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Mabank, Kemp back in 13-3A again; Eustace drops to 2A and new surroundings
By Kerry Yancey
Monitor Staff Writer

CEDAR CREEK LAKE–As anticipated, both Mabank and Eustace dropped in classification in Monday’s UIL biennual realignment.
Mabank dropped from Class 4A to Class 3A, while Eustace dropped from Class 3A to Class 2A.
Both Mabank and Eustace were at the bottom of their respective class enrollment cutoff numbers – Mabank was four students over the 4A limit and Eustace just two students over the 3A limit – and regularly competed against schools with twice their enrollment.
For Mabank, the realignment puts the Panthers back into very familiar surroundings – a District 13-3A that looks almost exactly like the district the Panthers left on their move up to 4A two years ago.
Kaufman, Crandall, Ferris and Kemp are all back in place – the only difference is that North Forney has moved in to take Eustace’s place.
North Forney is a brand-new school, and next fall will mark the start of the Falcons’ first varsity season in football.
For Eustace, the drop to 2A means very different surroundings, playing teams they have not faced before, with a couple of exceptions.
“I was surprised by the alignment,” Eustace athletic director Doug Wendel said Monday.
Wendel had speculated the Bulldogs might be in a district with teams to the south and east. “It never occurred to me that we would go out west,” he said.
One of the new wrinkles in this year’s realignment is different districts for football and basketball for 2A and smaller schools.
In Eustace’s case, the Bulldog football team will compete in District 6-2A, along with Dallas Life Oak Cliff (who the Bulldogs have played the last couple of years), Grandview, Maypearl, Palmer and Sunnyvale.
“Life Oak knows us a little bit,” Wendel said. “Palmer has gone through at least two coaches since we’ve last played them. Sunnyvale (located just east of Mesquite) is playing their first UIL varsity schedule.”
Wendel confessed he didn’t know anything about Grandview and Maypearl – not even where they are. (Maypearl is located in Ellis County, due south of Midlothian, and Grandview is a little farther west, in Johnson County, on I-35 West between Alvarado and Itasca.)
Dallas Life Oak Cliff’s Lions, Palmer’s Bulldogs, Grandview’s Zebras and Maypearl’s Panthers all come from the former District 15-2A, losing Godley and Rio Vista.
Now, that’s just the football district.
For basketball, the Bulldogs will be in District 14-2A, which includes Blooming Grove, Buffalo, Corsicana Mildred, Jewett Leon, nearby Malakoff and Teague.
“Outside of Malakoff, I don’t know anything about any of them,” Wendel said. “Looking at baseball, I know a number of those teams are very good in baseball.
“We’re as pleased as we can be,” he added. “We’ll have about 65 kids out for football, and everybody else will have about 65 kids, as well.”
Wendel and every other head coach spent most of Monday morning on the telephone, trying to work out football schedules for next fall.
Nobody can sign contracts, locking games in place, until Monday, Feb. 22, but both Wendel and Kemp athletic director Greg Anderson agreed earlier to play in the season opener Zero Week.
“Our non-district is going to be tough, tough, to help us get ready for district,” Wendel said. “I think (the game with Kemp) will help both programs. It’ll give the kids something to look forward to during the dog days of August, and I think that will help both teams.”
At Kemp, Anderson said he anticipated being in a district very similar to the one broken up two years ago. With about 500 students, Kemp is on the low end of the 3A range (430 to 989) and wasn’t expecting to move up or down in the realignment.
“North Forney surprised me,” Anderson said. “I expected us to stay with Wills Point.
“North Forney is a new program, but the coaching staffs at all four of the other schools (Mabank, Kaufman, Crandall and Ferris) are still in place from two years ago,” Anderson noted.
“We knew if Mabank came back down, we would stay with them,” he added. “As for Forney, I think next year will be their first year in varsity play, but they’ll have some athletes. That school probably won’t stay 3A after this first (alignment).”
At Mabank, athletic director Jimmy Cantrell was relieved to be back playing similar-sized schools.
“This gives us a chance,” he said Monday. “Anytime you’re playing schools that have twice as many kids as you have, it presents problems.
“Kaufman, Crandall and North Forney are all about the same size as we are – about 800-900 students – and Ferris, too,” Cantrell noted. “Kemp is around 500. It balances everything out. At least, it’s a lot more balanced than it was.”
Almost all of Mabank’s 4A opponents – Forney, Lancaster, Mesquite Poteet, Red Oak, Terrell and West Mesquite – will be joining Corsicana, Ennis and Waxahachie to form a new District 15-4A, which appears likely to be one of the toughest 4A loops in the state.
Cantrell said the new 13-3A also will be a tough district. “One of the toughest games we played last year was the Kaufman game,” he said.
Plus, the annual Kemp-Mabank grudge match will be a district contest again.
“It won’t be a rainout this year,” Cantrell promised. “It’ll be played – somehow, somewhere.”

