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Lake-area teams make history in
By Kerry Yancey
Monitor Staff Writer
CEDAR CREEK LAKE–In 2007, it became clearer that no
single area school district could dominate every sport.
Monitor File Photo
Mabank’s Guillermo Mendieta grimaces as he
squats 475 pounds during the District 13-3A powerlifting meet at
Crandall Feb. 24. Mendieta won the 165-pound weight division with an
adjusted score of 857.15 (1,200 pounds total).
A new sport also opened this past year,
when Eustace School Board members authorized starting a varsity soccer
program. The Bulldog soccer teams played a junior varsity schedule, and
were scheduled to play their first varsity games in January.
Eustace AD Brad Scoggin, whose football teams had gone 7-23 over his
three-year tenure, was reassigned over the school’s Christmas break, and
EHS principal Stan Sowers was named as the interim AD.
Three Mabank Panther football players were named to the academic
all-state team – Zachary Costlow (first team), David Parry and Shane
Burk (second team). All three played both ways for the tri-champion
Eustace senior Alyson Harlan and Mabank junior Miranda Groom were named
second-team All-East Texas volleyball squad by the Tyler Morning
Telegraph. Mabank senior Pheng Leav made the newspaper’s honorable
mention list, which included players from 27 districts.
Kaufman’s Lions served notice they would challenge Kemp’s Yellowjackets
for the boys District 13-3A basketball title by upsetting the ’Jackets
44-31 in their first-round matchup at Kaufman.
The teams would meet twice more – a second-round OT contest at Kemp and
a regional quarterfinals showdown three rounds deep in the playoffs.
In their first-round finale, the hosting Mabank Panthers would force the
’Jackets to go to overtime before falling 52-46.
Mabank’s girls also knocked off the Kemp girls, but the fact that the
Lady ’Jackets were still in the running for a playoff spot at the end of
the first round represented a tremendous step forward for the KHS girls
Monitor File Photo
Eustace Bulldog shortstop Chris Compton (left) fires toward first to
complete a double play after forcing out Kemp’s Bret Kennedy (2) during
the District 13-3A baseball opener for both squads March 23. Compton
would later be named the district’s Newcomer of the Year for both
baseball (as a freshman) and football (as a sophomore quarterback).
Kaufman’s boys dealt Mabank’s hopes for a playoff spot a severe blow
with a 48-46 win over the Panthers in Kaufman.
Former Kerens High School graduate and head coach Hal Wasson took over
the head coaching duties at Southlake Carroll High School, after veteran
Southlake coach Todd Dodge took the head coaching job at the University
of North Texas.
Mabank’s Lady Panthers basketball team, led by first-year head coach
David Brown, secured the district’s third-place playoff berth with a win
It took a trey at the buzzer by senior guard Justin Gibson for the Kemp
boys to edge visiting Crandall, 39-38, giving the ’Jackets a 6-1 record
in district play.
In their second overtime game of district, the Kemp Yellowjackets
outmuscled the visiting Kaufman Lions 48-45 to earn a split with the
Lions, and the ’Jackets clinched the District 13-3A championship with a
road win at Ferris.
Eustace, beset by widespread illness, had second-round basketball games
with Crandall and Kaufman cancelled, as the school closed, reopened and
Mabank High School hosted a powerlifting meet, with the Panther boys
winning and the Lady Panthers second overall. Kemp lifters also took
weight division titles.
In the District 13-3A and regular-season basketball finale, Mabank’s
boys had to beat Kemp to have any shot at a playoff berth, but the
’Jackets slammed the door with a 68-41 victory.
The Lady Panthers’ trek into the basketball playoffs was a short one, as
the Canton Eaglettes knocked them out with a 51-30 bidistrict pasting.
Eustace School Board members named Oklahoma native Doug Wendel as the
new athletic director in late February, hiring him away from Lake
Highlands High School in Richardson.
Kemp’s boys posted a dramatic 48-47 win over the Gilmer Buckeyes in the
area round of the basketball playoffs, setting up a rematch against
Mabank, Kemp and Eustace lifters tried to qualify for the regional
powerlifting meet with strong showings at the District 13-3A
powerlifting meet at Crandall.
In their third meeting of the season, the Kemp ’Jackets edged the
Kaufman Lions 47-45 in overtime to advance to the Region II basketball
tournament for the first time in school history.
Monitor File Photo
Veteran Eustace High School volleyball coach
Chuck Powers is covered in Silly String by his players after the Lady
Bulldogs defeated visiting Kaufman Oct. 9 to give Powers his 600th
Both teams’ centers – Kemp’s 6-5 Jacarri Culberson and Kaufman’s 6-9
James Valladares – later were named the district’s co-MVPs, while Kemp
senior guard Joseph Simmons was named the district’s offensive player of
Both Culberson and Simmons would later be named to the All-Region team.
In the Region II tournament semifinals, the ’Jackets had a horrible
shooting night and lost to the Princeton Panthers 38-26. Princeton would
later fall to the Chapel Hill Bulldogs in the finals.
