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  • Last-second prayer unanswered (VIDEO)

    IMG 3690COURTESY PHOTO

    By Brian Besch

    Goodrich had a chance to send Friday's game versus Burkeville into overtime at the buzzer, but fell a bit short in a 49-46 contest. 

    Down by three with nine seconds remaining, Goodrich inbounded the ball. They missed two field goals in the lane before tossing up a last-second heave from behind the arc that bounced off the front of the rim. 

    "It is hard to beat somebody when you can't make free throws," Goodrich coach Lester King said of the team's 8-for-20 performance from the charity stripe. "With all the layups we missed, it is hard. Kids are standing around and they don't realize that you have to rebound." 

    The Hornets led 15-5 after the first period, yet were not on the positive side of any quarter following. 

    The Mustangs had three players score in double digits and only four players that registered a point. The Hornets were led by Joacxi Garzon, who had a game-high of 23 points, Brandon Izaguirre with 10 and Dartavian Nickson with eight. 

    The Hornets have a bye Tuesday and then go to Chester Friday to begin the second half of district play. 

    "We will spend Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday on the baseline (running)," King said. Making free throws will get you off of it. Otherwise, we will stay there a while. 

    "With the type of ball that we play, we haven't played a team yet this year that has shot more free throws. We are playing man-to-man defense. We've got one senior that we will lose and the rest of them are coming back. We've got some kids in eighth grade that are coming up, so we will be pretty good next year." 

    King is beginning to feel better about his team's chances in district. Goodrich has just one win in 28-1A play, but he feels there is enough parity for every game to be competitive. 

    "That was the last game of the first half. We can go through the second-half and beat everybody almost. That should show it right there.  

    "These kids are trying to do too much on offense, but I want you to break your neck on defense -- not offense. Take your time and wait for a good shot. They will see it on video. We had plenty of opportunities and plenty of good shots. If you get to the rim, you should score. We got the lead a little bit and we got relaxed. We stopped really concentrating on defense. I hope we are learning."

     

  • Leggett basketball in postseason once again (VIDEO)

    IMG 4685BRIAN BESCH | PCE Varian Flournoy fights through traffic to the rim.

    By Brian Besch

    The Leggett Pirates punched their ticket to the playoffs Saturday night with a 78-69 triumph over Burkeville at The Summit in Woodville. 

    The neutral-site game was for the third seed of District 28-1A. 

    Leggett began the contest on a 7-0 run and held a 26-8 lead after the first period.

    However, the Mustangs regrouped, pouring in 24 second-quarter points. The difference was just three at 30-27 with 2:30 in the second quarter.

    Leggett extended that seven at 39-32 at the half and would hold a lead from the first bucket to the final buzzer.

    "We got hot -- real hot -- and everything was good," Leggett coach Sean Edwards said of the first period. "They came back in the second quarter. I liked how we hustled and we played team ball. We grabbed the ball a little more and played with effort and heart."
     

    Edwards said he felt like the team did not play with the same intensity in the second and third quarter.

    "We just let the crowd get to us and everything. We've got to be ready for a playoff atmosphere with Kennard (the next opponent) being tougher."

    Chase Parrish led all scores with 28 points, Varian Flournoy had 21, Josh Perkins had 12 and JaColby Sells had 11.

    The win pushes the Pirates into a Tuesday night bi-district matchup with Kennard, the champions of District 27-1A. 

    "It's been a weird season with Covid and the weather. But, if we just take it day by day and game by game, we can make it to regionals and eventually state," Edwards said. "We just have to take it game by game. There is a tough test that we are going to have with Kennard though, they are pretty good and have a 6-4 guard and a good slasher. They are pretty good and have a good coach over there that just came from Latexo. He knows what he's doing."
  • Leggett grinds out victory

    IMG 2522 BRIAN BESCH I PCE Jacoby Sells scored a game-high 21 points Friday in Leggett’s win over Big Sandy.

    By Brian Besch

    LEGGETT - The Leggett Pirates took an impressive 43-36 win over the Big Sandy Wildcats Friday night in Dudley Dickens Gymnasium.

    Leggett secured an early lead in the match largely behind the first-quarter scoring of Chase Parrish, who had 11 points through the first eight minutes.

    “We just came to play and we had a game plan,” Leggett coach Sean Edwards said. “We wanted to slow it down on them and I knew if we played good defense and controlled the tempo, we would win. We just had to run our half-court offense and grind it out.”

    The Pirates showed plenty of hustle on defense, frustrating the ‘Cats offensively. At the half, the home team held a 21-14 advantage.

    “Defense is always No. 1 and it's a tradition — it's always defense,” Edwards said. “We cut down our turnovers and that was a good thing, but we just have to learn how to finish games. It's the most perfect game we have played all year long.”

    The Wildcats played a better second half, slowly chipping away at the deficit. They took their first lead in the game with 4:30 remaining in the fourth quarter at 32-31 just after Parrish fouled out. 

    “I thought Leggett played great and played with a lot more intensity than we did,” Wildcat coach Kevin Foster said. “They executed better than we did, and offensively, we turned the ball over. When we got good looks, we couldn't make anything.”

    Jacoby Sells scored 14 points in the second half to help put his team back on top. For the night, he had 21 points and Parrish had 19 points for the Pirates. The Wildcats were paced by Kaden Foster with 11 (nine in the second half) and Weston Mayer, who had eight points.

    “Even with all of that with the turnovers and as bad as we played, if we make our free throws late, it's at least a one-possession game or maybe we even win it,” the Big Sandy coach said. “It was one of those nights where we didn't do anything to help ourselves win. In all honesty, and I just told the kids this, we didn't deserve to win that game. Even if we would have come back and won it, we didn't do enough. Every loose ball and every rebound, they seemed to get, and those are effort things.”

