Sports and Outdoors


Mabank edges Canton, 67-54        
Monitor Staff Reports
MABANK–Mabank’s Panthers used a small edge in quickness and a strong fourth-quarter push to get past the visiting Canton Eagles Tuesday, 67-54.
The Panthers were scheduled to open play in the annual Wagstaff Holiday Classic basketball tournament at Tyler Junior College against the Chapel Hill Bulldogs at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 27.
A second-day game will pit the Panthers against the Troup Tigers, also at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 28. Those two games will determine the Panthers’ placement in pool competition Friday and Saturday, Dec. 29-30.
After a break, the Panthers will wrap up non-district play at home against the Brownsboro Bears Tuesday, Jan. 9, with a 4:30 p.m. freshman contest opening a three-game slate.
Mabank will begin District 13-3A play at home against the Kaufman Lions Friday, Jan. 12, again opening with a 4:30 p.m. freshman game.
Against the visiting Eagles Tuesday, the Panthers opened a 16-10 lead behind 3-point baskets from both Wayland Pharms and Kolton Browning, but the Eagles came back to cut the Panther lead to four points by halftime, 25-21.
In the third quarter, the Panthers’ up-tempo style helped fuel a 19-15 scoring edge, putting Mabank up by eight points, 44-36, as the fourth quarter opened.
Panther Haydon Blair scored 11 of his team-high 19 points in the fourth quarter, including 5-of-9 free-throw attempts, to help hold off any potential Eagle comeback.
The Panthers didn’t do all that well from the charity stripe, hitting just 13-of-26 attempts (50 percent), but the Eagles didn’t do any better, hitting just 7-of-14 attempts.
Pharms finished with 14 points (including a trio of 3-point baskets), while Browning ended with 13 points and Barry Prather finished with 10 points.
Jarred Batson had nine points, and both L.T. Toliver and David Parry chipped in free throws.
Keavon Milton led the Eagles, scoring 12 of his 19 points in the second half, while Leroy Johnson had 10 points.
Sam Buker finished with nine points (including one 3-point basket), while both Travis Termin and Alex Furr (two treys) had six points each. Grant Franklin added four points.
Mabank dominated the sub-varsity games, as the Panthers won the junior varsity contest 60-32 and the freshman game 46-27.

Monitor Photo/Kerry Yancey
Mabank Panthers L.T. Toliver (12) and Barry Prather (42) come up to trap Canton Eagle Sam Buker (4) during the first half of Mabank’s 67-54 victory over the visiting Eagles Tuesday.

