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Saturday Sports Buffet: Once again adding trophies – ’98 team ended previous drought

By Richard Greene | Published Saturday, March 7, 2015

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These days, the Bridgeport Bulls are piling up wins on the basketball court and making history for their program.

While filling up the trophy case, the Bulls are also making a long drought of playoff success a distant memory.

Past Winners

PAST WINNERS – Justin Read glides to the basket for the Bridgeport Bulls during their march to the playoffs in 1998. Messenger Archive photo

Before its bi-district win over Venus, Bridgeport had not won a playoff game since their coach, Alan Green, was a sophomore in high school in 1998. It was that team that ended the school’s previous boys basketball playoff victory drought that had lasted from 1967.

PAST WINNERS – Corey Cowling makes a drive during the Bulls win over Glen Rose in 1998. The victory was the Bulls’ first and only postseason win since 1967 before this year’s playoff march. Messenger Archive photo

“Those guys were a lot of fun,” Green recently recalled. “They were a loose group of guys, always joking around.”

Two of the team’s leaders were the senior guard-forward tandem of Justin Read and Stephen Howard. The team also included seniors Jeremy Epperson, Bryan Frazier, Corey Cowling and Jeremy Driscoll, juniors Garrett Reeves and Josh Goolsby and sophomores Jonny Whitener and Green.

“We were just a bunch of friends that had played together for a long time,” Read recalled.

The Bulls made the playoffs in 1997 but were bounced in the first round by Glen Rose.

Even with much of the team back the following year, Bridgeport didn’t get off to the best of starts. But the Bulls turned the corner after winning their holiday tournament as part of a six-game winning streak heading into District 7-3A play.

Bridgeport started district on the right foot with a brilliant nine-point comeback in the fourth quarter to upset state-ranked Lake Worth 62-57. Read had 24 points and Howard 19 points and 16 boards in the win.

The Bulls won eight straight before Aledo ended their streak with a 75-57 setback.

Bridgeport managed to take second place in the first half of district play with a 73-72 win over Carter-Riverside to get to 3-2.

The Bulls swept the second half of district play to set up a district title game with Diamond Hill-Jarvis, who they split meetings with.

In two overtimes, Diamond Hill-Jarvis beat Bridgeport 72-69 in the tiebreaker.

The loss meant a bi-district matchup with Glen Rose for a second straight year.

From the opening whistle, the Bulls showed the outcome would be much different the second time around. Howard, who finished with 32 points, helped the Bulls shoot 62.5 percent from the floor.

Bridgeport jumped out to an 11-point halftime lead and held a 41-34 advantage going to the fourth quarter.

The Bulls ended up scoring the 66-51 victory.

“It was pretty special,” Read recalled. “Bridgeport had been a huge football town for a long time. Since I didn’t play football, it meant a lot. Basketball was finally a real big deal.”

The party didn’t last long. Bridgeport was knocked out of the playoffs in the next round by Clyde, 74-54.

Read said he’s lost track of some of his former teammates. The now-firefighter is glad to see the Bulls once again filling the display case with basketball trophies.

SIDEDISHES

  • I was half-joking recently about the weather turning ugly for the start of baseball season. Unfortunately, Mother Nature didn’t get my comedic stylings as she canceled or forced some creative reshuffling of all athletic events this past week
  • The Decatur Eagles finally were able to start the baseball season Friday with a pair of one-run victories at the Bowie Tournament
  • The weather hasn’t been kind to the softball teams of District 9-3A. With less than 10 games under their belt, the teams in the eight-team league will start battling for playoff seeds Tuesday
  • Next week is Spring Break in the area, except for athletes who are competing nearly all week
  • The Bridgeport Bulls headed west for the region tournament Friday, needing two wins to get to San Antonio and the program’s first state tournament. The next two wins will be the hardest of the season – especially the region final against either Abilene Wylie or Lubbock Estacado. The Bulls did get the better draw, playing Levelland and the early game
  • Visited the Youth Fair on Thursday and saw a lot of athletes in a totally different arena. Between practices and school, I don’t know how they also have time to raise an animal. They must not sleep or are a lot tougher than I am
  • Speaking of tough, kudos to all that braved the ice and cold last Sunday to run the Cowtown Half. Conditions were not too bad once you got going. The toughest step was getting out the front door. Thanks also to the Cowtown officials for holding the race and to also allow the marathoners and ultra-marathoners to run virtual races and receive their medals. I just have to work up the desire to run 31 miles again.

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