  • Leggett tackles state-ranked Kennard

    IMG 4923BRIAN BESCH | PCE

    By Brian Besch

    The bi-district round of the playoffs was not easy, but the Leggett Pirates outlasted state-ranked Kennard 39-36 in Huntington Tuesday.

    Down 30-26 in the fourth, Kennard received contributions from five different players and outscored Leggett 10-9. However, a heave from behind the arc in the final second did not fall and allowed the Pirates and their fans to celebrate.

    Leggett coach Sean Edwards felt that Tuesday's performance over the No. 17 team in 1A was the most complete of the year.

    "I told the kids that you have to think about 10 years down the road -- any regrets or what you should've, could've, would've (done)," he said. "It is just representing your school, your family and everybody that was at Leggett before you. It is starting to jell and they know it is playoff time. I see serious on their face."

    The game was the first competition in over a week for Kennard.

    "We were very rusty," Tiger coach Cory Carden said. "We came off of almost a week and a half of no basketball. It really kind of put a dent in what we're doing. They got to play on Saturday and we could say excuses for all of that, but it came down to who wanted it more. I think they got more loose balls and they were scrapping too. They came out and won the first couple of minutes and I think that's kind of what kept their momentum the rest of the game."

    Leggett established an early lead, but the Tigers would quickly recover. Hitting a 3-pointer to close the first quarter, Kennard held an 8-7 advantage.

    Down 20-15 at the half, the Pirates went to work in the third. They began a 15-3 run to go up 12 until a Tiger 3-pointer from Dylan Cole ended the period.

    "We got in foul trouble and we had to slow it down and play a half-court game," Leggett coach Sean Edwards said. (Our plan) was to press and run them. They broke it and they were banging us inside and they were physical at first. We had to change some stuff up in the second half and come with it."

    Edwards agreed that the offense was able to relax a bit after ditching the full-court press.

    "We play different types and different styles. We can play slow or fast, but we have to go with what gets us the win that night."

    Leggett's JaColby Sells finished with 18 points, tops on the night. Teammate Chase Parrish added eight and Garrett Francois hit an important bucket and free throws in the final quarter. Kennard's Cole led the Tigers with eight points, while Jacob Catoe and Okoye Smotherman each had seven.

    The Tigers finish the 2020-21 season with a district championship and plenty of individual accolades.

    "We had a great year and I hate that it went down this way," Carden said. "We've played a lot better than this. We came out tonight, I think a little overconfident and rusty, but we had a great season. We topped at 17th in the state and I'm going to have an all-district MVP and I'm going to have first team all-district players. We had a great year, it is just that tonight was not our night. Games like this when it is playoff time, that one night is going to cost you. The playoffs are not forgiving at all."

  • Leggett, Livingston face off to begin schedule (VIDEO)

    legg and livBRIAN BESCH | PCE Livingston took a 60-44 home win over the 1A powerhouse.

    By Brian Besch

    LIVINGSTON - The Leggett Pirates and Livingston Lions did not exactly ease into the season with cupcake games. The two Polk County schools squared off against each other Saturday, with Livingston taking a 60-44 home win over the 1A powerhouse.

    Leggett actually began the contest with a 7-0 lead, as the Lions needed a few minutes to adjust to the game's speed.

    "It started out real good, but we just have to do a better job of protecting the paint and matching up with other teams," Leggett head coach Sean Edwards said. "Coach (Calvin) Phillips knows what he is doing over there and they are going to be OK. Livingston is going to be competitive this year. He even has three guys that he is missing, so he is even going to be better.”

    Even though the Lions were missing a few due to football, they were able to show off a deep bench. Eight of the nine players dressed for the game contributed points.

    Jeston Kowis led all scores with 16 points for Livingston, newcomer Adyn Stewart had a dozen and Gage Morris had nine. For Leggett, Varian Flournoy had 12, Chase Parrish had 10. Both Jacoby Sells and freshman Josh Perkins finished with seven points.

    Just as last year’s team, Livingston possesses plenty of size, even adding some for the latest version.

    That proved to be a difficult task for the smaller Pirates.

    “We are small this year and my 6-5 post got hurt, and for medical reasons, he can't come back and play," Edwards said. "We had another guy move to Splendora, but it is what it is. We are small this year and we are going to have to out-quick them, but sometimes you run out of gas.”

    State-ranked Leggett may not have the offensive firepower as they have the past few years, but the team will still be able to collect plenty of wins on the 1A level.

    “It is going to be defense,” Edwards said of keys to success. “We have to control the tempo, it is simple and easy. We are not going to be scoring 95 or 100 this year. We have to play defense and take it possession by possession. Of course, I'm
    going to coach to what I have, so that's what we have to do.”

    The Lions may have a few different ways to earn victories in the 2020-21 season. Their size should prove to be an asset both on defense and in rebounding, but they will also receive an injection of speed now that football season has come to an end.

    "It's going to let us do what we want to do," new Lion head coach Calvin Phillips said. "The press with Julian (Gardner) and Izzy (Enard), that is going to be our quicks up front. We can play a lot more man-to-man in full court like I want, but it all depends on what we see, how we break down film and see what works best for us. I'm not trying to be a big entertainer; we just have to get some wins. (The additional players) will give us some more shooters too."

    Phillips said aggression has been a big key and something emphasized in practices. Once the team regained its footing Saturday, aggression made the difference in the outcome.

    “We started off kind of slow and we were a little bit soft and backing off, but once the aggression came around and we started hitting the floor and started getting turnovers, I thought that was the difference in the game right there," Phillips said. "We got some breakaway shots and Coach (Stephen) Seaback works transition every day. Overall, every phase of the game was OK, but we still have a lot of work to do. I was impressed with the half-court game. We went to a zone, which really helped us a lot. It wasn't bad for the first game, considering who they (Leggett) are, because they play hard.”

