Graford boys go back to state, aim for new heights

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by TED MADDEN

WFAA

Posted on March 7, 2012 at 11:37 PM

GRAFORD, Texas — They loaded up the big, yellow bus then waved good-bye to the town of Graford. First-year coach Ty Tabor has the Jackrabbits headed to Austin again.

"From the first day I walked in and went to the cafe downtown, I was getting asked questions about what we're going to run offensively," Tabor said. "Everyone's seen the movie 'Hoosiers,' and it's something kind of like that."

But not everyone has seen Hoosiers.

Junior center Leonard Benning hasn't, and why would he? Benning is German. But even if the foreign-exchange student doesn't know the movie, he's getting a good sense of what it's about.

"I didn't know that Graford was that small; my host mom already told me before I came here," Benning said. "But I really didn't know that basketball's such a big deal here. She told me that, but I didn't know how big it is."

This is the sixth time that Graford has gone to state, but the only team that won a game at the state tournament was the first one to get there, in 1965. Back then, they still played a third-place game.

Sam Minton was a sophomore point guard on the 1965 team that finished third in the state tournament, something he didn't even know existed until his team qualified for it.

"When we went to state, I didn't even know there was a state tournament," Minton said. "One of the seniors told me, 'Well, we get to go to state.' And I said, 'We're playing some more?' And he said, 'Yes!'"

Minton has a daughter who was a cheerleader when Graford went to state in 1988, and his grandson plays for this year's team.

"Also back then, they didn't have the three-point line, and my first varsity game, I hit a three," said grandson and sophomore forward Dylon Hart. "And the first thing he told me was, 'You've done something I haven't done.'"

With two wins in Austin, Hart can do something else his grandfather never did - win a state title.

E-mail: tmadden@wfaa.com
Twitter: @tedmadden

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