Looking ahead: Ropes has no choice but to be perfect

ROPESVILLE — Mike McCann started thinking about making the switch to girls basketball a few years into his job as a boys assistant at Levelland.

 

The perfect person was at the helm of the girls program to guide him through the transition: Women’s Basketball Hall of Famer Dean Weese.

“The thing that really sticks out in my mind other than his great work ethic over the years was, I asked him, ‘What do you attribute your success to?’ He said, ‘I think I can go into any school in the state of Texas and pick the 10 prettiest girls that make the 10 best grades and win with them just on pride alone,’” McCann said. “I just thought about that a couple of weeks ago in this run that we’ve had. That’s pretty close to what I have. The 10 prettiest girls with the 10 best grades. They all have pride. I think that’s been the key to our success.”

The Lady Eagles players turned down comment to focus on the upcoming week. They learned the move from the Borden County football team, which won the Class 1A state title back in December.

McCann and Borden County football coach Trey Richey are friends.

While McCann’s Ropes program doesn’t have the high-end history of Borden County, there’s been a clear surge the past couple of years.

McCann is hoping to get through the area round this weekend after receiving a first-round bye in the Class 1A state playoffs. These midweek practices ahead of facing either Chillicothe or Turkey Valley are about sharpening a machine which went 31-0 through the regular season.

Ropes came out for Monday’s practice to The Who’s “Eminence Front” and hopped into intense ball handling drills leading up to a grand finale of each player being required to hit 50 free throws in 34 minutes with a full-court run for each miss. Those tasks were accomplished only after the players mopped the entire court themselves in preparation for practice.

Another one of McCann’s friends is Buzz Williams, current Virginia Tech coach and former Texas Tech assistant. Williams once told McCann, “If you’re too big to do the little things, then you’ll be too little to get the big thing.”

“This is my ninth year,” McCann said. “This group has kind of taken the ground work that the first eight years laid and have kind of raised the bar. I don’t think a lot of people know that we’re, like, 28-2 in district and 38-4 in the last four years. There’s been a lot of good teams we’ve had. We’ve met some pretty good competition in the playoffs and have had a hard time advancing as far as we want. This group has taken the groundwork and raised the bar of expectations.”

The Lady Eagles have multiple wins against larger schools this season, including Class 3A competitor Jacksboro in the Caprock championship game, but their playoff tuneup contest Saturday against fellow 1A challenger May from Region II might have been the most pressing game of the year.

Ropes won 37-30. Its closest game since Jacksboro.

“They were definitely the most athletic and smartest team we’ve played,” McCann said. “Could not have asked for a better opponent.”

The wild world of 3-2A

Hale Center, Lockney and Farwell all have an opportunity to win shares of varying degrees of the District 3-2A championship when their games get underway at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Farwell (19-8 overall) will host Hale Center (20-8 overall) in a battle of two schools with 7-2 district marks. Lockney, also 7-2, visits a Bovina team that has already locked up the fourth and final playoff spot from the league.

Bobby Workman and the Owls need a win at Farwell and a Longhorns loss for an outright crown.

“It’s a very unique situation for all of us,” Workman said. “Our guys, for weeks, have known that you have to show up and play every night in this district. We’ve taken that approach and it’s happening to come down to the last ones. For us, against a really good opponent that’s really well coached, and it’s on the road. It’s a big one for us, but we’re going to try to treat it like another game.”

Lockney (18-8 overall) will be happiest with a victory of its own and a Hale Center win against Farwell. If Farwell and Lockney win their respective games, they’ll have to either flip a coin or play a district playoff game this weekend for the top playoff seed.

Farwell wins the crown with Hale Center and Lockney losses.

“We were fortunate and beat them by one at our place,” Workman said. “We’re expecting to see their best (Tuesday) night.”

 

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