    After allowing 16 points in the first quarter, the Lions held Leggett to single digits in both the second and third period to slowly distance themselves.

    Livingston was consistent on offense each quarter and outscored the Pirates in all four frames.

    "Seaback and I both are always working something as far as some kind of
    shooting drill," the Lion coach said. "Our pet peeve is defense and we have to stop people. It isn't going to do any good to go out there and score 100 points and
    let them score 100 points. I like the fast game and I like the man-to-man defense, but you have to pick your poison. We had to fall back and play more zone than I wanted to play, but it worked out for us. All I want is a victory and get that first victory in my belt."

  • Livingston nips Onalaska (Video)

    Livingston Onalaska 12 15 2020

    By Brian Besch
    Photos by Brian Besch

    LIVINGSTON— The Livingston Lions escaped Tuesday with a narrow 59-55 home win over Onalaska. 

    With several lead changes in the final period, the Lions were able to hold off a surging Wildcat squad. Onalaska put up 20 points in the fourth quarter to keep the game in doubt until the last four seconds.

    “I'm proud of my kids, especially being down two starters,” Onalaska coach Nick Tyerman said. “To have this game and play as well as they did, I am so proud of them. When you look at the other side, they have the depth and we had five left. We had one get hurt and one foul out. It was a great game, but not what we want, because we always want to win the game. For our last competition before district starts Friday, I feel great.”

    Tyerman said Tuesday's game was one of the best that his team has played on the young season.

    “Probably close to it. There was good execution and good patience and a good all-around game on both sides of the ball, which I'm very proud of. I love how much we moved around on defense. We flew around to the ball and drew a lot of charges, we closed out hard and we made it tough for them to score. I think they really didn't start getting it inside until we started getting a little gassed there at the end.”

    Lion Chris Washington led all scores in the game with 23 points, Jontavian McNeal had nine and Willie Fagan had eight. For the Wildcats, Chase Fletcher led with 15 points and blocked several shots, Kevin Redden had 14 points and Ryan Kratz added a dozen. 

    Early on, the Wildcats held an 8-3 advantage before Livingston found their footing. A late 3-pointer put Onalaska up by one going into the second quarter. The Lions moved back in the front and remained there until the fourth quarter, holding leads of as large as 16 points.

    “We went to full-court man some and then we came back and just put pressure on the ball, and that got us back a little bit,” Livingston coach Calvin Phillips said. “Every game that we've had the last few ball games, we've kind of been behind. It is always us coming in on man-to-man defense, making a quick steal and going down to score to turn the game around.

    “I didn't think we guarded the ball very well. That was something I was a little afraid of going in — that the 3-ball was going to hurt us. We went out there with our hands down. The times that we got up there and got our hands up and guarded the ball, they didn't hit their shots. I thought that was the key. You can't take it away from them; they shoot the hell out of the 3-ball.”

    Perimeter shots were falling for the Wildcats, which always seems to be a little more important in Onalaska. Previous teams by the lake have lived on the 3-pointer, but Tyerman believes that is changing a bit this year.

    “This year, we've been more 50/50,” the Wildcat coach said. “They, for some reason, were playing more for our drive, and I think that is because the last few games we have been attacking more. That is what has been there. We are so known for our 3-point shooting that everyone wants to take that away. Now we've become a little more balanced and we're better at reading the defense, where we can see what they are going to give us today. We are taking advantage of it.”

    Down by eight going into the fourth quarter, the ‘Cats continued to work their way back into the contest. They took a one-point lead at 47-46 with 4:30 remaining. 

    With just 22 seconds to go, Onalaska’s Kratz hit a free throw that tied the game at 55. Fagan connected on a jumper in the lane to put the Lions back on top by two. After a defensive stand, Washington was fouled and made good on both of his free throws to put the game out of reach with four seconds on the clock.

    Though it was there at the end when the Lions needed it most, Phillips said he worries about his half-court offense because his team lacks patience at times.

    “We have to win off of our pressure defense, because if we don't, we are going to have a hard time. Everything has to be in transition getting layups off of steals and that type of stuff. If we get it going, it's going to be a little bit different.”

  • Lovelady girls open hoop season with victory (VIDEO)

    Lovelady CoachLARRY LAMB | HCC Lovelady girls basketball coach Kollyn McWhinney gives instructions to players during their season opener against Crockett.

    By Larry Lamb

    Lovelady’s girls basketball season got off to a winning start under new head coach Kollyn McWhinney against county rival Crockett, 58-27, on the road Tuesday, Nov. 10.

    The Lady Lions led 14-6 after a quarter, 26-12 at halftime and 37-19 at the end of three.

    Macie LaRue had the hot hand in the middle quarters when she scored 13 of her 17 points (1 trey) to pace Lovelady’s offense.

    Shyanne Pipkin, a returning all-district second-team honoree, scored 11 (1 trey) and Kortney Bynum rounded out double figures with 10.

    Aaliyah Jones canned 6, while Morgan Womack, Haley Davidson and Shelby Pugh scored four apiece. Rojanae Polhamus, a returning all-district first-teamer, tossed in 2.

    Crockett’s scoring was led by Quenisha Henderson with 10 (1 trey). Tocarra Johnson had 7, Ty’Shonda Bell 4 and La’Kyriah Hamilton drained a 3-pointer. Keaton Crabtree, A’Naya Wooten and Ja’Kenya Tryon each had a free throw.

    Before coming to Lovelady, McWhinney was head coach at Class 3A Marion High School for 16 seasons. She passed the 300-win milestone during the 2016-17 season and finished the 2019-2020 season with a total of 363 victories.

