LAMPASAS — Tyler Shivers is content with the outcome. In fact, he is happy.
After winning 20 games in a row, Class 4A No. 18 Lampasas suffered its first loss since November on Friday evening, falling to rival Burnet 54-43 in front of a raucous crowd full of fans from the neighboring towns.
While a win would have been massive for the Badgers’ hopes of winning the program’s first district championship in recent history, there are benefits to the defeat, according to Shivers.
“From my perspective,” Lampasas’ senior guard said, “I think this is good for us. We are not going to win every single game, and it was good to play in front of a crowd like this, because it basically a playoff atmosphere.
“So, I feel this will be good for the team.”
Considering a playoff berth is already secure and the district title is still within grasp, Lampasas head coach Rob Shivers agreed.
“It can be good in the sense that it gets the players more focused in practice,” he said. “We can show them the small things like blocking out, and how if you don’t do those things, the result is a loss.
“If we squeak out a three-point win, they’ll forget all about the mistakes and just remember they won despite it.”
Although the Badgers are finding silver linings, the fact remains the Bulldogs forced them to.
After taking a 17-16 lead into the second quarter, Lampasas (21-3, 8-1 District 19-4A) committed five turnovers and missed six of its seven field-goal attempts en route to being outscored 12-2 in the period.
Making matters worse, Badgers standout post Daniel Hurst collected his third personal foul midway through the quarter, and the deficit proved too much to overcome.
“When you play Burnet,” Rob Shivers said, “it is just like playing a running team in football. If you get behind, they are just going to squeeze the game down because there is no shot clock in high school.
“They were being methodical and getting a good shot, and we were playing rushed and either turning it over or taking a bad shot.”
Lampasas rallied in the third quarter as Tyler Shivers scored six of his 10 points, including a 3-pointer to trim the deficit to six points before teammate Austin Martin’s basket in the paint made the score 38-34 with less than two minutes remaining in the period.
The Badgers would not get any closer, though.
Burnet (19-6, 9-1) responded by making a layup as time expired and opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer, sparking a 14-9 run to close the game as it avenged a 49-48 home loss to Lampasas on Jan. 10.
Hurst finished with a team-high 11 points and two blocks, and teammate Jason Murphy added seven points and nine rebounds, but the Bulldogs had three double-digit scorers led by senior Ryan Robertson’s game-high 17 points (4-8 3FG).
The upset drops the Badgers half a game behind the Bulldogs for first place in the district with a game against Liberty Hill looming Tuesday. The Panthers, who will be looking for revenge after losing on a buzzer-beater in overtime at Lampasas in the first matchup, sit one game behind the Badgers.
While Lampasas’ hope is that the end of its two-month winning streak will be beneficial, Hurst was quick to admit the defeat stings.
“It hurts,” he said, “especially in a district game to your rivals. That makes it hurt even more, but we’re not going to get down.
“Now, we know that we can’t coast. We have to get back to our gameplan and start focusing.”