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Texas takes down Shepherd and Boise

By The Herd, 02/03/24, 5:00PM CST


Stampede advances to championship game

The Texas Stampede wheelchair rugby team showcased their dominance at the demolition derby in Birmingham, Alabama, going 2-0 in Friday's matches with victories over host Lakeshore and WWAR. The stampede's impressive start set the stage for Saturday's crucial matches against Shepherd and Boise, both featuring veteran and former USA players. The team, aiming to defend their national championship title in May, recognized the importance of setting a high standard for the rest of the year.

In their first Saturday match against Shepherd Smash, the Stampede, donned in new black singlets, displayed their determination to turn the lights out on the Smash early. Despite trailing early, the team, led by newcomer Josh Smith in his first tournament start, rallied with offensive prowess and strategic stops. Smith's impact as a .5 player brought a fresh perspective, proving effective against defensive strategies employed by opposing teams.

Texas introduced a zone defense for the first time in the tournament, showcasing adaptability. The Stampede quickly pushed the score to 28-14 by halftime, providing Coach Garcia with the opportunity to rest key player Verdin, who had played the majority of minutes on Friday. The absence of Verdin was hardly felt as the lineup of Kirkland, Pabon, Bowser, and Smith extended the lead to 42-25 going into the fourth quarter, securing a 52-31 victory.

In the battle of the unbeaten, Texas faced the Boise Bombers, led by Kory Putterbaugh and CJ Brown, balanced by Canadian athlete Ben Perkins. The Stampede's starting lineup of Verdin, Pabon, Kirkland, and Bowser wasted no time in establishing a five-point lead in the first quarter. Pabon and Verdin's one-two punch on offense and defense propelled the Stampede to a 12-point margin at halftime. Unrelenting pressure in the backcourt and in the key secured a convincing 62-33 victory, propelling the Stampede to the championship game on Sunday.

Coach Garcia expressed satisfaction, stating, "Another good day for us! We worked on a few things from yesterday, and the team responded well with good communication throughout the day." Looking ahead to the championship game against the Boise Bombers at 9 AM on Sunday, Garcia said, "We are excited about tomorrow. Pulling everything together for the last game would be great!" For live updates, follow all the action at