    Lovelady CrockettGirlsBasketballLARRY LAMB | HCC Crockett’s Quenisha Henderson and Lovelady’s Haley Davidson scramble for a loose ball in a county rivalry matchup Tuesday, Nov. 10 at The Hop in Crockett.

    After finishing third in the district last season, the Lady Lions beat Cayuga in bi-district and then knocked off a highly ranked Marlin squad before being eliminated by Crawford in the third round.

    Texas Basketball magazine’s prediction for District 20-2A is a repeat of last year. Grapeland (35-5, 12-0) is the projected champion, followed by Centerville (25-9, 10-2), Lovelady (25-12, 7-5) and Jewett Leon (12-9, 6-6). Slocum, Groveton and Latexo round out the district.

    Lovelady opens district play Dec. 11 on the road against Groveton.

    The Lady Bulldogs are playing catch-up after missing the first two weeks of practice due to Covid-19 quarantine.

    Crockett begins its District 20-3A schedule Dec. 8 at home against Teague.

  • Onalaska Lady Cats defeat Goodrich (VIDEO)

    IMG 1824BRIAN BESCH | PCE The Onalaska Lady Cats leave Goodrich with a 71-15 victory Friday over the Lady Hornets.

     
    By Brian Besch

    The Onalaska Lady Cats used a few different presses to leave Goodrich with a 71-15 victory Friday over the Lady Hornets.

    Behind 23 points from Kierra Anstee, 14 from Kylie Sisk, and 12 by Jordyn Shutter, the Lady Cats won a game that was never in doubt.

    Onalaska opened the contest with an 18-0 advantage, picking off passes and tipping the ball away from Goodrich dribblers. By halftime, the Lady Cats were on the positive side of a 38-4 lead.

    “We are 2-1. We've lost a heartbreaker at Pineywoods (Christian Academy),” Onalaska head coach Ashley Sustaita said. “We were up with 20 seconds to go and turned the ball over twice to let them tie it and then let them take the lead. To be in a game this year with a great opponent — it's a good feeling. It's one of those losses you're not even mad at because, looking at last year, we weren't even supposed to be in a game like that. We have a deep bench and a lot of good talent.”

    Sustaita has 11 players to deploy at any point, and was able to rotate five new faces in at a time, while Goodrich was forced to play its same five the entire game.

    The Lady Cats should rely on defense and a few different looks defensively in the 2020-21 season. On Friday, both a full-court and half-court press gave the opponent trouble.

    “We want to run and we want to press. We've been working really hard on the rotation and we have a couple of other things we've been throwing in as far as the press,” Sustaita said. “I think our speed is going to kill. We've been able to run teams into the ground pretty good, so I'm excited.”

    The Onalaska coach believes small details such as transition defense, blocking out and consistently putting the ball in the basket will be what the team needs to work on before district play.

    “We put in a lot of specific drills that I think are paying off now,” Sustaita said. “They are able to knock it down and do a good job of not getting down on themselves when things aren’t falling early.”

    Goodrich was led by Breya Passmore, who scored seven of her team’s 15 points. Jamya Garrett and Aralyn Angel each added three points. The team played its best basketball in the fourth quarter, where a winded bunch was able to score in double digits.

    “We have to keep working and it is a whole different level now from junior high,” Goodrich coach Khadijah Carter said of her baby bees. “We have to learn that.”

    Carter has a monumental task of developing four freshmen, a sophomore and, as of now, no bench. The team just ended a successful cross country season and has yet to practice with all five team members.

    “Really, we're just working on offensive plays and we are running a 2-3 zone,” Carter said. “We have to stretch that zone as much as we can, and I am thinking about going to man. It is a little difficult right now and not being able to practice with a full team has been tough. Once I get at least a full week with full-team practices, we should be OK.”

    Playing every minute, the Lady Hornets will be in good shape quickly. Those who may not have participated in cross country before are getting the same impact now.

    “If anything, we are going to be in shape and a fit team. By the end of December — and we start district in December now — I think by then we will have it,” the Goodrich coach said. “We have to. I will have it right and we will be a more developed team.”

  • Pirates bounce back

                                   JASON CHLAPEK I SJNT Shepherd guard Dillen Johnson (11) shoots over a defender during a recent game.

    From Staff Reports

    SHEPHERD — In a bizarre week that featured three games in a four-day span, the Shepherd boys basketball team maintained its stronghold on third place in the District 21-4A standings with a pair of wins last week.

    The Pirates suffered a 66-50 setback at the hands of Hardin-Jefferson on Jan. 26, but bounced back to defeat Splendora, 56-45, on Jan. 27, and held off Liberty, 65-59, last Friday. Shepherd (13-10, 6-3 in 21-4A) hosted Livingston Tuesday night, and had a chance to clinch a playoff spot with a victory.

    In last Friday’s win at Liberty, the Pirates dominated the first three quarters and led 47-24 heading into the final quarter. But the Panthers went on a 35-18 run to pull within six, 65-59, by the end of the contest.

    Trase Thiessen led Shepherd with 23 points, while Carlos Renovato had 18. Bradley Davis (9 points, 14 rebounds) and Dillen Johnson (8 points, 9 rebounds) also contributed.

    In the Pirates’ victory at Splendora on Jan. 27, they held a slim lead throughout and were led by a 14-point performance from Jesse Valerie and a double-double from Johnson (10 points, 11 rebounds). Renovato (11 points, 9 rebounds) and Thiessen (13 points) also contributed.

    In the home loss to Hardin-Jefferson on Jan. 26, Shepherd trailed 45-39 going into the fourth before the Hawks soared to victory with a 21-11 game-ending run. Davis and Renovato led the Pirates with 20 and 16 points, respectively.

    Shepherd visits Hamshire-Fannett at 6 p.m. Friday and hosts Huffman Hargrave at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

  • Pirates take defensive struggle

    IMG 2403 BRIAN BESCH I PCE Freshman Josh Perkins shoots for two of his 20 points Wednesday.

