Log in

Top Stories        News         Sports

Polk County Sports

A night to shine

Write a comment
Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

best buddies night 149

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

Softball season is here and the Livingston Lady Lions have challenged a few larger schools on the schedule. However, it is what they are doing off the field or before the game Tuesday that may be more important

“Athletically, we aren’t necessarily a part of the Best Buddies program,” Livingston softball coach Heather Mosser said. “It is a program that pairs students with students that have special needs. Those students sign up to be a part of that program, but I have quite a few athletes that participate.”

Each month, the Best Buddies hold an event that include things like bowling, fun runs, or – like Tuesday – a softball game.

“On every Friday, we do what I call our ‘Best Day,’” Mosser explained. “We bring our students with special needs into our athletic period and they work out with us. They do a warmup with us, actual exercises and trainings with us, and we put them through some body-weight movements or calisthenics, some exercising or jogging. We end with an activity or game. Today (Friday) is kind of a light day, but we are bowling, and I have six lanes in the gym. How that leads into our event is we invite them to come to our game. I did it for volleyball (where Mosser is also the head coach) and I did it for softball last year, and it was a big deal. I knew this one was going to be an even bigger deal. I actually invited the Polk County Go-Getters as well, because I just recently directed their Special Olympics tournament at the junior high.”

A total of 17 Best Buddies and Go-Getters were in attendance Tuesday, participating in pregame activities.

Some of the more experienced students take a Buddy in the program, while beginners can be part of a group that works with special-needs students without taking as much responsibility.

“Because we work with them so closely throughout the year, we develop great relationships with these kids,” the coach said. “We see them in the halls, and they run up and hug us. They are a part of us. It is starting to shed light on a group where there is a great need in our community. The more we do with them, the Buddy group itself is growing. They are trying to stay with a schedule of having an event every month.”

Amy Cherry is an occupational therapist at LISD over the program. She said the number of events has been consistent over the past three years since the Livingston High School chapter of Best Buddies has been in existence. However, student participation has increased significantly.

“We have over 100 active student members and host monthly activities or functions to give our members opportunities to know each other better and strengthen their friendships,” Cherry said. “This year we have hosted a Back to Best Buddies mixer, our annual Match Party (where members find out who their Buddies are), Go-Getters scrimmage, Friendsgiving, and a bowling night. Other school organizations have also hosted joint events. Student Council has hosted dances for both homecoming and Valentine’s Day. The Lady Lions have hosted nights for Best Buddies at a volleyball game and a softball game.”

There are several events planned for the remainder of the year, including the annual Color Run, which will take place Saturday, April 13. Registration for the event will begin March 18 and they are hoping for continued community support and attendance.

“Every day brings a new smile and every day is a new adventure with them,” Mosser said. “There is so much joy and pure positivity, because these kids are working with students in a different way and treating them as their peers. It is just a cool mesh for what they can do for us, but also what we can do for them.

“It gives them their moment. It is their night to shine. We all get our moment on stage, our platform, or our game we play. I just want to provide their platform for them as well. At lunch, there are waves and hugs and hollers. You see them and know them by name, and it is fun to have that interaction.”

Mosser said she has had coaches reach out to her, including the Kingwood Park coach, who was Tuesday’s opposition on the field.

“She was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I am stealing this idea from you.’ I said, ‘You don’t have to steal it, take it and run with it and do it. It is such a great thing.’

“It is bringing light to an area that we need to share with the world. We need more of this in a world filled with so much hate. This is just a moment of joy that everyone should be a part of.”  n

  • Hits: 330

Final comeback attempt falls short

Write a comment
Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Nicholas Ortiz shoots for three.Nicholas Ortiz shoots for three.

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

The 2023-24 season came to an end Tuesday in Madisonville for Big Sandy basketball, dropping the regional quarterfinal playoff contest to Thrall 62-58.

After a nervous start from both teams, both showed an ability to put the ball in the hoop consistently in the first quarter. Big Sandy gave up a few inches in height, and Thrall took advantage by winning the rebounding battle.

“First of all, I thought that Thrall played great,” Big Sandy coach Kevin Foster said. “They made more shots than we did and we couldn’t get stops and rebounds throughout the game. We turned the ball over some in the first half. It comes down to making shots and they out-shot us. For the most part they out-rebounded us tonight. I was proud of the kids the way we battled back, but it just seems like we never could catch a break or get any momentum. They were just a little better than us tonight. I credit their defense too. They really made Javen (Criswell) work for everything. He had some threes late when I moved him to the three spot, where he was able to get some clean looks.”

A full-court press in the second quarter gave Big Sandy more trouble than they wanted to handle. Turnovers began and so did the gap on the scoreboard. Thrall led by as much as 15 in the period, but the ‘Cats slimmed that to a 36-26 mark at the half. There was a lot of work to do, but they withstood the Tigers’ best shot through a two quarters. Thrall missed very little from long range, connecting on six 3-pointers. It would have been difficult to continue that hot start.

“We knew going in that was something they did,” Foster said of the press. “Usually, they are a half-court team, but I thought we were careless. Instead of attacking them and getting by them, we had a few lazy passes and just kind of nonchalant with the ball. We talked about it at halftime, and we really only gave up three offensive rebounds in the first half, but every time we did it led to six points for them. I know on our turnovers that it led to at least four points for them, so that was our deficit right there. It wasn’t one thing during this game.”

Thrall’s offense kept Big Sandy from going on any kind of run in the third. Needing to cut into the lead, the Wildcats could not get consecutive baskets, and the Tiger offense showed an ability to score from all over the court.

