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3-Peat: Hounds capture third straight title

By Reece Waddell | Published Saturday, February 9, 2019
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Three Straight

THREE STRAIGHT – The Slidell Greyhounds clinched their third straight district championship Tuesday night in an 82-30 win over Saint Jo. Slidell has not lost a district game in over two years. Messenger photo by Joe Duty

Jan. 20, 2017.

That was the last time the Slidell Greyhounds suffered a loss in district play, when Forestburg beat them 49-39. Since then, the Greyhounds have won 28 consecutive games in league play and claimed three straight district titles.

Slidell clinched its latest championship with an 82-30 rout of Saint Jo Tuesday night.

“It’s honoring, but it keeps us moving forward and working toward something,” said junior Slayton Pruett. “Because we haven’t lost, it gives us something to strive for.”

In three seasons, Pruett has lost once in district play. But Slidell’s current coach, Casey Pierce, is undefeated in league play since taking the program over before the 2017-18 season.

The Greyhounds are a perfect 22-0 in District 22-A over the past two seasons.

“It’s a team goal at the beginning of every year, but it’s a stepping stone,” said Pierce of winning their third straight district title. “In 1A because of our work in district, we get a bye to the area round and are automatically one step closer. I don’t think our mentality at this point can be that winning a district title is one of our leading goals. If that’s where our focus is, I think we are going to undershoot what our potential is, to some degree.”

Slidell has won its 10 district games this season by an average margin of 38.6 points. The Greyhounds’ closest contest was a 49-32 victory over Henrietta Midway.

In Slidell’s first game of the season, the Greyhounds blew a 14-point fourth quarter lead to two-time defending state champion and Class A No. 1 Lipan, losing at the buzzer. Pierce said his team still has a sour taste in their mouth from the loss, but has used it as a teaching moment.

“We’re in control of the game and I think to a bunch of our guys, including myself – that one stings a little bit,” Pierce said. “We made some mistakes that wound up costing us the game.”

“Lipan the last two or three years has gone virtually unchallenged through district. If you’re trying to carbon copy that model, I think you have to own and dominate your district before the playoffs even get started. Now, that’s easier said than done, and I’m pleased that our kids [have bought in].”

Since the loss to Lipan, the Greyhounds have posted a 25-7 record, including a win over Class 2A No. 2 Muenster in overtime.

“This group finds a way to surprise even me at times,” Pierce said. “Even in the wins, we’ve been able to completely dominate some games I thought we should win, but not by that [big of a] margin. To their credit, this group has been able to step up to the occasion.”

But Slidell is not content with regular season success.

Although the Greyhounds have only lost once in district over the past three seasons, Slidell has failed to advance past the third round of the playoffs. The Greyounds’ two losses in the third round have each been by two points.

“We’re looking to go way farther than we have,” Pruett said. “Ending the season early is a letdown, but it’s also a motivator. We are very hungry. You have to be hungry and have the mindset that they can’t beat you.”

Slidell squared off with Gold-Burg Friday on senior night and ends the regular season at Prairie Valley on Tuesday. If the Greyhounds win both games, they will be 24-0 in 22-A since 2017.

“Eventually, we’re going to lose a district game. I know that’s the reality of it,” Pierce said. “But for the time being, we’ll take them one game at a time, and worry about winning that one, and we’ll let the records and the streaks take care of themselves.”

By winning district, Slidell gets a bye to the area round of the playoffs. The Greyhounds will play their first postseason game Feb. 21-23.

“It feels pretty good to carry on the legacy we’ve had and pay tribute to everyone that has come before me,” said senior Hunter Horner. “But this is not our end goal. We want to go all the way.”

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