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Panthers claw Tigers in opener
Monitor Staff Reports
MABANK–In their District 15-4A basketball opener Tuesday, Mabank’s Panthers used a second-quarter surge to ease past the visiting Terrell Tigers, 70-64.
Now 13-5 and 1-0 in district play, the Panthers were scheduled to visit Red Oak Friday. The Tigers fell to 1-1 in district play.
Monday, Jan. 12, the Panthers will host the Mesquite Poteet Pirates, with a 6 p.m. sub-varsity contest opening the evening’s slate.
Next Friday, Jan. 16, Mabank will travel to Forney for a key matchup against the Jackrabbits, again opening at 6 p.m.
Before a partisan crowd Tuesday, the Panthers’ shooting touch took a while to warm up, allowing the Tigers to take a 13-9 lead.
In the second quarter, however, the Panthers began clamping down on defense and started dominating the defensive boards, allowing the Tigers just one shot per possession.
At the same time, the Panthers began working inside for their shots, and the result was a 20-11 run that gave Mabank a 29-24 halftime lead.
Kolton Browning had six points and Griffin Marshall six (including a 3-point basket) during the run, and Tray Phillips added four points.
In the second half, the Panthers turned to Browning, who scored 26 of his game-high 35 points after the intermission.
Marshall also started driving inside, and made the Tigers pay for putting him at the free throw line, hitting 6-of-8 from the charity stripe.
Browning and Marshall combined for 19 of Mabank’s 22 points in the third quarter, which gave the Panthers a nine-point lead, 51-42, going into the fourth quarter.
Browning and Marshall scored 15 of Mabank’s 19 points in the fourth quarter to help keep the Tigers at bay.
In addition to Browning’s 35 points, Marshall finished with 14, hitting 7-of-9 from the free throw line.
Tyler Fisher, who was forced to the bench early after picking up two quick fouls, finished with eight points, with Micky Pycha adding six points, Phillips four and Trevor Peele two, while Cameron Tucker added a free throw.
Jherrod Stiggers hit four treys to lead the Tigers with 20 points, while Justin James had 15 and J’Lil Herndon 10.

’Jackets seeking playoffs this year
By Kerry Yancey
Monitor Staff Writer

KEMP–Five starters and two men off the bench is a lot of experience coming back, and Kemp High School Yellowjackets basketball fans are hoping experience will translate into success in a new district.
The ’Jackets didn’t have much success under first-year head coach Terrance McCloud last year, garnering just two district wins, both of them one-point squeakers over winless Eustace.
Kemp will open District 14-3A basketball play at home against Eustace Friday, Jan. 16.
Everybody is back from last year’s squad, which should help, even though the ’Jackets got a late start because the football team advanced to the area round of the playoffs.
“We’re still about two weeks behind, I think, since they all played football,” McCloud said. “But, they got a taste of winning and being in the playoffs, and I’m hoping that carries over into basketball.”
Now entering his 12th year of coaching, McCloud said rebounding and defense will be the focus for his team.
“That’s probably our bread and butter, trying to keep other people from scoring,” he said.
Heading the list of returnees are senior forward James Trim and junior guard Wesley Kerr.
“Wesley and Trim are probably the heart of the team,” McCloud said. “They have that experience, and know what we’re trying to accomplish, and what I want to have on the floor.”
Also returning are junior post Terrence Sistrunk and senior post Ethan Dunagan, who both provide size and strength inside, and sophomore wing Ryan Emfinger, who started as a freshman last year.
Senior guard Joseph Weeks moved back and forth from the junior varsity to the varsity last year, while junior guard Jeremy Quick also moved up to the varsity’s starting rotation last year.
Newcomers include senior Chaz White, Masin Palmer and brothers Jeff Goldman and Jake Goldman.
“(White) has been our leading scorer in several games this year,” McCloud said. “He brings a little size, a little muscle and a little attitude that we need.
“(Sophomore) Jeff Goldman has done a pretty good job for us,” McCloud added. “He’s one of our better jump-shooters.
“They’ve really surprised me with how much they’ve been able to contribute,” McCloud said. “It’s a big jump from the freshman team to the varsity, and Chaz not playing at all last year, so they’re trying to learn it all on the run, because we’ve been playing about as much as we’ve been practicing.”
Looking forward to district play, McCloud said he expected the district basketball race to mirror the football race.
“Van is always going to be solid,” he said. “They’ve got a program in place, so they’ll always be pretty good.
“Wills Point is probably going to have one of the best players in the district (Steven Cunigan), and both Canton and Eustace are going to be pretty competitive,” he said. “I haven’t seen or heard anything about Mineola.
“I feel it will be a pretty competitive district,” he added. “If we can come together as a team, and if we can defend well, we should be in the thick of it.”