    By Brian Besch

    LEGGETT - Leggett hosted their neighbors to the north Wednesday, defeating Corrigan-Camden 50-38.

    Josh Perkins led all scores with 20 and Chase Parrish had 19 to pace the Pirates. The freshman Perkins was lethal in the second half, pouring in 18 points in just two periods.

    “He is going to be a scorer,” Pirate coach Sean Edwards said of Perkins. “He was a little nervous the first couple of games, but he has gotten better. When we played (Hull-) Daisetta, he did real good and he is stepping up his game. It's going to be completely different this season because we have to live and die by defense, but we have to play more half-court offense as well. “We have to be patient with everybody sharing the ball more too this year.”

    The Pirates have put together back-to-back victories after beginning the season 0-3, while playing up in classification.

    The first quarter of Wednesday’s game began a little slow at 4-2 in favor of the ‘Dogs, as both offenses needed time gain traction.

    “We started off slow and a little sluggish. With (a first-quarter score of) 4-2, I thought we were at a little dribblers game,” Edwards said. “I think it was more of nerves than anything, but we'll be fine. I am happy with how we are tough and running help more half-court offense. We need to work on taking care of the ball. We had 22 turnovers again, and we can't go far with that.”

    A 12-point run in the second quarter allowed the Pirates to take an 18-13 lead into the half. Leggett would score 17 and 15 in the final quarters to further distance themselves and take the game.

    For Corrigan, Tra Thomas had a dozen points and Tony Cooper had nine.

    “Tonight wasn't one of our better games,” new Corrigan-Camden coach Andrew Kirkendoff said. “I thought we could have handled the ball better. There are a lot of things that we have to work on, but I think coming to a program that really never had a focus on basketball, we're just trying to build a program. It is a day-by-day process and I think by district we’ll be ready.”

    The Bulldogs are currently 0-3 on the young season, with a loss to Palestine Westwood by seven and Groveton by four.

    “I think we are small, so we have to work together,” Kirkendoff said. “As you can see, we had trouble rebounding. I've got a couple of guards that can play and I think when they understand the game better and understand what I'm trying to do in the system, I think will be a whole lot better.”

  • Playing together as a team (VIDEO)

    IMG 3533BRIAN BESCH | PCE Kenadi Houser shoots for two in the lane.

    By Brian Besch

    The Onalaska Lady Cats proved just how far the team has come in a month's time, defeating New Waverly 63-27 Friday by the lake.

    In their first meeting, the Lady Dogs took a 51-37 match from December. Whether revenge, redemption, payback or just the will to win, Onalaska left little doubt from the start. They took an early 14-4 lead and led by 11 by the end of the first period. 

    A quarter later, the advantage grew to 32-12.

    "If you go back to the game that we played at New Waverly, it wasn't even the same team," Onalaska coach Ashley Sustaita said. "We have done a complete rehaul of attitude and mindsets. They are totally bought in to their role and their job, and it's all 12 of them. They do such a good job of doing what I need them to and what the team needs them to do."

    The struggles for New Waverly continued, as a suffocating Lady Cat defense held the opponent to just 14 points through three quarters. 

    "We don't have a dominant kid and we've had teams try to box-and-one us," Sustaita said. "We just have such a great team right now and it is awesome to be a part of."

    Sustaita feels each player knowing their role and how they fit into the team was the problem before. That appears to be settled, with the team shuffling five girls in and out and each playing a part.

    "It's easy to want to be the top dog or not have any responsibility. I'm very open with my girls and very transparent with what I want them to do to be successful. We definitely put 'we' before 'me' every single day.

    "I always tell my kids that we don't have starters. We have five kids that I think we need to start the game, but they know that it may not be the five that we need to finish the game to win it for us. Being ready on the bench and being active in the game is so important."

    Kierra Anstee led the Lady Cats with 19 points, Kenadi Houser and Jordyn Shutter each had a dozen, and Maddie Stelck had eight.

    "We have some freshmen who have stepped up defensively and have done a good job. It has been awesome to see our juniors take them under their wing and be excited for them. 

    "On the last play, it was a freshman that shot the ball and my junior point guard is over there losing her mind for her. That is family and it is what we preach. I think we've done a good job of changing the culture here for women's basketball at Onalaska."

  • Ready for the challenge (VIDEO)

    IMG 3389BRIAN BESCH | PCE Corynn Kaleh had six points in the first quarter and eight for the game.

    Lady Cats prepare for two games that will determine district lead

    By Brian Besch

    Tuesday’s game in Dallardsville seemed more of a formality than competition, as Big Sandy easily outscored Spurger 69-14.

    The home team overpowered the Lady Pirates 42-3 in the first half and never allowed more than six points (fourth) in any quarter.

    “We have battled a little bit of injury since the Christmas break, but overall, I have been pleased with the way we have been playing,” Big Sandy coach Ryan Alec said of his group. “We've beaten some quality teams over the break and we also lost to a quality team in Central Pollok at their place. They were a good, solid team. We got a chance to see what a really great team looks like.”

    Alexis Thompson led the way on the scoreboard, with 28 points in just three quarters. The sophomore point guard hit eight 3-pointers. Faith Geller had 19 points, connecting three times from behind the arc, and Kalyssa Dickens collected 10 points.

    The Lady Cats are undefeated going into an important two-game stint of district contests. Both could prove to be pivotal in determining District 24-2A seeding for the postseason.

    “In my opinion, it is going to come down to us, West Sabine and Broaddus,” Alec said of the title race. “I think all of us will battle it out for the top spot. With West Sabine, we are going to have to match their intensity and we will have to play well. We play at their place on Friday and that is always a tough place to play.

