VEGA, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — The Vega Longhorns heading to Regional Semifinals for the first time since 2012.
The Vega Longhorn boy’s basketball team is headed to Levelland to face off against the Sundown Roughnecks after they upset the top 20 ranked, Floydada Whirlwinds, in the regional quarterfinal.
A key player for the Longhorns in that Floydada upset was Senior, Carson Kirkland, who went off for 37 points, and four rebounds. Vega’s head coach, Sonny Calhoun, knows that he’s got a special player.
“With him, it’s really, he’s just determined to win right now, and that’s the biggest thing about him. For him, we’re just understanding what kind of matchups he’s gonna have, and what advantages he’s gonna have. And as teammates, we have to understand that he’s performing well in the playoffs, and he’s kind of our go-to guy right now so, we’ll keep getting after it, and keep trying to get him the ball a little bit, and play off of how people prepare for him,” said Calhoun.
Kirkland seems to understand his role and has been prepared to step into it since the playoffs began.
“We started out and I knew they would be keying in on Austin Calhoun, I kind of knew that since the start of the playoffs, he’s our best shooter and that they would be doing whatever they could to keep him from even getting the ball. So, I knew that I would have to step up and my teammates did a good job of finding me cutting into the hole, and lucky I got some shots to fall, and it turned out to be a pretty good night,” said Kirkland.
Austin Calhoun may be the team’s best shooter, but he’s also the head coaches son, who seems to see the rest of his teammates as his brothers. Austin’s plan for him and his brothers going into Levelland are pretty simple, ” Keep up-tempo, and keep the game fast-paced. We’re just going to play our part, play as a family.”
For this group of Longhorns, playing in the regional semifinals together is a dream come true, and they seem more than ready, even with the change in atmosphere.
Carson Kirkland said, “Playing in Levelland has been all of our dreams since we were little, watching them, as we’re growing up, the guys that were in high school at that time. They made it to the dome for many years, so we grew up watching at that place. I think it’s definitely gonna be a different atmosphere, but I mean playing at the F.U.B. this past Tuesday, I think that’s gonna kind of help us get ready for what we are ready for.”
With a trip to the regional finals on the line, coach Calhoun knows that his team has to be defensively sound and remember their fundamentals.
Calhoun said, “Mainly, we’re just practicing our defense, making sure we’re ready for their strengths and hopefully can limit some of their strengths, and key off a few things. We’ve been concentrating really hard on our defense. Making sure it’s fine-tuned and disciplined. It’s that time of the year, I think everybody is good. So, it’s going to be the little things that make the big difference.”
The Longhorns will need to be ready and concentrated on the little things when they face off against this year’s cinderella squad, the 13-12 sundown roughnecks.
The regional semifinal matchup will be held on Friday, March 6 at 6:30 p.m. in Levelland, Texas.