Inexperienced Bulldogs looking for consistency
By Kerry Yancey
Monitor Staff Writer

EUSTACE–Second-year Eustace High School coach Chad Martinez started building a program from scratch last year, but he has little to show for it coming back this year.
Martinez, now in his seventh year of coaching, thought he would have five returning players, but one decided not to play and one turned out to be ineligible.
Only one of the three returnees was a starter last year – senior multi-sport standout Zach Keeling. He is joined by two other seniors, Johnny Lee and David Key, both of whom saw considerable playing time last year.
“We are a little more athletic, but we’re fighting inconsistency,” Martinez said. “We’ll look great for stretches, and then we’ll look bad for stretches.
“It’s in every game, too,” he added. “We’re both hot and cold in the same game. You never know what will happen.”
As an example, Martinez noted a game in the Scurry-Rosser tournament, where the Bulldogs opened with a 9-0 run, but then stalled and were outscored 18-10 in the second quarter.
“In the second half, we played pretty much even with them,” Martinez said. “We just have to learn to limit those stretches.
“Five of our losses we should have won, if not for two or three plays,” he added, noting four of the Bulldogs’ eight losses were by a total of 15 points.
Joining the returnees are four seniors, Brett Miner, Austin Byrne, Zach Sutton and Brandon Beggs, along with four juniors, Trevan Johnson, Marcus Emmons, Guy Hargrove and Blake Hammonds, plus sophomore Addison Scott.
“I have a lot of seniors, so you can’t say we have youth, but there’s not a lot of experience playing at that (varsity) level,” Martinez said. “We’ve got a little more team speed, and we’ve been able to put pressure on people, but not consistently.”
The key will be for the Bulldogs to learn to limit the mistake-filled stretches to two or three possessions, without requiring Martinez to call a time out to help the players to regain their focus.
Eustace opens District 14-3A basketball play on the road against Kemp Friday, Jan. 16.
Martinez said the 14-3A favorites should be the usual suspects – Van and Wills Point.
“Van graduated a lot, but they have a strong program and tradition, so they’ll be solid,” he said. “Wills Point will be athletic.”
Canton was hit hard by graduation, he added, “and Kemp is about the same as us.”
In fact, both Eustace-Kemp district games last year were decided by a total of two points in favor of Kemp – their only district wins.
Martinez said he didn’t know much about Mineola, but would expect them to be fairly athletic.
“Our big if is consistency,” he said. “If we can be consistent, I think we will be able to compete. For stretches of three, four, five minutes, we can play with anybody.
“I know mistakes will happen,” he added. “We just want to limit the number of mistakes.”
Early on, the Bulldogs were averaging about 29 turnovers a game, but about 10 games in, they’ve been able to cut that number in half, to about 10 or 15, “and we’ve been in those games,” he said.
“It’s not like they’re not trying to do what you ask,” he added. “They’re trying so hard to what they’re supposed to do, that they’re losing focus on playing the game. That’s just inexperience.
“We’ve got about a month to fix that,” Martinez said. “We’re taking some steps, but we’re not taking as big a step as I want.”


Upcoming games

Girls Basketball

Jan. 12
MHS @ Mesquite Poteet*

Jan. 13
KHS @ Wills Point*
EHS vs Canton*

Jan 16
MHS vs Forney*

Jan. 20
MHS @ Lancaster*
KHS @ Mineola*
EHS vs Wills Point*
*district contest

Boys Basketball

Jan. 12
MHS vs Mesquite Poteet*

Jan. 16
MHS vs Forney*

Jan. 20
MHS vs Lancaster*
KHS @ Mineola*
EHS vs Wills Point*
*district contest


Jan. 13
MHS g @ Ennis
MHS b vs Corsicana
EHS b/g vs Palestine

Jan. 15-17
EHS b @ Kennedale tourn.

Jan. 16
MHS b @ Ferris
MHS g vs Mt. Pleasant

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