    “You always tried to take games one game at a time and our focus is on West Sabine now. We have Broaddus at home on Tuesday, which will be another tough battle. They are very aggressive and play extremely hard. That will be another tough game.”

    The challenges are something the coach believes his team is prepared to face.

    “We're ready and I think the kids are excited for Friday night. They know how big of a game Friday night is going to be in West Sabine.”

     

  • Sandies advance to state semifinal

     MG 5462COURTESY PHOTO | MARSHA COOK Grapeland’s Cadarian Wiley brings fans to their feet with a slam-dunk in the regional championship game against LaPoynor Saturday.

    By Larry Lamb

    Revenge is always satisfying but a win that moves you a step closer to a state basketball championship is even sweeter.

    The No. 3 Grapeland Sandies (28-1) took down No. 4 LaPoynor 75-57 in the regional final Friday at Fairfield.

    LaPoynor put the only blemish on the Sandies’ resume back on Dec. 12 when the Flyers notched a 61-56 non-district road win.

    Grapeland advances to the state semifinals against Schulenburg Tuesday at Aldine ISD’s Campbell Center. Schulenburg, ranked No. 20 in the final TABC poll, knocked off No. 7 Port Aransas 57-50 in the regional final.

    The winner of the Grapeland-Schulenburg game advances to the championship game at the Alamodome in San Antonio Saturday at 10 a.m.

    No. 2 Clarendon and No. 8 Lipan will face off for the other state tournament berth.

    LaPoynor led 12-10 after a quarter but didn’t have an answer for a barrage of seven 3-pointers by Grapeland that fueled a 32-11 run in the second quarter.

    By halftime the Sandies were firmly in control 42-23 behind B.J. Lamb’s four treys and a pair of deuces in the second quarter. Riley Murchison drained a pair of treys and Johnny Lamb swooshed in another from 3-point range at the buzzer for a 19-point advantage.

    Grapeland’s second quarter flurry also included five points by Keizion Ashford and a basket by Omarian Wiley.

    The Flyers came out energized in the third quarter and reeled off an 11-2 run to whittle the lead down to 44-34.

    Momentum shifted back to the Sandies when Ashford buried a trey and an electrifying two-handed dunk by Cadarian Wiley pushed their lead to 49-34 with 3:00 left in the third.

    After Murchison scored on a put-back and Ashford converted a steal to go up by 18, LaPoynor drilled a trey with 40 seconds left in the quarter.

    B.J. Lamb took the ball the length of the court in the waning seconds and laid it in at the buzzer for a 57-40 lead.

    LaPoynor refused to go away quietly and opened the fourth quarter with a 12-4 run to get within nine.

    After Cadarian Wiley slammed home his second dunk of the night and Mike Dancer scored a bucket, the Flyers rattled off nine unanswered points to make it 61-52 with 5:20 left.

    Grapeland put the game away with a 14-0 run that included three baskets by Cadarian Wiley and one by Omarian Wiley, along with perfect 4-of-4 free throw shooting by B.J. Lamb and two by Murchison.

    B.J. Lamb paced the Sandies with 24 points followed by Cadarian Wiley with 16, Murchison with 12 and Ashford with 10. Omarian Wiley had six points, Dancer four and Johnny Lamb three.

    Ashford led the Sandies with seven steals and five assists.

    Garrett Nuckolls, who was scoreless in the first half, led LaPoynor with 14 and Cooper Gracey had 12.

    LaPoynor was declared a Class 1A State Co-Champion last year after winning its state semifinal game before the UIL suspended the tournament due to COVID-19 concerns. LaPoynor was elevated to class 2A when the UIL announced its 2020-2022 realignment and reclassification.

  • Strong fourth quarter lifts Trojans

    IMG 3764BRIAN BESCH | PCE Dante Eldridge drives to the hoop.

    BY BRIAN BESCH

    The Trojans of Coldspring-Oakhurst used a late kick to handily defeat Onalaska, 90-44, Jan. 26, in San Jacinto County.

    Onalaska managed to remain within striking distance of the defending state semifinalists for part of the third quarter, but Coldspring found another gear. The Trojan press was successful more times than not late in the contest, allowing for a 39-point final period.

    "I thought we were a little rusty through the first three quarters," Coldspring coach Greg Devers said. "We haven't played since last Tuesday and I had some kids out, so we didn't get a chance to practice yesterday. We were wide open and we had threes and we had layups. Our defense was there and our quickness was there, but we just couldn't go."

    Through four minutes in the fourth quarter, Coldspring scored 27 points and ended with 39 for the eight-minute span. Duke Lawniczak led all scorers with 32, freshman Luke Monroe had 14 -- all in the fourth quarter --and Jared Curry scored 12.

    "I hope that kind of carries over,” Devers said of his team's fourth-quarter performance. “We are trying to get our rotation going and get ready for the playoffs.

    "I thought Coach (Nicholas) Tyerman did a great job and I told him not to show that press break to anybody, because at the end of the third quarter, it was an 11-point game. He did a great job of preparing his kids for tonight."

    It has been a while since Coldspring has been challenged within district, but New Waverly put a stop to the Trojans 39-game winning streak a few weeks ago.

    "New Waverly is one of the top teams in this region. They are 18-1 and ranked No. 7 and we are 13-1 and ranked No. 12. The big showdown is going to be next Friday at New Waverly. Kind of like us last year, I think they are going to be the team to beat. We are not going to just let them have our district title. I hope we will have a couple of tricks up our sleeves when we play next Friday."

    Devers said his team lacks the depth that they possessed during last year's run to the state tournament in San Antonio. He is looking for a few athletes to step into larger roles once the postseason begins. He also wants the team to work on its half-court defense.

    Onalaska has struggled in the 20-21 season, but Tyerman sees improvement in his group. There were flashes of potential throughout the first three quarters of Tuesday.

