Despite playoff loss, Vandegrift basketball has bright future


Senior Drayton Whiteside dribbles down the court with Ryan Boles and Alex Fernandes.

Carson Field, Sports Editor

The varsity basketball team’s season came to an end on Tuesday, in a 57-50 loss to Alamo Heights. The loss came in the third round of the 5A State Playoffs, which is the furthest the team has gone in program history. While the Vipers were hoping to win state, their season should not be defined by the loss to Alamo Heights.

Vandegrift finished the season 23-12 and 11-3 in district play. With their strong district record, they were crowned co-district champions, as they tied Vista Ridge for first-place.

The program has shown drastic improvement over the past few years. In the first few seasons of the team’s history, they struggled to have a winning percentage over .500. However, the Vipers have combined for an impressive record of 45-25.

One major reason for the success of the team this year was the senior starters. In particular, Drayton Whiteside, Reeve Durrill and Paxton Segina were key contributors, as all three of them were starters.

While the starters were the ones absorbing most of the minutes, the senior backups were also very important to the team. They all were vocal leaders on the bench and made the most of their playing time.

“The seniors were very important this season,” senior Josh Rinn said. “We had a great year, but I wish we were still playing.”

While it seems like a challenge for them to replace the three graduating seniors, the Vipers will likely be able to fill the slots. The play from junior starters Alex Fernandes and Ryan Boles was promising this season, as they both proved to be great defensive players and solid shooters. Players that will compete for the slots will likely be Clay Austin, who had a few starts when Paxton was recovering from his concussion, Justin Florence, Justin Moore and Travis Devine, who all played terrific basketball off the bench.

“Working hard and getting stronger during the offseason is going to be very important,” Fernandes said. “The seniors will be missed, but we have a solid junior class right now that is going to lead this next year. Coach Ellis will have offensive and defensive schemes that will suit our different style of play because we will be a little smaller than years past.”

While the team likely will not get worse, the Vipers will make the transition into 6A. The 6A district they will be a part of includes Vista Ridge, Lake Travis, Westlake, Lehman, Hays, and Leander. Vista Ridge and Westlake were both excellent teams this season, both being near the top of 5A (Vista Ridge) and 6A (Westlake). Lake Travis and Leander were both solid this year, but not nearly as talented as Vista Ridge and Leander. On the other hand, Lehman and Hays were terrible this season combining for a district record of 5-25.

With this new district, the Vipers will have trouble getting past district juggernauts Westlake and Vista Ridge, but the Vipers should be able to make the playoffs with the lack of depth in the district for basketball.

This season should not be looked at as a disappointment, despite the loss. They won more than 20 wins for the second year in a row, were co-district champions and won two playoff games. This should be looked at more as an encouragement to the future.