The Stampede wrapped up the 25th annual Best of the West Invitational with a rematch between Tucson. Texas had seen Tucson the previous day and suffered a loss against the Paralympic laden team. With a day of regrouping and a good night’s rest, the team came out in the consolation game ready to get back on track.
The Stampede, starting Bond, Kirkland, Brown and Butler jumped out to an 11 – 7 lead in the first quarter highlighted by a attacking defense and an up-tempo offense. “We knew we were in good shape fitness wise”. Said coach Gumbert. “And the biggest area of concern for us - time together, had showed real progress throughout the weekend”. “We knew we had a chance to upset the nationally ranked #2 team if we played our game”.
The second saw Texas expand their lead to seven. Helping to spur the rally on was Mike Schacherbauer who got the 5th man award on the team for his defensive contributions that gave a new look to the squad. Critical turnovers however in the ending minutes evened it to a 5 point lead at halftime. “We had played 7-8 players each game but elected to go with a short bench for the rest of the game”, said Gumbert.
The move often referred to as Iron Man rugby would have the starters finish the game. The starters answered the bell and traded blows over the next 16 minutes with Tucson. Best in class 3.5 Chris Bond and veteran Bryan Kirkland combined for the majority of the second half points proving an effective one – two punch for the Texas ruggers. Some late game heroics from Tucson proved too little too late as the Stampede take third place 59-54.
The results of the weekend left Texas with a 3-2 record and a 3rd place finish. “Best of the West was a great tournament to start off the Stampede year” said Chris Bond. “We bonded as mates and grew stronger as a team”.
A special thank you goes to Stampede sponsor C&R Medical for their continued support. And a huge nod goes to Bob “Bobo” Murrary for everything he did to get us ready on and off the court.