  • Survive and advance

    IMG 4868BRIAN BESCH | PCE Adrian Thompson (3) of Big Sandy shoots a jumper in the lane.

    By Brian Besch

    The Big Sandy Wildcats left Kirbyville Monday night with the promise of another game, after holding on to beat Shelbyville 55-53 in the bi-district round of the UIL playoffs. 

    Down for much of the first half, the pace of the game appeared too quick in for the 'Cats in the opening period. Down 19-12 after the opening eight minutes, they settled in and took better care of the ball. 

    "Obviously, we got off to a shaky start and the pressure hurt us especially," Big Sandy coach Kevin Foster said. "I don't know if it was playoff jitters or what. (Shelbyville is) real athletic, but I felt like if we could ever really settle down, we would be OK. Right before the half, we took the lead, but we had a few mistakes that weren't real smart on our part."

    With 2:18 to go in the second quarter, Big Sandy pulled ahead at 26-25. The Dragons ended the half with a few buckets to go back up, 31-28.

    "Every team out there is in the same boat," Foster said. "We haven't played in nine days. We practiced a little bit last week. Their district was very tough and there are a lot of good teams in it. That helps a team like them coming in."

    A turning point in the contest was a six-point swing, as Adrian Thompson hit a shot under the hoop and received two technical shots after he was shoved to the floor. The Wildcats inbounded after and Thompson hit a jumper in the lane.
     


    The Dragons were held to eight points in the third and fourth quarters. Big Sandy forced Shelbyville to settle for many outside shots over the final three periods, outscoring the Dragons in each.

    "They stretched it out again and we just kept telling the kids to chip away at it the best you can," the Wildcat coach said. "We didn't do great down the stretch, but we did just enough and made just enough free throws. We turned it over too much and they made some big shots late."

    Seth Beene-Williams led with 15 points, Kaden Foster scored 14 and Thompson had 13. Brayden Hand led the Dragons with a dozen and Jakivian Calhoun had 10. 

    Big Sandy moves on to challenge the victor of the Mount Union/Woden contest. Foster believes his team's next game will occur Thursday.
  • Too little too late (VIDEO)

    IMG 2610BRIAN BESCH | PCE Livingston’s Jon’Toyrian McNeal scored a game-high 27 points Tuesday.

    Liberty versus Livingston Lady Lions

    By Brian Besch

    The Livingston Lady Lions suffered their second district loss in as many games Tuesday, as the Liberty Lady Panthers escaped Polk County with a 45-42 win.

    “It was rough,” Livingston coach Brittany Jefferson said. “I at least expected the girls to come out here and do what they were supposed to do. They came out and, just to be honest, they had no energy whatsoever. We wouldn't box out, we didn't get rebounds, the turnovers with the guards that I had — we were just giving the ball straight to Liberty. They just didn't do what they were supposed to do.”

    The game Tuesday was a case of too little too late. The defending district champions seemingly picked up their intensity and focus in spots, but could not sustain a high level of play. A fourth-quarter comeback attempt fell short.

    Leading 9-4 in the first quarter, Liberty went on a 12-3 run and eventually took a 22-19 advantage into the break at the half. The Lady Panthers came out of the locker room and put another eight points up before Livingston answered.

    “The last two minutes of the game, they wanted to pick it up and tried to pick it up, but it's too late,” Jefferson said. “You are supposed to do that at the beginning. When you are trying to do that in the last two minutes of the game and you are down by six or eight points, it's too late. You should have just picked it up at the beginning. If they would have played like they did in the last two minutes, then it probably would have been an easy win. Since they didn't do that, it just didn't happen.”

    Liberty’s Madyson Goudeau led the Lady Panthers with 15 points, Drelyn Willis had 13, and Reese Evans added eight. For Livingston, Jon’Toyrian McNeal had 27 points, Z Garner finished with eight and Natavia Davis had seven.

    Livingston is now winless in two district games, dropping the first to district favorite Hardin-Jefferson in a lopsided 103-10 blowout.

    “I would have assumed that, hopefully, we would have been 1-1 now,” the coach said. “We just have to take it as it is and, hopefully, they'll learn from it. If not, it is going to be a long, long, long season.”

    Jefferson most wants her team to be able to take care of the ball. The team had problems setting up and executing an offense because of an inability to control the basketball.

    The Lady Lions’ next opportunity to get in the district win column will be Dec. 18 on the road at Hamshire-Fannett.

    Discuss this story in the East Texas News Forum

  • Trinity boys outclassed in season opener

    GBKB2TONY FARKAS | TCN Trinity Lady Tiger Rayn Balli (No. 22) drives around Groveton defenders during a Nov. 7 game in Trinity. The Lady Tigers defeated the Lady Indians 44-22.

    By Tony Farkas

    TRINITY — An extended football season led to a late start for the Trinity Tigers’ basketball squad, and the lack of playing time may have led to the 88-33 loss to Livingston on Friday in the teams’ first game.

    Livingston took advantage of more playing time, as well as a distinct height advantage, during the game.

    Head Coach Jacoby Mitchell said there was only five days of practice before their season opener, and that combined with having some key starters out was a factor in the loss.

    “We had too many turnovers, we have to take care of ball better than that,” Mitchell said. “We have to work on taking great shots, not just good shots.”

    Trinity now stands 0-1 on the season, and Livingston improved its record to 2-0.

    Mitchell said his top producers in the game were Jakai Miller-Gates, who scored 13 points, and Terius Maxie, who dropped in 10 points.

    Area Roundup

    Boys Basketball

    • Apple Springs (0-2)
    • Nov. 20 vs. Spurger, 75-40 loss.
    • Nov. 17 vs Chester, 45-43 loss.
    • Groveton (1-0)
    • Nov. 14 vs. Westwood, 55-47 win.

