Landon Burton

Landon Burton looks to the basket in a previous match. The Empire Bulldogs' senior was one of seven who played in their final game last Friday in district play.

In the district playoffs, the Empire Bulldogs tried to advance to the next round, however a loss to host Burns Flatt-Dill City brought the end of the season with hope for the next year.

Last Friday, the Bulldogs played in a win-or-go-home game in district playoffs and fell 60-49 with one of the younger players scoring the highest amount of points.

McRay Weber had 16 points while Daniel Alvarez had 12 points and Landon Burton had 15 points to bring their team record to 12-7 on the year.

Second year head coach Braden Hill, despite the loss to end the season, said he was proud of the year as a whole which had them finish against a tough team to start district play.

“I thought we had a really good season and we ended up going 12-7 and we had some stuff to build on. As for the game, we didn’t play to our potential and we played against a real tough Burns Flatt-Dill City team and things didn’t go our way,” Hill said. “It means a lot and I give a lot of credit to those group of these seniors we have and they have built it and they have got it going the past couple of years (SIC). They are leaving us on a good note and like I said, we were disappointed in going home early, but like I said, we got a really good season and that gives our younger guys something to build on.”

Hill also credited his whole team for playing with a lot of heart and feels the Bulldogs all played together.

“Really, top to bottom, I thought we all played well again — I always say that, but it is true,” Hill said. “From our bench players to the guys starting to role players to whatever it is, they have contributed in some type of way.”

The seven seniors that led the team included Burton, Alvarez, Jackson Smith, Jackson Carrio, Noel Sarmiento, Brayden Miller and Connor Francis.

Hill felt thankful for those seven athletes and made sure to show his young guys the heart the seniors had. Now he has hopes for great things starting next year.

“I pulled those guys aside and I said I wanted them to see the feeling they are going through and see what the seniors did for us and the work they put in the last couple of years and realize this is what it takes for them to be successful,” Hill said. “They turned this program around in a successful way and I think the younger guys saw that and saw what is expected and what needs to be done to be successful.”

The next season will begin this upcoming November and the Empire Bulldogs will look to improve on their 12 victories from this past season.

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