Spring Hill halts Mabank girls’ playoff run,
By Kerry Yancey
Monitor Staff Writer
TYLER–The long-range sharpshooting of Spring Hill Lady Panther
senior guard Shannon Sanders helped fuel an 18-5 third-quarter
run that knocked the Mabank Lady Panthers out of the state
basketball playoffs Friday night.
Spring Hill captured the area championship with a 70-52 victory
at Tyler Junior College’s Wagstaff Gym, ending Mabank’s season
Spring Hill improved to 27-6 and advanced to a regional
quarterfinals matchup against District 14-3A winner Rains, who
knocked off Mount Vernon, 56-53, in the area round.
Mabank’s problems with point-blank shooting, which bothered them
so much in their bidistrict win over Quinlan Ford Feb. 14,
resurfaced against Spring Hill, as the Lady Panthers got off
shot after shot in close, only to see them bounce away,
particularly in the first half.
Spring Hill, in contrast, turned to pounding the ball inside
after getting a big second-half lead, and were able to convert
point-blank shots in the tightly officiated contest.
Mabank junior Ashton Norman (center) looks for a teammate as she
is trapped by Spring Hill sophomore Savannah Voelzke (21) and
senior Lizzie Autrey (32) during the second half of Mabank's
area basketball loss to Spring Hill Friday.
Sanders, however, proved to be the key for Spring Hill,
hitting 5-of-9 from beyond the arc, including a half-court shot
at the third-quarter buzzer that wowed the crowd and gave the
Lady Panthers a 20-point lead, 50-30, going into the fourth
Mabank also found the going fairly tough against Spring Hill’s
full-court trapping defense.
Sophomore point guard Kourtney Holyfield and junior Ashton
Norman were able to handle the defensive pressure most of the
time, but both of them suffered an occasional turnover when they
were trapped and unable to get a pass off to a teammate, or saw
their pass intercepted.
The first quarter proved to be fairly close, with the teams
tying at 6-all and 11-all, and both defenses playing tough.
Spring Hill started inching ahead, before a sequence that saw
Spring Hill senior Kayla Self score a basket, Mabank suffer a
turnover and Sanders hitting a trey, giving SH an 18-12 lead and
prompting Mabank first-year head coach Ashleigh Weeaks to call
time with 1:33 left.
“We played with a lot of class and a lot of heart,” Weeaks said
later. “But, you have to give a lot of credit to the Longview
Spring Hill program.”
Mabank first-year head coach Ashleigh Weeaks gestures as she
directs her players to another part of the floor during the
second half Friday.
After a SH miss, Mabank senior Sara Springer was fouled on a
drive inside and hit both free throws to cut the margin to four
points at 18-14, but Self added a 3-point basket to give Spring
Hill a 21-14 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The second period proved to be exactly even, as both teams
scored 11 points. After Mabank missed three opportunities in the
paint, Spring Hill scored to make it a nine-point game, 23-14,
and a coast-to-coast run by Sanders made it an 11-point lead at
A Sanders trey gave Spring Hill a 30-16 lead, but Holyfield’s
drive and dish to Cheyenne Alldredge, followed by an Alldredge
free throw, cut the margin back to 11 at 30-19.
Mabank clawed back into the game at the free throw line, hitting
four straight (Alldredge and Norman), before Alldredge forced a
fumble that Olivia Pannell converted at the other end to pull
the Lady Panthers back within seven points, 32-25, at halftime.
Both teams swapped buckets as the fateful third quarter got
underway. Mabank fans were heartened when Sanders picked up her
third foul, but Norman missed both free throws, and the Lady
Panthers missed three shots in the paint on their next
possession before Alldredge picked up her third foul, prompting
a Mabank time-out with 4:06 left.
Holyfield was fouled on a 3-point shot, and hit two of the three
free throws to make it a 14-point game at 43-29, but during the
last minute of the quarter, Spring Hill put together a 5-1 run,
which included Sanders’ electrifying half-court buzzer-beater.
Down by 20, Mabank gamely tried to climb back into the game
after Sanders was injured falling awkwardly on a drive to the
basket (she did not return), but continued to have problems
Mabank had three shots bounce out before Pannell’s put-back made
the score 56-32. Springer hit a 3-point basket and Makenna Allen
converted a 1-and-1 to cut the margin to 21 points, but both
teams knew the game was over at that point.
Playing in her final game as a four-year starter, Springer hit a
second 3-point basket, and Holyfield’s steal and assist to
Norman made it 67-50.
At that point, Spring Hill started running the clock on each
possession. Allen got Mabank’s final basket to make it 69-52
with less than 30 seconds to play, and Spring Hill’s Savannah
Voelzke hit a free throw to end the scoring.
Pannell and Holyfield both scored 10 points to lead Mabank, with
Pannell adding five rebounds and Holyfield adding six assists
and two steals.
Norman finished with nine points, three offensive rebounds and
four assists, while both Springer and Allen finished with eight
points each, with Springer adding three rebounds and a steal,
and Allen adding seven rebounds (four offensive), one assist and
Alldredge finished with seven points, three rebounds and one
Sanders led all scorers with 25 points, with Self adding 10.
Kealey Womack, Voelzke and Lizzie Autrey each scored eight
points, while Jessica Jackson scored five and Leslie Blevins,
Shannon Manley and Courtney Tisdale all added two points each.
Juniors make up most of Mabank’s team – Springer is the only
senior starter – and Weeaks was upbeat about the future after
“We got a taste of what the playoffs feel like, and the girls
and I are very excited about next year,” Weeaks said.
“Coming back from not winning a district game last year to
having a 21-game winning season and two rounds in the playoffs
is a huge accomplishment!” she added. “The girls have worked
hard all season long and have grown from this experience.”
Monitor Photos/Kerry Yancey
AT LEFT: Mabank High School junior Lindsay Mesa keeps her eye on
the ball as she chips onto the green at Cedar Creek Country
Club's Hole No. 17 Monday.