The Vandegrift basketball team advanced to 8-3 in district with a 63-58 victory over rival Cedar Park.
The win gives Vandegrift a sweep in the season series and it marks the last district game these teams will play now that the are Vipers moving to 6A.
Drayton Whiteside led the way for the Vipers with 24 points, and Clay Austin followed with 13. While the team struggled in the first half, second half free throws made the difference in the game, as Whiteside went 11 for 12.
“We knew we had to knock down some free throws,” Whiteside said. “In practice, Coach always gives us five minutes of designated free throw time between every drill to polish up our skills from the line.”
While the war was won on the court, there were certainly battles won off of it, as the Viper Pit was wild.
“The student section was great out there,” junior Alex Fernandes said. “They always come up with some creative, funny chants that usually throw the other players off. It just makes it a fun atmosphere to play in.”
The final moments of the game had all the fans on the edge of their seats. With four seconds left and the Vipers up three, Cedar Park rebounded a missed free throw and called a timeout they didn’t have. This led to a technical foul, helping the Vipers seal the game.
With Vandegrift’s Paxton Segina and Ryan Boles being in foul trouble most of the game, Justin Florence and Justin Moore were major contributors defensively, and they accounted for many steals and blocks.
This was a very important game for the Vipers, as it was their last district game in the foreseeable future. While they were 1-3 against Cedar Park in 2014 and 2015, they are 2-0 against them in their last season as district opponents.
“If we were ever going to sweep them, we knew it would be this year, especially with this being the last time that we face them as district opponents,” Vandegrift coach Cliff Ellis said. “We don’t know if we’re ever going to get to play them in district again, so to get them twice in district is a lot of fun.”
The win gives Vandegrift a desirable position in the standings, advancing to an outright second place. They can clinch a spot in the state playoffs on Tuesday with a win against Dripping Springs, who is one of the district’s bottom feeders. Another trip to the playoffs would be the school’s fourth appearance.
Carson Field is a student at Vandergrift High School participating in the Texas Top 100 Academy for Young Writers program. He also serves as the sports editor for the VHS newspaper.