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2022 Houston County sports highlights

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122922 crockett sports review

(January through June)

As 2023 approaches, Houston County is closing the books on another banner sports year that included state appearances by local athletes in baseball, softball, track and golf.

Here's a look at some of the highlights through the first six months of 2022.


Hudson won the Gold Bracket championship in the Houston County Holiday Classic. Crockett finished second in the Silver Bracket and Grapeland was third in the Bronze Bracket. The last 2-1/2 games of the tournament were played in the Old Crockett High School gym due to a bubble that developed in a section of the hardwood floor in the Hopkins Activity Center.

Lovelady girls basketball coach Kollyn McWhinney recorded her 400th career win.

The Crockett Bulldogs topped the century mark in a 100-64 district win over Westwood.

The Grapeland Sandies drained 15 3-pointers on the way to beating Groveton 80-41.


Lovelady senior hoopster Slade Murray joined the 1,000-point career club.

Crockett girls basketball coach TaNesiah Johnson celebrated her 100th win milestone.

The Lady Bulldogs clinched fourth place in District 20-3A and were eliminated by Little River-Academy in bi-district.

The No. 2 ranked Lady Lions capped a 12-0 district championship run and won their first two playoff games to set up a showdown with

No. 3 Martins Mill in the regional quarterfinals,

Kennard Lady Tigers fell to a highly ranked Zavalla in the bi-district round of the state basketball playoffs.

Lovelady senior Mihyia Davis received honorable mention on the Texas Sports Writers Association Class 2A All-State Volleyball Team.

Lions Shaun Easterling, Brandon Fry and Conner Martinez received honorable mention on the TSWA Class 2A All-State Football Team.

Crockett Bulldogs knocked off Franklin 75-52 with a 32-9 fourth quarter frenzy to earn a share of the District 20-3A championship.


Entering the playoffs as undefeated district champions, the Grapeland Sandies defeated Cayuga in bi-district and Crawford in the area round.

The Bulldogs handily defeated Rogers 80-49 in bi-district but saw their hoops season end with a 59-54 loss to Lorena in the area round.

Jonney Smoldas of Crockett reeled in a 13.34-pound ShareLunker bass, the first Legacy Class fish for Houston County Lake since 1990.

Martins Mill ended the Lady Lions’ season with a 67-65 decision in the regional quarterfinals.

Three Lady Lions earned Superlatives on the 20-2A All-District Basketball Team. Mihyia Davis was District MVP, Shyanne Pipkin was

Defensive MVP and Lexi Price was Newcomer of the Year.

Crockett’s Delvin Walker was named District 20-3A MVP and Courtney Byrd received the Sixth Man Award. Coach Drae Murray was voted Coach of the Year.

Lady Bulldog Tocarra Johnson was voted District 20-3A Co-Offensive Player of the Year.

District 20-2A coaches tabbed Grapeland’s Omarian Wiley as District MVP and Cadarian Wiley as Co-Defensive Player of the Year. Slade Murray of Lovelady was Co-Offensive POY.

Two state-ranked Houston County softball teams won tournament championships with eye-popping performances. No. 1-ranked Lovelady outscored six opponents 45-0 and No. 6 Latexo dominated 52-4 in five games.

Grapeland's boys basketball season ended with a 72-60 loss to LaPoynor in the regional quarterfinals in Tyler.

Lovelady softballers put on a homerun clinic with four dingers against Groveton. In the next game, Mimi Sandoval hit a grand-slam homer against Alto.

Crockett girls soccer finished fourth in district and were eliminated the first round by Henderson.

CHS senior Omar Garcia signed with Jacksonville College for scholarships in cross-country, track and soccer.

TABC All-Region basketball honors were bestowed on six county athletes. Crockett’s Delvin Walker was named to the Class 3A boys team while Lovelady's Slade Murray and Grapeland’s Omarian Wiley were class 2A honorees.

Lovelady girls recognized as All-Region were Lexi Price, Aaliyah Jones and Mihyia Davis. Price and Davis also were named All-State.


A grand-slam homer by Slade Murray propelled Lovelady past Normangee, 7-6.

Crockett’s boys track team finished second in the district meet and qualified athletes for area in 12 events.

Lovelady’s girls track team ran away with the district championship while the Lions captured second place.

Latexo and Lovelady softball teams continued to steamroll their district opponents.

Four Lovelady girls basketball players received additional post-season awards from the Texas Girls Coaches Association. Lexi Price and Mihyia Davis were named to the TGCA All-State Team while Jada Johnson and Macie LaRue were Academic All-Staters.

Crockett Merchants Youth Baseball held opening ceremonies and presented the Paul May Legacy Sponsor Award to Davy Crockett Drug.

Contributor Awards were presented to City of Crockett Police Department, Crockett Fire Department and Lifeguard EMS.

Lovelady track teams duplicated their district showings at the area meet with the Lady Lions taking first and the Lions finishing second. A combined total of 23 athletes qualified for regional.

Three Crockett soccer players were awarded All-District Superlative honors. Angel Castillo was District Utility Player and Antonio Cruz was District Co-Goalie. Lady Bulldog Atriana Guerrero was voted Offensive Player of the Year.

Lovelady and Latexo softball teams geared up for the playoffs as undefeated district champions.

Houston County sent two golf teams and an individual to the UIL state Tournament in Austin. Grapeland’s boys golf team and Latexo’s girls team qualified along Tiger golfer Cordell Knox.

Crockett tracksters qualified for regional in five events led by second place showings of Joseph Tuggle in pole vault and La’Kyriah Hamilton in the 200-meter dash.

Lovelady Youth Baseball held the first Opening Day on its home field. Mike Broxson threw the ceremonial first pitch to Lane Wilson.

Hundreds of cyclists raced through downtown Crockett during the Davy Crockett Classic criterium.


Five girls and three boys represented Lovelady at the state track meet in Austin and Mihyia Davis brought home a bronze in the 100-meter dash.

CHS pole vaulter Joseph Tuggle placed third in the regional meet and advanced to the class 3A state meet.

Latexo and Lovelady softball teams were both dominant in their playoff openers. Lovelady swept Shelbyville while Latexo knocked off Snook.

Latexo shut out Mason in the area round before falling to Thorndale in the regional quarterfinals.
The Lady Lions posted shut-outs in their next two playoff series against Colmesneil in the area round and Beckville in the regional quarterfinals.

Latexo golfer Cordell Know place second in medallist play at the UIL class 2A Boys State Championship in Austin.

The No. 5 ranked Kennard Tigers defeated Oakwood 11-0, 15-1 in the first round of the class 1A state baseball playoffs and swept Chireno 11-3 and 10-3 in the area round.

Kennard's softball team earned three All-District Superlatives. Kaylin Parrish was Defensive Player of the Year, Halli Hunt was Newcomer of the Year and Serenity Smith was Pitcher of the Year.

The Lady Lions continued their string of shutouts against Como-Pickton, 10-0 and 10-0 in the regional semifinal.
In the class 1A baseball regional semifinal series, Kennard outlasted Chester in a three-game decision.


The Lady Lions made school history by becoming the first softball team to reach the Final Four. Lovelady defeated district rival Groveton to clinch the regional championship.

The Lady Lions brought home the class 2A State Runner-up trophy in their Austin debut. The knocked off defending state champion Stamford in the state semifinal but fell short against top-ranked Crawford 3-0 in the championship game.

The LHS trio of second baseman Bailee Albinus, outfielder Mihyia Davis and shortstop Scout Lovell received Class 2A State All-Tournament honors.

Davis's performance throughout the season earned her the title of Softball Athlete of the Year for classes 1A-4A by the Texas Girls

Coaches Association. Davis and Macie LaRue were recognized as 1A-4A Legacy All-Stars selected by TGCA.
Lovell was also selected to play in the TGCA All-Star softball game in July.

Kennard Tigers earned their second straight trip to Round Rock by knocking off Union Hill in a regional series 10-0, 4-5, 16-4. The Tigers' championship dreams were shattered, though, with a 1-0 loss to Nazareth in the state semifinal.

Kennard senior pitcher Dylan Cole was selected for the Class 1A Baseball State Championship All-Tournament team.

Latexo softball coach Greg Horn was named District 25-2A Coach of the Year and Charlee Biano was voted MVP. Katy Allen and Lauren Woodard were named Co-Pitchers of the Year and Baylee Omelina was Catcher of the Year.

Lovelady players awarded District 21-2A Superlatives were Mihia Davis as MVP, Lovell as Defensive MVP, LaRue as Pitcher of the Year and Morgan Womack as Catcher of the Year.

The Lovelady City Council passed a resolution proclaiming "Lovelady Lady Lions Month" to celebrate the softball team's accomplishments.

Post-season softball honors continued to trickle in for Lovelady and Latexo.

Latexo players Charlee Biano and Natalie Nicol were selected for the TGCA All-State Team along with Lovelady's LaRue, Davis and Lovell.

Lovelady tied for ninth place in the UIL Lone Star Cup Standings after a state runner-up softball season.

The 10u Crockett Bulldogs outlasted Onalaska 23-20 in a three-plus hours battle for the District 2 Dixie Youth Baseball Championship and advanced to the Dixie AAA South Regional Tournament.

Lovelady senior baseballer Slade Murray was named Co-Offensive MVP of District 21-2A.

4-H Shooting Sports member Trey Musgrove competed in Abilene, where he finished as HOA (Highest Over All) in the junior division.

Three local softball teams advanced to TTAS State Tournaments. The 12u Crockett Rampage took first in the District 8 tournament and the 10u Lovelady Lady Lions won District 9 and the 15u Lovelady Lady Lions placed second in their district.

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Pugh signs with Southern Arkansas

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120822 Kylie PughLovelady senior Kylie Pugh signs a national letter of intent with the Southern Arkansas University Muleriders as a discus thrower. She is pictured with her parents, Mandy and John Pugh, and sister Shelby during a ceremony Monday afternoon. Photo by Larry Lamb

By Larry Lamb
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

LOVELADY — Senior athlete Kylie Pugh made her college choice official on Monday when she signed a national letter of intent to take her discus-throwing skills to Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia, Ark.

Pugh was Region III discus champion and placed fifth at the UIL class 2A state meet her junior season.

Pugh, who plans to major in elementary education, said SAU is good fit for her because of its small-school atmosphere.

"Going to a class 2A school my entire life, I liked how small and close-knit they are at Southern Arkansas. It reminds me a lot of Lovelady," she said.

Pugh didn't get a chance to compete her freshman year due to Covid, but still devoted many hours to practicing discus throwing. "I had competed in track and field in junior high but I wasn't the best. I really didn't start focusing on discus until my freshman year," she recalled.

Her hard work paid off and Pugh reached the area level in discus competition as a sophomore.

She won the district title her junior year with a 121'-05 1/2" and recorded a PR of 121'-06" in Austin last May.

After getting a taste of competing on the big stage, Pugh wants more her senior year. "My goal is to make it further than I did last year. I'm trying to work my way towards state and hopefully medal there," she said.

A multi-sport athlete, Pugh was All-District Setter of the Year in volleyball this past season and is currently on the Lady Lions basketball team.
Lovelady track coach Will Kirchhoff said, "Southern Arkansas got a heck of a deal with Kylie from the classroom perspective to track and field. She can do everything, so she's a fantastic young lady."

Kirchhoff continued, "Kylie is a hard worker that always puts everybody before herself and wants to do whatever is best for the team. The good thing about track and field is it gives her a chance to shine because she puts in countless hours to get better. It's something that takes a lot of time and dedication to master. She's always stayed the course and every single year she just wants to get a little bit better. She has one more season at Lovelady, so we're excited to see what she's going to do in the spring. She'll be back hunting those medals this year and I promise you she'll work hard for it."

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Lions end season with loss to Mart

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120822 SkinnerLions Ben Monk (60) and Brandon Fry (19) lead the way for Dayvian Skinner (8) on a running play against Mart in the regional final last Friday. Photo by Lawanna Monk

By Lawanna Monk

COLLEGE STATION — Lovelady's best football season in recent years ended with a 56-6 loss to top-ranked Mart in the Class 2A Division II Region III championship Friday night at A&M Consolidated's Tiger Stadium.

Mart (14-0) meets Burton in the state semifinals at 7 p.m. Thursday in Round Rock. New Home (13-1) and Albany (12-2) face off in the other semifinals match-up Thursday in Sweetwater.

Lovelady, which had lost to Mart two straight years in the second-round, ended the 2022 season with a 12-1 record.

Mart turned the ball over on fourth down at the Lion 26 on its first possession but scored on its next five series.

Quarterback Jonah Ross broke a long run to the 13 yard line and scored on a 1-yard plunge at the 2:47 mark in the first quarter.

Mart erupted for four touchdowns in the second quarter for a 35-0 halftime lead.

Early in the second quarter, Ross scored from 2 yards out to cap a 9-play, 78-yard drive. The Panthers, who were perfect on eight extra-point kicks, led 14-0 with 10:28 left in the half.

Forcing the Lions to punt on their next two series, Ross found Wesley Carroll down the right sideline for a 68-yard TD with 8:03 on the clock.

After running back Ja’Deriun Bell zipped 73 yards to paydirt with 3:55 to go, Lovelady marched to the Mart 28 before turning the ball over on downs.

The Panthers took over and drove down the field for a 26-yard TD run by Ross with :55 left in the half.

After another defensive stop by Mart midway through the third quarter, Ross took the first snap and rambled 57 yards for a quick score with 5:43 on the clock.

Late in the third, a high punt by Lovelady gave Mart the ball at the Lion 42. The Panthers scored on a 14-yard run by Bell to make it 49-0 with 11:06 left in the game.

Lovelady finally got a break when Brandon Frye recovered a fumble on the Mart 28. After Skylar Pipkin picked up a yard on the first play, Dayvian Skinner carried to the 11 and took it to the 1 on the next play. Easterling scored on a 1-yard sneak two plays later, but a 2-point conversion came up short, leaving the score 49-6 with 5:24 left.