Tigers edge Yellowjackets
Monitor Staff Reports
WILLS POINT–A big second quarter proved to be the difference for the Wills Point Tigers Friday night, as they edged the visiting Kemp Yellowjackets 43-33 in a crucial defensive battle.
Winding up the first round of District 14-3A basketball play at 2-3, the Yellowjackets were scheduled to host the Eustace Bulldogs for the second-round opener Tuesday night.
Eustace – who knocked off the ’Jackets, 54-43, in the district opener Jan. 15 – also improved to 2-3 Friday with a buzzer-beating 46-44 win over Canton (see related story).
Friday, Feb. 5, the ’Jackets will travel to Mineola for another key district contest before returning home to face Canton Tuesday, Feb. 9. Both evenings open with 4:30 p.m. sub-varsity contests.
At Wills Point Friday, the ’Jackets opened an 11-9 lead over the Tigers in the first quarter, but the Tigers came back with a 15-6 run in the second quarter to take a seven-point halftime lead, 24-17.
In the third quarter, the ’Jackets cut a single point off the Tiger lead, and in the final frame, the Tigers outscored Kemp 10-9 to forge the final 10-point margin.
Wesley Kerr led the ’Jackets with 14 points, as Jeff Goldman added six points, Ryan Emfinger and Jeremy Quick both had four points, Jake Goldman had three and Zach Allison finished with two points.
Steven Cunigan led the Tigers with 11 points, as Junior Hamilton had eight, Darryn York and Trent Jurica had seven points each, Evann Padilla had six points and Steve Burch had two.

Canton keeps EHS winless
Monitor Staff Reports
EUSTACE–The league-leading Canton Eaglettes remained unbeaten as they kept the hosting Eustace Lady Bulldogs winless in district competition with a 52-30 victory Friday night.
Now 0-7 in District 14-3A basketball play, the Lady Bulldogs were scheduled to visit Kemp for their second-round matchup against the 6-1 Lady Yellowjackets, who knocked off hosting Wills Point 60-41 Friday night (see related story). EHSgirlsVsCanton.jpg (262571 bytes)
Eustace’s girls will host Wills Point Friday, Feb. 5, for “senior night.”
Tuesday, Feb. 9, the Lady Bulldogs will travel to Van for the second-round and regular-season finale. Each evening opens with 4:30 p.m. sub-varsity contests.
The 7-0 Eaglettes made their first appearance on the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches’ poll this week, at No. 25. They chose not to press the Lady Bulldogs during Friday night’s contest, as both teams were content to settle into half-court offensive sets.
The Eaglettes opened a 14-10 lead in the first quarter, and padded their lead out to 10 points, 27-17, by halftime.
Canton took control of the contest with a 16-5 edge in the third quarter, as both teams scored eight points in the fourth period.
“We played well against Canton, except for the third quarter,” Lady Bulldog head coach DaLinda Cassell noted later.
“They are a very good ball team, and have had that tradition,” she added. “They did not press us, and we played well against their man-to-man.
“They got hot in the third quarter, and we went flat,” Cassell said. “I was very pleased with the way that we played throughout the game.”
The Lady Bulldogs had very balanced scoring, as Jenny McConathy led them with eight points, while Allie Cass, Megan Renteria, Catania Grant and Ashlie Phillips all scored five points each, with Harmony Allen adding two points.


Upcoming games

Girls basketball

Feb. 5
MHS @ Mesquite Poteet*
KHS @ Mineola*
EHS vs Wills Point*

Feb. 9
MHS vs Forney*
KHS vs Canton*
EHS @ Van*
(end regular season)
(*District contest)

Boys basketball

Feb. 5
MHS vs Mesquite Poteet*
KHS @ Mineola*
EHS vs Wills Point*

Feb. 9
MHS vs Mesquite Poteet*
KHS vs Canton*
EHS @ Van*

Feb. 12
MHS vs Lancaster*
KHS vs Van*
EHS vs Mineola*


Feb. 5
MHS girls vs Whitehouse*
MHS boys @ Whitehouse*
KHS @ Corsicana
EHS g/b vs Lindale*

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