For the first time since 2006, and the fourth time in program history, the Reagan County Owls are in the Regional Basketball Tournament.
The Owls punched their ticket to the Sweet 16 with a 79-51 win over Seagraves on Friday and a 71-58 win over Plains Tuesday night.
“I am so proud of our players, coaches and staff,” Coach Kyle Brown said. “Not just that, I am proud of Big Lake. I came to Big Lake in 2001 and have never seen crowds like this. Every step of the way, our fans have been right there in full force.”
Brown said the mix of community support and special group of players is helping the Owls hit their stride at the right time.
“This has been a good team all year,” Brown said. “We have worked our way up the rankings, and haven’t lost since the final game of the Caprock Tournament.”
Brown said the Owls had a team meeting following their 62-52 loss to Brentwood Christian in that tournament.
“I wasn’t upset with them, but had to let them know they weren’t playing up to their potential,” Brown said. “We sat there for about 30 minutes and had an open and honest conversation on what we needed to do.”
Brown said they wrote their strengths and weaknesses on a whiteboard and took a picture of it.
“We put that up in our locker room as a reminder of what it will take to become the team we want to be,” Brown said. “They have taken ownership of that, and we are seeing some of those pieces fall into place now.”
One of those pieces is Senior Dylan Odom.
“He is kid who has unlimited potential,” Brown said. “We are starting to see that now.”
Brown said he could see the light flip on with Odom’s game on Friday.
“He played outstanding in the second half against Seagraves,” Brown said. “He followed it up with another impressive performance against Plains.”
Brown said most of what Odom does is unheralded.
“He does that dirty work that doesn’t show up on the score sheet.” Brown said. “Those tough rebounds and his ability to guard on defense from the block on out to the three point line. We have a ton of talent on this team, but when Odom is engaged and playing like he is now, it takes it to a different level.”
Brown said Odom is one more thing for opposing teams to plan around on a team full of threats.
One of those threats, Kason Brown, is also playing the best ball of his life.
“He has really stepped up since about the halfway point in district,” Brown said. “I told the coaching staff at that point ‘if we get this Kason each and every night, we will be tough.’”
The sophomore is averaging 24 points per game during the playoffs.
“His ability to score, his size, and game down at the post make him a handful to defend,” Brown said. “He is able to carry us on offense when needed. If Kason is scoring, that means the whole team is scoring. He demands so much attention from the other team that it opens up shots for the guys around him.”
Kason posted 17 points against Seagraves and 22 against Plains.
Another threat is Jarrett Brown.
“Jarrett has grown up a lot this season and I think that shows in his last two games,” Brown said. “His first half against Seagraves was not good at all. He responded well after halftime and took over that game.”
Jarrett did not score at all during the first two frames against Seagraves.
He dominated for 22 points in the second half of that game alone.
“He is showing exactly what he can do,” Brown said. “He attacks the rim, is a really good shooter and, most of all, is a great competitor.”
Coach Brown said another piece of the Owls’ game comes in off the bench.
“Eduardo Encinas could be a starter for us, no question,” Brown said. “We have him coming in about halfway through the quarter when the other team is starting to get winded. The amount of energy he brings to the court is amazing. He has a tenacity that is special.”
Brown said Encinas’ defense has always been impressive, but he has rounded out his game on the other end of the court this season.
“Before, he would get a lot of steals, but then have trouble finishing on the other end,” Brown said. “Not now. He has cleaned up that part of his game. He is so solid on defense. 100 mph at all times, and can now finish tough at the basket.”
Encinas put up 13 points Tuesday night against Plains.
“I could go on and on about each of our guys,” Brown said. “The truth is, there isn’t just one or two you can point to for our success.”
Brown said he has heard from coach after coach this season about how they have schemed to stop one Owl or another.
“They may succeed at slowing someone down, but we are so deep with talent,” Brown said. “They all step up when called on. It makes us very difficult to play against.”
The Owls will lean on that depth as they take on Floydada in the opening round of the Regional Tournament on Friday.
“Floydada has a special group,” Brown said. “They have really good athletes. They averaged 87 points per game this season. They apply constant pressure on defense and their offense consists of running the floor off turnovers or rebounds.”
Brown said the Owls have not faced a team quite like Floydada this season.
“They have scored over 100 points nine times this year,” Brown said. “The team that resembled them the most that we have played would be Melissa with their press. They were tall and long, though. Floydada is a smaller team.”
Floydada is coached by Eddie Walker, who faced Reagan County last season as coach of Kermit and coached at McCamey prior to that.
“I respect Reagan County a lot,” Walker said. “They are a well rounded, well coached group. We will have to bring it on our end for sure.”
Floydada punched their ticket to the Regional Tournament with a last second shot to take the 68-65 win over Farwell.
“That was an exciting win, but our heart rates have settled this morning,” Walker said on Wednesday. “We take the next game up idea a bit further than most. We have a next point up mentality.”
Both teams have one thing in common, it has been over 15 years since either group has reached the Regional Tournament.
“Our guys have something special that I’m not sure many teams have,” Brown said. “They are all just so close on a personal level. They love being together and going on these trips.”
Brown said the Owls main goal is making the State Tournament in San Antonio.
“Of course they want to win it all, but more than that, they don’t want it to end,” Brown said. “They want that next trip together. That next team meal. I want that for them as well. That is why I am not happy with just winning. I want them to reach their full potential and get that next trip.”
The Owls need your support on Friday for the Regional Semifinal game against Floydada.
The game is set for a 1 p.m. tip off with the Owls set as the visiting team.
The Region 1 - Class 2A Tournament is being held at South Plains College’s Texan Dome in Levelland.
The Regional Final game will be played at 2 p.m. between the winners of the Reagan County/Floydada and New Home/New Deal games.
Tickets are purchased online only through the following link: