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Gearing up for second season

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Eli Bullock led all scores with 23 points.Eli Bullock led all scores with 23 points.

By Brian Besch
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The Big Sandy Wildcats are one step closer to beginning their playoff run after a 66-30 win over Brookeland Friday night in Dallardsville.

The District 24-2A champions began the game a bit slow on offense after starting with an 8-0 run, but turned it around quickly by the end of the first quarter.

The defense has been the Wildcats’ strength the past few years, and Friday was no different. They held Brookeland to five points in the opening period, seven in te second, and six in the fourth. Both a 2-3 zone and half-court trap stymied the opposing Wildcats. The Big Sandy offense generated outputs of 18, 17 and 19 points over the final three frames.

Eli Bullock was the team’s high point with 23, Adrian Thompson had 17 points and Kaden Foster had nine.

“I was afraid of being a little bit flat because we clinched the district on Tuesday, which is a good thing, and really the kids played well,” Big Sandy coach Kevin Foster said. “I thought we were a little sluggish tonight and just a little slow to everything. I think our main focus right now is just to try to get as healthy as we can going into playoffs at this point.”

Post Seth Beene-Williams has been battling injury and did not play in the game. A few have been out with illness. Next week would be a good time for the team to rest up and ready themselves for the postseason versus Martinsville, the fourth-place school out of District 23-2A. As a score comparison, Martinsville beat district foe Broaddus by seven points in November.

“In playoff time, with one bad game you are out and it doesn’t matter first round or second round,” Foster said. “We always tell the kids you can’t have a bad game once you get there. You take them all serious and you have to prepare for every one of them. You can’t compare scores, because basketball is a game of matchups. For some reason, sometimes that first round can be one of the more difficult ones to get.” 

Barring a major upset, the team will finish off district undefeated when it travels to Colmesneil Monday, just as the Lady Wildcats accomplished Tuesday of this week. In the first round of district, the Wildcats defeated Colmesneil 89-19.

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New Districts Announced

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UIL realignment brings big changes for a few Polk County schools

By Brian Besch

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It’s like Christmas morning every two years for high school coaches across the state of Texas. Coaches these days rush to the keyboard to find if they will be happy with what is under the tree.

The University Interscholastic League released its district realignments Thursday at 9 a.m. for the next two years of fall sports.

In Polk County, two schools have completely new surroundings, while the other four will have just a few changes.

There are now two Class 2A schools in the county, and both will need to adjust to a new home.

After years of being the small fish in a big pond, the opposite will now be true for Corrigan-Camden. The Bulldog athletic teams will find themselves with the enrollment advantage in many of the district games they play after dropping from Class 3A to 2A.

“It was a fun day and it is always exciting,” Corrigan-Camden athletic director Brett Ratliff said. “We opened up the present and we didn’t get coal. We were excited no matter what, going down a classification. I think it gives us an opportunity to compete at a high level in all of our sports, based on our size. 

“We had some thoughts on where we might go from a football perspective, and to be honest, in volleyball and basketball we could have gone anywhere. I really didn’t know at all. When it came out, we were very pleased. It is going to be a highly competitive district in every sport. They are definitely districts that we feel really good about going into and getting some new teams and some fresh blood in there and changing some things up.”

The old pigskin destinations of Newton, Kountze, New Waverly Hemphill, Warren and Anderson-Shiro were a bit closer than the miles the team will now travel. New district foes in football include Normangee, Jewett Leon, Centerville, West Hardin and longtime rival Groveton. 

“We are going to have to travel, but at the same time, that doesn’t bother us really,” Ratliff said. “Especially with this group that I have coming up. We are trying to get it in our minds that it doesn’t matter how far we have to go, we just have to compete as hard as we can.”