Mart capped the scoring with a 5-yard run from Jordan Vincent with 1:29 to go.

Early in the second quarter, Easterling threw a deep ball to Pipkin for a 65-yard touchdown that was called back on a holding penalty

The Panther quarterback ran for 208 yards and four touchdowns along with throwing for 128 yards and a score.

Bell added 216 yards and two scores rushing for the Panthers, who rolled up 651 yards for the game.

Dayvian Skinner ran for 135 yards on 20 carries for the Lions, who finished with 171 yards.

This was the final game in a Lovelady football uniform for seniors Shaun Easterling, Jayton Crawford, Landen LeBlanc, Brandon Fry, Cody Davis, Blake Patrick, Troy Shupak, Payton Larkin and Cannon McWhinney.

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Second-half sizzle propels Lions past Carlisle

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12012022 Easterling HurdleLovelady's Shaun Easterling (32) hurdles a Price-Carlisle defender on the way to the end zone in the regional semi-finals Friday night in Palestine. Photo by Lawanna Monk

By Lawanna Monk

PALESTINE — Trailing 21-12 at halftime, the Lovelady Lions pitched a second-half shutout to overcome the Price Carlisle Indians 32-21 in the regional semi-finals Friday night at Westwood's Panther Stadium.

The Lions scored twice in the third quarter to take a 26-21 lead and put the game away with 1:02 left.

After a first quarter defensive struggle that resulted in punts by both teams, the Lions drove to the 5 yard line on their first possession of the second quarter before turning the ball over on downs.

A 40-yard punt return by Jayton Crawford to the 20 yard line sparked the Lions' offense. Shawn Easterling managed six yards on three carries and Dayvian Skinner picked up 13 on two runs before punching the ball in from 1 yard out at the 9:02 mark.
Carlisle started its next series with poor field position when the return man was immediately nailed at the 16-yard line. After picking up 9 yards on two plays, the Indians broke a 75-yard touchdown run. An extra-point kick put the Indians in front 7-6 with 8:33 left in the half.

A fumble on a Lovelady punt set up Carlisle's next score. Punter Skylar Pipkin, forced to scramble under pressure, fumbled and the Indians took over at the Lion 32. The drive started off shaky with two 5-yard penalties, a sack by Skinner and an incomplete pass. The Indians completed a long pass to the 5 yard line and picked up 3 on the next play to set up a 2-yard TD. Another PAT put the Indians up 14-6 with 4:43 left in the half.

Blake Patrick fair-caught the Indians' kickoff and the Lions went to work at their 28. After Easterling escaped to the 10 yard line, the Lions scored three plays later when Cortavies Whitaker hit the outside and went in for the TD.

A two-point conversion attempt was no good, leaving the Lions behind 14-12 with 2:13 left in the half.

After the kick, Carlisle drove down the field and scored on an 11-yard TD pass with :54 left in the half.

Carlisle started the drive at its 26 where Landen LeBlanc stopped the return man but the Indians quickly moved across midfield to the Lion 32 on the first play. Carlisle scored three plays later and tacked on the PAT for a 21-12 halftime lead.

The Lions closed the gap early in the third quarter with a 57-yard scoring drive after Patrick fielded the kickoff at the Lion 43.
Easterling carried four times, including a 20-yarder and threw to Crawford for 17. Skinner picked up five yards on three carries and capped the drive from 4 yards out. Offensive line blocking by Erik Castillo, Ben Monk, Tyler Gilchrist, Silas Strength and Jordan Blackmon opened holes for both Skinner and Easterling.

An unsuccessful conversion left the Lions trailing 21-18 with 7:15 left in the third.

Lovelady fans were able to breathe a little easier after a three-and-out series by Carlisle.

Taking over at their own 34, the Lions scored nine plays later on a 28-yard scamper by Skinner.

The Lions drove across midfield with Easterling and Skinner alternating carries. Easterling picked up 18 to the Carlisle 28 and Skinner took it to the end zone on the next play. Easterling's conversion put Lovelady in front 26-21 with 1:10 left in the third.
An interception by Easterling at the Lion 32 thwarted a Carlisle threat early in the fourth quarter. The Lions drove down the field and turned the ball over on downs at the 4 yard line.

Carlisle's next possession was stymied when Pipkin picked off a pass at the Lion 43.

Lovelady drove down the field and scored with 1:02 left to ice the win.

Back-to-back 18-yard runs by Easterling and Skinner quickly put the Lions at the Carlisle 20. The Lions scored five plays later when Easterling connected with Brandon Fry on a 7-yard end zone toss. A conversion play failed, leaving the Lions with a 32-21 cushion.

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