Outdoor holiday getaways
By Luke Clayton
Special to The Monitor

The holiday season is a time when many of us plan hunting and fishing trips. Work schedules are often a bit more flexible this time of year, youngsters are out for school for a couple weeks, and there’s still lots of activities, both hunting and fishing, to lure us outside.
Each week, I visit with no less than 50 guides, outfitters and others who make their living in the outdoors. Thus, I stay pretty well attuned to what’s happening and where it’s happening.
Here’s my “picks” of outdoor outings. Your’s might vary a bit, but I bet some of these activities will be right up your alley.
Remember, you can contact me at if I can help point you in the right direction to one of these activities. If you haven’t found that special gift for the sportsman or sportswoman in your life, a hunt or guided fishing trip might just be the perfect gift.
A guided fishing trip. Stripers are going wild at several lakes, but I don’t know a place where fishing for these linesides is any more dependable that at Lake Texoma, situated up on the Texas-Oklahoma border, about 90 minutes north of Dallas.
My guide contacts here say regular limits has been the norm, with the “top end” size of stripers in the 12-15 pound range.
Some of the guide operations offer free lodging with the guide trips. Most guides offer live bait trips where fishing is very easy. No casting is required – the baits are simply dropped straight down over the side of the boat.
Most guides also offer “lure” trips for the more experienced angler. Shad imitation soft plastics on a light jig head, fished is shallow water during early morning, are accounting for some of the larger stripers, but for non-stop action, it’s tough to beat live shad.
Trophy blue catfish are biting well at several lakes. My pick for catching several fish weighing more than 20 pounds is definitely Lake Tawakoni.
Here daily catches often exceed 200 pounds, with fish up to 30 pounds common.
At the present, a low water has closed all but two ramps here, one at the State Park and one at Anchor Inn Marina.
Anglers fishing from the shore are also doing very well on a mixed stringer of blue and channel catfish. Drift fishing with fresh cut bait is the most productive method of catching big blues this time of year.
For non-stop action on white and yellow bass, I recommend Lake Caddo. Each year in late fall, the Cypress River channel becomes packed with good-eating yellow bass (there is no limit) and big white bass.
My buddy, guide Billy Carter, first introduced me to catching and eating the yellow bass, nicknamed “barfish.”
Using small pieces of cut minnow, it’s very common to catch 200 or more of these tasty fish in one outing. Billy and his wife Dottie also offer lodging in one of their comfortable lake houses at very reasonable rates.
Late season deer hunts. Deer season continues almost through the end of February on ranches that are under a Texas Parks & Wildlife Department-managed lands permit.
These ranches make an agreement with the state to remove a pre-determined number of does and bucks. Hunters taking deer on these ranches need not use a tag from their hunting license. The deer are tagged with a special tag provided to the ranch owners.
Hog hunting is currently in full swing. Most of the acorns are gone, and hogs are having to stay on the move looking for food.
Many ranches provide hog hunts at a very reasonable price. For the money, it’s hard to beat a hunt for wild hogs.
Whether one’s goal is a trophy boar to mount for the den wall, or a “good eating” smaller hog for the barbecue, a hog hunt is high on my list this month.
Quail hunting. Wild quail numbers are down this year, but if you have access to a good quail lease in south or west Texas, there’s still enough birds to challenge your shooting skills.
A more viable option for many of us is a day quail hunt on a good shooting preserve. Preserves are stocked regularly with birds, and fast shooting is usually the name of the game.
Granted, released birds are not as challenging as wild quail. I have enjoyed many exciting quail hunts for “pen raised” birds that, when raised away from contact with man in large pens that allow flight conditioning, fly almost as strong as their wild counterparts.
Most preserves offer guided hunts behind good pointing dogs. Some allow hunters to bring their own pointers.
Waterfowl hunting. We’re right in the middle of the very best duck hunting of the season. I have enjoyed some very good shooting at several locations where I hunted ducks this year.
Where there is water, there are ducks. Granted, many of the upper ends of our lakes that usually provide good late season duck hunting are now void of water. Much of the public duck hunting land now has to be accessed by land, rather than water.
Goose hunting is going strong on the Texas Coast. Large numbers of juvenile snow and white-front geese make for good shooting.
A trip to the Texas Panhandle is another good option. I have a trip planned near Lubbock in a couple of weeks and there are large numbers of Canada geese and white-fronts wintering in the region.
Hopefully, you can get out and enjoy a hunting or fishing adventure during the Christmas holidays. And remember, a gift certificate for a hunting or fishing trip makes an excellent gift for that special outdoors person you know.
Listen to Luke Clayton’s outdoors radio program at Contact Luke at


Upcoming Games

Boys' Basketball

Dec. 27
EHS @ Rusk

Dec. 27-30
MHS @ Wagstaff Classic
(Tyler Junior College)
KHS @ Gatesville tourn.
EHS @ Scurry-Rosser tourn.

Jan. 2
KHS @ Kennedale
EHS @ Brownsboro

Jan. 5
MHS open
KHS vs Palestine
EHS @ Trinidad

Jan. 8
EHS vs Westwood

Jan. 9
MHS vs Brownsboro
KHS vs Palestine

Jan. 12
MHS vs Kaufman*
*District 13-3A game


Girls' Basketball

Dec. 28-30
MHS @ Scurry-Rosser tourn.
KHS @ Kaufman tourn.
EHS @ Trinidad Classic

Jan. 5
MHS vs Crandall*
KHS @ Ferris*
EHS @ Kaufman*

Jan. 9
EHS vs Ferris*

Jan. 12
MHS vs Kaufman*

Jan. 16
KHS vs Crandall*

Jan. 19
MHS vs Ferris*
KHS @ Kaufman*
EHS @ Crandall*
*District 13-3A game