Down by double digits with just a few minutes remaining, Big Sandy began a furious comeback. Challenging every pass in every dribble, the Wildcats got turnovers and the buckets they needed to bring it within one, but that would be as close as they would get.

“We had the momentum there at the end, we just needed a little bit more time I think,” the coach said. “The only thing we really did different was go full-court man. We got turnover after turnover, but too many times, we weren’t able to capitalize on them. We had just said in the time out that if we score (when the game was a one-point difference), we are getting back. We didn’t transition defense good enough and (Thrall’s Payton Gillmore) slipped back. That is on all of us, really. We knew that he liked to leak out a lot. I think after that shot, he was already leaking out. That is just one play of many throughout the course of the game.”

For Thrall, Gillmore led with 19 points, Dawson Meiske had 16 and Breken Proctor 11. Big Sandy’s Tavian Battise was the top scorer with 22, Criswell had 15 and Nick Ortiz 12.

The Wildcats will have a much different look in the 2024-25 season. Seniors graduating this year include Ortiz, Battise, Jackson Trevino and Criswell.

“You look at accomplishments and some of those guys were on our regional semifinal team their freshman year,” Foster said of his seniors. “There were three years in the regional quarterfinals. A lot of kids would love to have that just one year. We are so fortunate and blessed how we have been able to have those kind of teams and make these kind of runs. It hurts when it ends. I told the kids that it should hurt, that means that it means something to you. The kids were upset, but I told them that the thing I will remember about this group is that it kind of looked like it was over for us. We battled back like we have all year. We didn’t win it and I know it hurts, but we can look back and say that we had a chance to make a game out of it.”

  • Hits: 233

Lion Golf

Write a comment
Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Collecting more tournament championships, Livingston golf took first place at Hardin-Jefferson. First overall was Brayden Akers, second overall was Brandon Munson, and Jack New brought home third. The varsity squad includes (l-r) Akers, Munson, Drew Davidson, New and Carson Pipes.Collecting more tournament championships, Livingston golf took first place at Hardin-Jefferson. First overall was Brayden Akers, second overall was Brandon Munson, and Jack New brought home third. The varsity squad includes (l-r) Akers, Munson, Drew Davidson, New and Carson Pipes.

Colecting more tournament championships, Livingston golf took first place at Hardin-Jefferson. First overall was Brayden Akers, second overall was Brandon Munson, and Jack New brought home third. The varsity squad includes (l-r) Akers, Munson, Drew Davidson, New and Carson Pipes.

  • Hits: 143

District alignments challenged

Write a comment
Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Realignment STOCK

The District Assignment Appeals Committee of the University Interscholastic League heard 11 appeals regarding reclassification and realignment Tuesday. The committee, composed of UIL Legislative Council members, heard testimony from all interested parties regarding each appeal.

 The committee granted appeals from Lufkin (Football) to move from District 5A D1 – 7 to District 5A D1 – 9, Angleton (Football) to move from District 5A D1 – 9 to District 5A D1 – 11, and Houston Spring Woods (Football) to move from District 5A D1 – 11 to District 5A D1 – 10.

 The District Assignment Appeals Committee voted to deny appeals from Victoria West (Football), San Antonio Harlandale & San Antonio McCollum (Football), Smithville (Football), Sealy (Basketball/Volleyball), El Maton Tidehaven (Basketball/Volleyball), McLeod (Basketball), Fruitvale (Basketball), and Brownsville Jubilee (Basketball/Volleyball).

  • Hits: 168

Wildcat baseball starts season 1-0

Write a comment
Star InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar InactiveStar Inactive

Baseball STOCK

By Clay Lilley

The Onalaska Wildcats kicked off their 2024 baseball season on the road against the Anahuac Panthers Monday night, surviving the Panthers 10-9 in extra innings.

Anahuac took the lead in the first inning, scoring three unearned runs off Onalaska starting pitcher, Jarrett Purkerson. Purkerson pitched well, allowing just two hits while striking out five. Both teams scored in the second inning, giving the Panthers a 4-1 advantage.

The Onalaska bats came alive in the fifth, scoring six runs off Anahuac’s starting pitcher. Thad Lilley produced two RBIs on a bases-loaded double and Alex Batiste drove in two more on a line drive to right field. 

Anahuac scored three more runs in the bottom of the fifth and another in the sixth inning to take a one-run lead, 8-7.

Batiste led off the top of the seventh inning in spectacular fashion, swatting his first home run of the season, a bomb high off the foul pole in left. Conner Ruiz added a clutch RBI-single, puting Onalaska up 9-8. 

In the bottom of the seventh with the bases loaded, one out, and the game tied 9-9, the Wildcats turned a timely 5-2-3 double play to send the game into extra innings.

In the top of the eighth with two outs and Wyatt Reyes in scoring position, Onalaska senior, Lucas Jackson stepped up with the game-winning RBI on a single to left-center, putting the Wildcats ahead by a run. 

Lilley, Onalaska’s closer, finished the game on the mound, securing the 10-9 win. Head coach Cody Pinkert was happy with team.  

“They came together as a group and competed their tails off to get an early win against a solid Anahuac team,” Pinkert said. 

Some of the top performances of the game invluded Batiste going 2-4 with a homer , two runs, and three RBIs. Patrick Roth pitched three innings with four strikeouts and one walk in his first high school game. Reyes reached base on four walks and scored two runs. Purkerson pitched three innings with no earned runs, five strikeouts and two hits.

The next Wildcat game will be a tough matchup against last year’s regional semifinalists, Tuesday at the Diboll Lumberjacks. 

  • Hits: 293