• September 19, 2014

No. 17 Eagles rout Florence, complete sweep of District 22-2A schedule

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Posted: Wednesday, February 12, 2014 4:30 am

SALADO — After the last picture of the District 22-2A champs had been snapped, Salado guard Chris Deal — standing front and center — had the white posterboard he was holding swapped for a red one as each of the players’ parents was handed a pair of sunglasses. 

It was time for a second picture, and instead of a sign that said “District Champs!”, this time Deal held a sign that said “We Are Money” while the parents sported sunglasses with gold dollar signs in front of the lenses.

Just as it has been all district season, Salado was good money again Tuesday, as the No. 17 Eagles completed an undefeated district run with an 85-47 win against Florence at Salado gymnasium.

It was the first time in head coach Kenny Mann’s eight-year tenure that the Eagles were perfect in district play.

“I couldn’t even describe in words how I feel,” senior Kole Hearne said. “It feels great, actually.”

Salado (28-3, 14-0 22-2A) also stayed true to form Tuesday in not just winning but dominating in a 38-point victory.

The Eagles’ closest district win, outside of two games against district runner-up Jarrell, was by 18 points.

“It felt pretty good to dominate the district like that,” said senior Kyle Heiner, who scored 13 points Tuesday.

Salado scored the first 21 points of the game, going up 12-0 by the 4:48 mark in the first quarter.

By that point, the Eagles had five steals, thanks largely to their press, and had scored all four field goals on layups.

The lead later ballooned to 19-0 after a 3-pointer by Heiner, which he followed with a putback on the very next possession.

Florence (11-16, 5-9) didn’t score until Parker McNeil hit Christian Gomez with a nice pass on the baseline for a layup with 59 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Gomez led the Buffaloes with nine points.

“Long season,” Florence head coach Danny Wood said. “The kids are ready to get it over with. They didn’t play like they’re capable of.”

Salado was never threatened in the game despite slowing down near the end of the first half.

In fact, the Eagles’ most notable mistakes came late in the game on two intentional turnovers, part of a plan to allow Mann to take out each of his six seniors one by one to a standing ovation.

“It felt good,” Heiner said of the gesture. “These fans show up every week watching us play, so it feels good just to let them cheer for us like that one last time.”

For Mann, it was just as rewarding to watch his seniors finish their home career on top.

“I’ve been dealing with these guys for a long time, and they’re like my kids,” Mann said. “It makes me feel really good for them to be able to experience this whole year.”

Deal led Salado with 14 points, while Kase Spears and Heiner added 13. Senior Dane Hankamer scored 12 points, and Hearne had 11.

Now, Mann and the Eagles are looking to continue their special season for as long as possible.

And while they still don’t know their playoff opponent, they know what they bring to the table.

“They’re just a great group of guys,” Mann said. “Not only are they good basketball players, they’re good kids, they get along well. And I think that made the big difference, to be honest with you, just the camaraderie that they had playing together — and have, hopefully, they’ll carry several games further.”

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