Kemp, Mabank play in Bi-District action
By Erik Walsh
Monitor Staff Writer
Lake-area high school playoff basketball has come to an end in 2014 after the Kemp and Mabank girls varsity basketball teams lost their opening round playoff games Tuesday and Wednesday in Terrell and Kilgore.
While most East Texas high school sports teams faced game cancellation Feb. 11 with the threat of winter storms, The Kemp Lady ’Jackets traveled to Terrell in North Kaufman County to take on No. 13-ranked Winnsboro Lady Raiders.
Kemp got the date to face the high ranking Lady Raiders after losing a second place district tie-breaker match against Scurry-Rosser the previous Friday. Scurry couldn’t make the most out of their more favorable match-up, losing to Edgewood 49-32.
The Lady Raiders (31-4) lived up to their billing as one of Texas’s top 2-A girls basketball teams by getting ahead early against Kemp and never letting up in the eventual 47-21 Kemp loss.
Meanwhile, Mabank was slated to travel east to a neutral site at Tyler Junior College and face the District 16 winner Kilgore Lady Bulldogs. The weather stopped both teams in their tracks and the game was rescheduled the following evening, Feb. 12, in Kilgore. The Lady ’Dogs prevailed on their home court 55-43.
In the Kemp game against Winnsboro, the Lady Raiders got out to an early lead and never surrendered by scoring 11 points in the first quarter while holding Kemp to 6.
Winnsboro built on their lead in the second quarter, scoring 11 points once again, but this time keeping Kemp to only 3 points.
After halftime the Lady ’Jackets couldn’t get anything rolling, scoring 8 points while the Lady Raiders scored 15. With the game out of reach in the fourth quarter, Kemp managed to stay even with Winnsboro, with each team scoring 10 points for the 47-21 final.
Scorers for Kemp included Bri DeGrate with 8 points, Shelby Rodrigues, 6; Bree Weisinger, 5 and Audra Jonas, 2.
While the 3rd-seed Lady Panthers were not facing a top-20 team, they did get a date with a district winner. Kilgore played like one and used their home-court advantage created from the previous night’s storm to claim victory.
In the first quarter Kilgore jumped out to a 13-7 lead before Mabank played them tough in the second quarter scoring 15 points to Kilgore’s 16 to make the game 29-22 at halftime. Kilgore had its best quarter of the game in the third, scoring 14 points while holding Mabank to just 6. The Lady Panthers showed signs of a mounting comeback in the fourth quarter, scoring 15 points to Kilgore’s 12 before losing 55-43.
Leading scorers for Mabank were Carson Marsh with 17 points, Meagan Holyfield, 15; Morgan Edwards, 5; Madison Holyfield, 4 and Jill Odom, 2.
Kemp and Mabank girls head coaches Simon Lopez and Ashleigh Weeaks are both immensely proud of their team’s determination, heart and performance this year.
“I am extremely happy with our team’s performance this year,” Lopez said of his Kemp squad. “We haven’t made the playoffs for the past four years and the girls have thrived in the underdog role. We really felt that the entire community and school was behind us, it was great. Making the playoffs helped get some skeletons out of the closet and tie up some loose ends.”
Weeaks had similar remarks about her Mabank team and their underdog role.
“I am 100 percent proud of this group,” she said. “Their effort against Kilgore was more than I could have asked for. We have been the underdogs all season, and they just kept stepping up to the challenge! They worked their butts off all season long, and came together when it mattered. Once we found our identity, everything came together. I could not have asked for a more enjoyable group of girls to be around. They are so young and talented and I am very excited to see what their future holds for Mabank basketball.
Weeaks added that Mabank is graduating just one senior, Caragan Colwell, and that Colwell “Was a huge asset to this program the last four years. I am extremely proud of her wisdom and leadership.”