BELTON — Still riding the high from the program’s first win in more than three years, the Shoemaker Grey Wolves are eager to start working on another streak, a winning streak.

But with 12 weeks left before anybody hits the field for real, the Grey Wolves are just looking for signs of improvement. Junior quarterback Ziere Banner saw plenty after finishing 2-1 in pool play at the Belton 7-on-7 state qualifying tournament, but missing out on advancing to bracket play based on point differentials.

“We’re just trying to get better, taking it step-by-step trying to get ready for the fall,” Banner said following a 32-30 victory over Pflugerville Hendrickson in the final game of Pool D at South Belton Middle School.

The Grey Wolves also pulled out a 41-33 win over Leander Vista Ridge but it wasn’t enough to advance after suffering a 60-33 loss to Georgetown in the pool’s opening game. Georgetown advanced in Pool D with 137 points, compared to 113 for Hendrickson and 106 for Shoemaker, after all three teams finished 2-1.

“The defense, we played pretty good today,” Banner said. “That first game we let it get away from us but we battled back and that’s what I like to see.”

Temple won the tournament with a 49-34 victory over Georgetown in the championship game, though both advance to the 7-on-7 state tournament July 19-21 in College Station.

The host Tigers, who qualified for state last weekend at Lake Travis, finished 2-1 in Pool B following a 33-24 loss to Leander Rouse in the third and final pool game. Copperas Cove, also in Pool B, and Killeen finished 1-2 in pool play.

The Roos salvaged a rough day with a 31-25 victory over Pool C winner Elgin after dropping their first two, including a disappointing 39-25 loss to Grand Prairie thanks to two second-half interceptions from junior quarterback Garrett Gaskamp.

Against Hendrickson, the Grey Wolves jumped ahead 14-12 in the first half thanks to its defense when J’Shaun Collins picked off a pass and returned it for a touchdown.

Collins continued his ball hawking in the second half, returning another interception for a score before Banner hit Nahome Anderson for a two-point conversion to go up 21-12.

Hendrickson wouldn’t go quietly, though, responding with a scoring drive to make it 21-18. But Shoemaker refused to lie down either as Banner found Dwayne Williams in the back of the end zone for a 5-yard score and a two-point conversion for a 28-18 lead.

“I’m trying to (build) that connection (with the receivers), trying to get better,” Banner said.

Shoemaker had two chances within the final few minutes to ratchet up the score some more but only managed two points when a Hendrickson interception of Banner in the end zone resulted in a safety after the Hawks were cited for unsportsmanlike taunting. The penalty put Shoemaker ahead for good 32-24.

Among the other games included a rousing showdown between two likely title contenders in the new District 8-5A when defending 12-5A champ Copperas Cove went down to the wire against Belton.Leading 20-6 in the first half of their opening game in Pool B, the Bulldawgs fell apart in the second half defensively as Belton rolled off 20 straight points to tie it at 26-26.

After Cove failed to complete a fourth-and-10 from inside the 15, the Tigers took advantage when sophomore quarterback Shane Stafford found senior receiver Derick Bates for a 25-yard touchdown pass as time expired for the 32-26 victory.

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