Hallettsville forward Cale Shimek, center right, puts his head in his hands along with his teammates as the final seconds tick off the clock in their 66-45 loss to Aransas Pass in the Region IV-2A final game at Seguin High School.
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SEGUIN - Hallettsville turned the ball over on its first three possessions.
The day didn't get any better for the Brahmas.
Aransas Pass got off to a fast start, and Hallettsville never recovered in a 66-45 Region IV-2A tournament final loss Saturday at the Seguin High School gym.
"They had their 'A' game today," said Hallettsville coach Scott Cottenoir. "We made some mistakes trying to outlet the ball, and it seemed like we couldn't recover from it."
As a result, the Panthers (33-7) will head to the state tournament for the fifth time in the last time 21 years. The Brahmas ended the season with a 22-7 record.
"We had a good game plan, but we got off to a bad start," said senior Dalton Herrington. "We battled all night, but we were never able to overcome it."
Aransas Pass closed out the first quarter with a 12-2 run spurred by Hallettsville turnovers to take a 17-5 lead, and the Brahmas never got any closer.
"That's when I knew we might be successful in our press, when they started giving us the ball," said Aransas Pass coach Glen Hays. "But I don't think they've seen that overall pressure this year. So that kind of rattled them a bit."
Even when Hallettsville broke the press, it had trouble converting on the offensive end. The Brahmas had only four field goals in the first half.
"I don't know what the deal was," Cottenoir said. "A lot of it has to do with you've got that 6-11 kid down underneath the basket. We attacked last year and put him in some foul trouble early and it made things easier for us. It's kind of baffling to me."
Hallettsville's 45 points - which included a layup that appeared to be after the final buzzer - was its third lowest total of the season.
"We didn't get any really good looks from the 3-point line, which we've been able to get," Cottenoir said. "We struggled from the free throw line. So, it was tough."
Herrington was the only Hallettsville player in double figures, and 8 of his 10 points came from the free throw line.
The teams were whistled for 54 fouls and combined to shoot 69 free throws. Aransas Pass was 25 of 39 from the line, and Hallettsville was 19 of 30.
"I know those guys did the best job they could," Cottenoir said of the officials. "It was a tough night because we didn't know what was going to be called and there just wasn't any consistency."
Herrington and Walker Dowell fouled out for the Brahmas and Matt McElroy had five fouls for the Panthers.
"It was officiated a little tighter than maybe we expected in a regional final game," Herrington said. "A lot of them let you play a little bit more. That's just how the game went."
Hallettsville lost to Aransas Pass in last year's regional semifinal, and this year's loss to the Panthers put a damper on an otherwise successful season.
"I've got to give it to my kids," Cottenoir said. "We started the season late because of football, which was a blessing. The kids worked hard; they worked through it. We started hitting our peak about the right time we were supposed to and it's just bad that it went down this way."
Aransas Pass 66, Hallettsvile 45
HALLETTSVILLE: Dalton Herrington 10, Reid Leopold 2, Jimario Grounds 7, Trent McGee 7, Walker Dowell 5, Landon McAfee 8, Tim Sheppard 2, Hunter Mican 4.
ARANSAS PASS: Troy Galvan 14, Greg Giageos 7, Paul Harris 8, Colin Hale 8, Kiki Hill 12, Victor Gonzalez 3, Matt McElroy 3, J.D. Gentry 11.
Halftime: Aransas Pass 37-21. 3-pointers: Galvan, Giageos, Gonzalez.
Records: Hallettsville 22-7; Aransas Pass 34-7.