Reversal of fortune greets 2012 version of Bulldogs

Thorndale returns six veterans from last year’s 2A playoff squad

THORNDALE—With just a couple of players back last season, Thorndale managed to pull itself together and earn a playoff spot in the rough-and-tumble world of Class 2A basketball.

The Bulldogs have a reversal of fortune looking into 2012, with six veterans to dive into Class A basketball, where Thorndale once ruled.

Despite cracking out the basketball sneakers barely a week ago because of a deep football run, the Bulldogs are ranked No. 18 in the pol ls and are the favor ites to capture District 26A, ahead of Holland and Granger.

Thorndale placed second in district to 2A power Jarrell and fell in the first round to Hempstead for a 21-9 mark in 2012.

The Bulldogs had missed the playoffs the year before for the first time since 2002.

The Bulldogs lost just three seniors, two of them starters and one of them leading scorer Dillon Irwin (15 ppg, 14 rpg).

“All of last years seniors were important players for us,” said Thorndale Coach Doug Franklin, who begins his fifth season (75- 44) at the helm, “but, we do bring a lot of players back (six) and several are seniors who have been in the program since seventh grade.

Franklin Franklin “For the most part they know what I expect from them because they have been running our stuff for six years now. I expect us to play hard, get after it defensively and try to run the floor and play a fast paced game.”

Riley Schaefer leads the pack of returnees as the junior point guard averaged 8.2 points per game last season and was second on the team in three-point shots behind Irwin.

Six-foot-3 postman Aaron Laurence put up 6.9 points and 3.5 rebounds in 2012 and will be joined in the paint by fellow 6-foot-3 junior Lorenzo Llana.

Other veterans include senior guards Sam Stockton and Keon Mays, who was second-team all-district.

Newcomers stepping in to lend a hand are sophomores Jordan Hafley and Dalton Robertson and seniors Eric Hinistroza, Gabriel Salinas and Shawn Bigan.

The 5-foot-8 Hafley has already shown some skills around the basket, leading the Bulldogs in scoring in three of their five contests, including a high of 18.

Looking into the future, Thorndale faces the prospect of playing teams out of District 25A, which includes No. 2 and state finalist Mumford and No. 12 Milano which duked it out in the regional finals a year ago.

“I know I’m going to get these kid’s best effort in practice and games and I think that is going to lead to a lot of success,” Franklin said. “We don’t talk much about winning and losing, we talk more about giving your best effort, doing things the right way and the end result is we will win a lot of games. “

Franklin says the late start is not necessarily a bad thing.

“I think it will be a fun year and we have a chance to take some of the success we had in football and carry it with us through the basketball season.”


Coach—Doug Franklin, 5th year
2012 record—21-9
District rercord—11-3 (2nd)
Playoffs—Lost to Hempstead in
bi-district, 75-57.
Returning starters—3
Key losses—Dillon Irwin, Tanner
Thomas, Sam Richter.
Key returnees—5-11 Jr. Riley
Schaefer (8.2 ppg), 5-7 Sr. Sam
Stockton, 5-7 Sr. Keon Mays, 6-3 Jr.
Lorenzo Llana, 6-3 Jr. Aaron Laurence (6.9 ppg).
Top newcomers—5-8, So. Jordan
Hafley, 6-1, So., Eric Hinistroza, 5-8,
Sr., Gabriel Salinas, 5-8, Sr., Shawn
Bigan, 6-1 So., Dalton Robertson,
6-6 Jr. Josh Jones.
Rank—No. 18
District outlook—First
Last playoff appearance—2012
Last district championship—2008

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