    Girls Basketball

    TRINITY — A cross-county rivalry left the Lady Tigers with a 44-22 win over the Lady Indians on Nov. 7.

    The win puts Trinity at 3-1 while Groveton drops to 0-2.

    Girls basketball roundup

    Apple Springs:

    • Nov. 10 vs. Zavalla, 45-42 loss.
    • Nov. 17 vs. Chester, 32-28 loss.

    Groveton:

    • Nov. 13 vs. San Augustine: 41-37 loss.

    Trinity:

    • Nov. 10 vs. Hearne, 56-42 loss.
    • Nov. 13 vs. Latexo, 48-22 win.
    • Nov. 14 vs. Centerville, 37-34 win.
  • Trinity County Basketball Score Roundup

    121720 bkb 1TONY FARKAS | TCNS Trinity Tiger Terius Maxie (No. 22 white) goes over a Lovelady defender during the team’s Dec. 8 matchup, which Trinity won 59-51.

    BOYS BASKETBALL

    Trinity

    Dec. 12 vs. Alpha Omega, 68-53 loss.

    Dec. 8 vs. Lovelady, 59-51 win.

    Groveton

    Dec. 11 vs. Hemphill, 56-35 loss.

    Centerville

    No scores reported

    Apple Springs

    Dec. 11 vs. Colmesneil, 58-25 loss

    Dec. 8 vs. Zavalla, 45-36 win

     

    121720 bkb 3COURTESY PHOTO A host of Groveton Lady Indians go for the ball during the team’s win over Lovelady on Friday.

    GIRLS BASKETBALL

    Trinity

    Dec. 11 vs. Tarkington, 55-44 loss.

    Dec. 8 vs. Corrigan-Camden, 64-31 win.

    Groveton

    No scores reported.

    Centerville

    No scores reported

    Apple Springs

    Dec. 11 vs. Kennard, 36-21 win.

    Dec. 8 vs. Neches, 62-15 loss.

  • Trinity downs Woodville (VIDEO)

    IMG 3711TONY FARKAS | TCNS Trinity’s Jakai Miller-Gates (No. 13) goes up for two of his 18 points during a Dec. 4 match with Woodville. The Tigers won the game 62-59.

    TCNS staff

    TRINITY — Practice made for almost perfect as the Trinity Tigers downed the Woodville Eagles 62-59 on Friday.

    Head Coach Jacoby Mitchell credited gym time for the improvement over their opening game.

    “I felt like we been in the gym a lot more, and they were realizing what is a good shot and a great shot, and had less problems with turnovers,” Mitchell said.

    Top scorers in the match include Terius Maxie, who posted 20 points as well as banking the double-double, pulling down 12 rebounds; Jakai Miller-Gates with 18 points; and Trey Goodman with 13 points.

    Trinity VS. Woodvillle Video

    Boys Basketball

    Trinity

    Dec. 1 vs. Grapeland, 66-56 loss.

    Nov. 23 vs. Huntington, 51-44 loss.

    Groveton

    Nov. 24 vs. Corrigan-Camden, 34-30 win.

    Apple Springs

    Dec. 4 vs. Richards, 54-40 loss.

    Dec. 1 vs. Zavala, 54-21 loss.

    Nov. 23 vs. Brookeland, 55-27 loss.

    Centerville

    No scores reported

    Girls Basketball

    Trinity

    Dec. 5 vs. Centerville, 53-31 loss.

    Dec. 4 vs. Corrigan-Camden, 56-22 win.

    Nov. 23 vs. Livingston, 49-32 win.

    Groveton

    Dec. 4 vs. Caney Creek, 35-32 win

    Apple Springs

    Dec. 1 vs. Zavala, 46-33 loss.

    Nov. 23 vs. Brookeland, 25-22 loss.

    Centerville

    No scores reported.

  • Trinity girls take 3rd in district

    021121 bkb 4COURTESY PHOTO The Centerville Lady Bulldogs are headed to the playoffs against Zavalla on Thursday.

    TCNS staff

    TRINITY — After a win last week, the Trinity Lady Tigers fell to district rival Onalaska on Saturday to place third in the district.

    Trinity lost in overtime 57-52, even though the Feb. 2 score was a 40-37 win.

    The Lady Tigers next play East Barnard at 6 p.m. Thursday at Waller High School.

    The Tiger boys lost to Tarkington 54-48 on Saturday. Trey Goodman led scorers with 21 points, and Jakai Miller-Gates chipped in 16.

    Trinity was to play New Waverly on Tuesday and Anderson-Shiro on Thursday.

    On Feb. 2, Trinity overpowered Onalaska 67-57.

    021121 bkb 3TONY FARKAS | TCNS Trinity Tiger center Terius Maxie (No. 22) attempts a bucket during a district game against Tarkington on Saturday.

    Apple Springs

    Coach Michael Powell said the Lady Eagles finished district play with a 2-10 record.

    “We beat Kennard twice, but lost to everyone else,” he said.

    The Eagles went 0-10 in district with two games left to play this week.

    Their last game, Feb. 2 vs. Laneville, ended up a 68-20 loss.

    Centerville

    Head Coach Kevin Parker said the Lady Bulldogs will be advancing to the playoffs and will face Zavalla in the Bi-District Round on Thursday in Huntington.

    Boys

    Feb. 5 vs. Kennard, 59-42 loss.

    Girls

    Feb. 5 vs. Kennard, 55-36 win.

    Feb. 3 vs. Neches, 50-19 loss.

    Groveton

    Coach Rogelyn Andrews said the Lady Indians are tied with Leon for fourth place in district.

    Groveton was to play Tuesday in Grapeland, and the winner will move on to play Martin's Mill Friday in Bi-District.