The coach is excited about the chance to renew the Bulldogs’ series with Groveton.

redistricting 01“One of the things that I highlighted (upon returning to Corrigan) is that I wanted to get that rivalry back. I want to generate that excitement between the two communities that are so close together. It has been such a good rivalry for so long. Realignment kind of did that for us. Because of the plywood mill that we have in town, there are so many people from Groveton that work there as well, so they always get fired up about it. In the ‘80s, Groveton had such a good run and then we had a great run of our own for a couple of years there with a state title. In the ‘90s, it was the same thing. There was a significant amount of years where Groveton was kicking the crap out of Corrigan, but then we went on a streak from 1997 until it ended. I think the coaches at the time wanted to stop it, because I don’t think the communities did. Most years, it was very competitive.”

In basketball, the travel is a bit better, playing schools that include Broaddus, Chireno, San Augustine, West Sabine, Woden and Colmesneil.

Colmesneil, Grapeland, Groveton, Latexo and Lovelady will be league opponents for the Lady Dogs in volleyball.

“I think it helps basketball and volleyball tremendously. In volleyball, every year we are getting second in district and Central Heights always gets us at the end. I think we will compete for a district title in volleyball and try to make a significant run. In basketball, I think we are going to be right there amongst the top in the district. San Augustine is going to be there and Woden is very good. I think with the kids that we will have returning and the schedule that we have played the past few years, we will be battle-tested and that will give us some real growth there. We have made some steps, but hopefully, that allows us to kick the door in.”

For Big Sandy, their new district will be like going back in time. It wasn’t too long ago that the Wildcats shared a district with many in the new 25-2A. Hull-Daisetta, Evadale, Deweyville, West Hardin and Sabine Pass will now compete with Big Sandy in hoops. There is also a familiarity from recent non-district games. They leave a group of Broaddus, Brookeland, Colmesneil, Spurger and West Sabine. 

redistricting 02“I think we are happy for the travel, because we have always said that this district makes the most sense,” Big Sandy athletic director Kevin Foster said. “We have three schools within 45 minutes of us, which for small schools, that is pretty close to have that many. It is a different region too. It is funny, because we have been in this district before and it is always on that borderline between (Region) 3 and 4. It just so happens that the next two years it is going to be in Region 4. I was just thinking today that it has been about 10 years since we have been in Region 4. I think in my time at Big Sandy, we have been in there two different times.”

The difference in regions could be a large factor once the playoffs begin, as Region 3 is often the strongest no matter the classification.

“There are good teams in Region 4, and in Region 3 there are just so many good teams. (Region 3) is a gauntlet, it really is once you make the playoffs in basketball.”

Livingston will have only one change in volleyball and basketball, losing Shepherd, as the Pirates drop to Class 3A.

Onalaska will lose a powerful Hardin volleyball team, while picking up Shepherd from Class 4A and Crockett. The same changes occur on the hardwood, making 23-3A one of the toughest basketball districts around. 

On the 1A level, Goodrich and Leggett will lose state-ranked Chireno from basketball, replacing them with Brookeland. Chireno moves up to 2A, while Brookeland drops from the higher classification.

In volleyball, the UIL has created districts exclusively for Class 1A, after sharing with 2A schools for years. Goodrich will now compete versus Burkeville, Chester, High Island and Spurger. 

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Goodrich making stretch run

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Tamera Henderson scored five points for the Lady Pirates.Tamera Henderson scored five points for the Lady Pirates.By Brian Besch

The Goodrich Lady Hornets kept their playoff hopes alive Tuesday by defeating Polk County foe Leggett 55-35.

The Lady Hornets seemed to have the game under control, securing a first-half lead of 31-14.  However, the Lady Pirates employed a full-court press in the third quarter that forced turnovers and got the team easy buckets. Heading into the fourth quarter, they had trimmed the Goodrich lead to 40-30.

“It was kind of scrappy tonight,” Goodrich coach Pinellafie Johnson said. “We just didn’t play the way that we practice. We got the job done, yes, true enough. We tried running our 1-3-1 (zone defense) and had those girls been hot shooting from the inside, they would have made us get out of it really quick. I told them that we were going to run our 1-3-1 just to keep them from shooting threes. When we got in our 2-3, I told them that they definitely have to move their feet on that, because they are going to throw it up and it is going to go in.

