 29-24, and are now heading to Philadelphia to face the Eagles in the NFC Championship.
Despite missing the tackle to Diggs and getting chewed out by Saints fans, rookie Marcus Williams is keeping his head held high and moving forward. Williams thanked his family, friends and real fans on Twitter for love and support. He said that this one play won’t define the type of man or player that he is or will be.
Now Williams isn’t the only athlete in the world who blew a big game. Remember former Texas Ranger Nelson Cruz in the World Series? Missed the final out. Buffalo Bills kicker Scott Norwood in Super Bowl XXV? Missed the field goal. Even Dallas Maverick legend Derek Harper blew a game in the 1984 NBA playoffs against the Lakers. Missed an opportunity to score the winning basket by running out the clock. We’re all human. Stuff happens, let’s move on. Saints fans ought to be grateful that their team made it this far and played an exciting game.
As for the Jacksonville Jaguars and the New England Patriots, it’s a rematch of the 1996 AFC Championship game. The Pats won that encounter 20-6 to head to Super Bowl XXXI. Known as the “Sacksonville Jags” because of their top-notch defensive line in the NFL, the Jaguars faces always deadly Tom Brady’s offense. Philadelphia Eagles backup quarterback Nick Foles could possibly be the next Jeff Hostetler or even Tom Brady. One more win and the Vikings will become the first NFL team to host and play in the Super Bowl in the same season.