On Saturday night three ACU seniors lived out a dream as they led Abilene Christian High School to the Texas Association of Private and Parochial SchoolsÂ 2A state championship over Beren Academy 46-42. Coaches Michael Bacon, Colby Carr, and Nick Smith gave ACHS it’s first basketball state championship since 1981.
It was a championship game that almostÂ didn’t happen.
Robert M. Beren Academy, a Jewish Orthodox school located in Houston, was fully prepared to not participate in the TAPPS state tournament.
Their semi-final game against Dallas Covenant Academy was scheduled to be played Friday at 9 p.m. As is Orthodox Jewish custom, no work can be done on the Sabbath, from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. They had made the decision as a team to not compete and follow their beliefs.
Team parents filed an injuction against TAPPS, and wanting to avoid legal trouble, their game was rescheduled, a game that Beren won 58-46.
“I went online and read all the articles,” Bacon said. “I also got a chance to talk to their coach and he couldn’t have been any nicer. Their fans were classy. I’m glad they got to compete, that way no one could question who was the true champions.”
That win set up a match-up in the championship game against ACHS and head coach Bacon. Bacon and his assistant coaches, Smith and Carr, were in new territory on Saturday.
Not only were Bacon and his boys playing a team they had never played before, but the country was against them. After Beren’s feel good tournament story became national news, writers from CNN to ESPN descended on Nolan Catholic High School for the championship game.
This played perfectly into Bacon’s hands as he had preached a certain theme all year.
“I have told them all year that we should have an ‘us against the world’ mentality,” Bacon said. “It just added canon fodder to what I have been saying.”
Bacon’s team controlled the first half but went into halftime tied at 19. It was time for halftime adjustments.
“We mainly emphasized closing out harder after helping on their drive, because their whole team could shoot the three,” Carr said.
The second half was a different story as the ACHS Panthers built up a lead of 12 points in the fourth quarter. Beren made a game of it though and even had a shot to tie in the final minute, but ACHS hit two late free throws to seal the championship.
The coaches contributed the win to good defense.
“They shot 11-52 in that championship game,” Bacon said. “We won rebounds by 18. They depend a lot on the three ball, and I think defensively we put a lot of pressure on them.”
After the win, Bacon went home and set the trophy down on his office desk. That moment he said, was the culmination of all of his and his team’s hard work.
“Colby and I just went into my office, and we couldn’t stop looking at the trophy,” Bacon said. “We just stood there and thought, ‘We did it.'”