When we went to the 2-3, that is what happened. We refused to move our feet on defense. We did what we had to do and we got the job taken care of.”

Goodrich did most of their damage from inside a 10-foot perimeter, with jumpers and layups.

“We have been working on a lot of shots in the paint and right around the paint area,” Johnson said. “We told them that we really don’t have an outside game, so we have to do our best to score within that paint. They did a good job on the boards.”

Goodrich had an answer in the fourth, extending their lead to a 20-point difference for the win. Leggett struggled on offense with just five points over the final eight minutes.

“There was too many turnovers in the first half,” Leggett coach Terri Barlow said. “We came out in the third quarter and had a great quarter and cut it to 10. When I looked up again, we lost by 20. We started throwing the ball away again and put them at the free-throw line.

“We got outrebounded because we don’t want to box out and put a body on anybody. It is a good feeling to have everybody back next year, except for my senior (Addison Hinson). I will give them a week off and then we will start on offseason and track.”

For Goodrich, Breya Passmore and Latrina Morgan had 18 points each, while Marisa Olivares had 13. Lone Leggett senior Hinson led the Lady Pirates in scoring with 13 in her final home game, while Kylie Valderez had nine and Tamera Henderson had five.

The Leggett girls will travel to Chester to wrap up the season. Goodrich has a Friday home game with Chireno next and will then travel to High Island. The Lady Hornets are currently in fourth place and fighting to hold on to a postseason bid.

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Leggett continues winning streak versus Goodrich

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Joh'Vonn Scott had 10 points for the Pirates in Tuesday's win. Joh'Vonn Scott had 10 points for the Pirates in Tuesday's win. By Brian Besch

Leggett ran out to a big start, placing little doubt in Tuesday’s outcome with rival Goodrich in Dudley Dickens Gymnasium. The Pirates would coast to a 79-26 victory.

A 19-0 lead was established midway through the first period, and Leggett held a similar margin for most of the match. Goodrich was much more competitive in the second and third quarters.

However, leading Hornet scorer A’Mareion Bookman fouled out early in the fourth quarter, leaving just four Goodrich players on the floor.

Leggett would outscore the Hornets 23-4 in the last eight minutes of play.

“We have to become better ball handlers and defenders,” Goodrich coach Lester King said. “Our basketball I.Q. isn't very good. I told them that it took them the whole eight minutes to get a good shot. That first quarter killed us. It wasn't like they were stopping us from getting to the rim. We were getting there and just throwing it up. We just have to work harder. 

"Burkeville beat Leggett the other night and they are a bunch of little freshmen just like us with some sophomores. Nobody is a dominant team, but Chireno. The rest of us can beat anybody on any given night, except when you don't play defense like we do. Hopefully, it will come around.”

Leggett coach Ra’Shod Jefferson wasn’t particularly pleased with his team’s performance either.

“We didn't play up to our capability on defense,” the Pirate coach said. “We were slacking and giving up easy buckets and second-chance shots. We weren't really boxing out this game. I didn't see the defense I saw in the first game (versus Goodrich). They weren't focused. We played without one of our starters, but I told them that everybody isn't going to be at every game.”

Jacolby Sells led all scores with 42 points, while Joh’vonn Scott had 10 and Jessee Calderas had eight. Goodrich was led by Bookman with 11 points, John Mendoza had six and Tilde Guzman had four.

Jefferson said his team his in a two-way tie with Zavalla, with everyone behind Chireno. The Pirates will become Burkeville fans when they play Zavalla, hoping that they can break the tie for second place. However, Leggett needs to take care of the rest of its games to be in that situation, including a win over the first-place team. 

The Pirates travel to Chester Friday, then to Chireno, and finish the regular season at home with High Island.

Goodrich will have a tough schedule the rest of the way, closing with Chireno, Zavalla and Burkeville.

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