Kemp finished with a 20-13 record, collecting district, area and
regional quarterfinals championship trophies.
As area teams got fully into baseball and softball seasons, Kemp
Athletic Director Walt Mangan resigned after two years at the school,
following a disappointing 1-9 football campaign.
Mabank hosted the Cedar Creek Relays at newly renovated Panther Stadium.
The Mabank boys finished third (Palestine Westwood won, with Rockwall
Heath second), while Mabank Lady Panther sophomore Chelsey Dillon
smashed a nine-year-old record by 25 seconds in the girls 3200 run.
Kemp’s Lady Yellowjackets notched their first district softball win in
four years by nipping the visiting Kaufman Lady Lions 9-8, coming back
from an 8-2 deficit with six runs in the fifth inning.
In a first-round district baseball showdown, Kemp used a combination of
Nick Sallings’ no-hitter and eight Mabank errors to defeat the hosting
Mabank’s girls won their third straight district golf championship,
while Kemp won the boys team title, with Mabank second. All three teams
qualified for the regional golf tournament.
Two of Eustace’s multi-sport standouts, seniors Alyson Harlan and Traci
Garrett, each signed national letters of intent.
Harlan, a two-time district MVP in volleyball and the softball MVP as a
junior, signed with Texas Womens University in Denton, while Garrett, a
four-year state cross country qualifier who also played every available
sport, signed with West Texas A&M University in Canyon.
Eustace and Mabank capped the field at the District 13-3A track meet,
with the highlight of the field events being Bulldog Zach Keeling
setting a new school record by leaping 6-4 to win the high jump.
Eustace’s girls and boys won both team championships at the district
meet, with Kaufman a distant second in both boys and girls standings.
The second Courtney Howard memorial scholarship golf tournament drew 132
players to the Cedar Creek Country Club and raised about $30,000 for
Mabank’s girls maintained their softball playoff hopes with a 6-5
come-from-behind win over the visiting Kemp girls in the next-to-last
On the boys’ side, the Panthers’ win over Eustace and Kemp’s win over
Crandall set up separate showdowns for playoff berths.
In their softball season finale, the Kemp Lady ’Jackets nipped the
visiting Eustace Lady Bulldogs 12-11 in a see-saw contest.
Mabank’s girls lost their season finale to unbeaten Ferris, but still
qualified for the district’s third-place playoff berth.
Kemp’s boys clinched the District 13-3A baseball crown by run-ruling
visiting Ferris, 14-3, while Crandall grabbed the district’s
second-place berth by run-ruling the hosting Mabank Panthers, 14-1. The
Panthers claimed the third-place playoff spot.
Kemp senior Kate Donovan qualified for the state track meet and set a
new school record (11:58.31) with a second-place finish in the 3200 run
at the regional meet in Commerce.
Eustace senior Jordan Nixon qualified twice as an alternate for state by
finishing third in both the 800 run and 1600 run.
Eustace’s Tanita Durnell also qualified as an alternate by finishing
third in the 1600 run, while Mabank’s April Miller took third place in
the girls 100 meter dash.
Mabank’s run in the softball playoffs was a short one, as they were
swept by the Bullard Lady Panthers. Bullard freshman pitcher Erin Kipp
no-hit Mabank in the first game and allowed just one hit in the second
Kemp School Board members tapped Greg Anderson to be the district’s new
head football coach and athletic director.
Anderson, who has coached 13 years, came to Kemp from Sabine High
Mabank was knocked out of the baseball playoffs by the Van Vandals, who
made two first-inning runs stand up in a 2-0 bidistrict nail-biter.
Multi-sport standouts Shadia Rueb and Mark Groom were named the Female
and Male “Athletes of the Year” at the annual Mabank High School
Texarkana Pleasant Grove swept the Kemp Yellowjackets in a best-of-three
area baseball playoff series. The first game was interrupted by a severe
thunderstorm and completed the following afternoon.
Three multi-sport standouts – Jordan Nixon, Alyson Harlan and Traci
Garrett – were honored as the Eustace High School “Athletes of the Year”
at the school’s annual awards ceremonies.
Nixon graduated while holding (solely or jointly) five school running
records, while Harlan and Garrett played on 30 different varsity teams,
collecting four district MVP honors between them.
Kemp, Eustace and Mabank all placed players on the District 13-3A
baseball all-district team.
Kemp High School seniors Eric Sparks and Kate Donovan were named the
male and female “Athletes of the Year” at the school’s annual all-sports
Dylan Bice caught an 18-pound smallmouth buffalo in Cedar Creek Lake
April 28, and in late May, the fish was certified as a new state youth
record by the Texas Freshwater Fisheries Center in Athens.
Dylan caught the fish (28 inches long and 22¾ inches around) on a
rod-and-reel combo, using a worm for bait.
A record number of youngsters turned out for the annual Youth
All-American Fishing Tournament at Purtis Creek State Park.
Near-record turnouts were also seen at annual basketball and football
camps around the area.
Following a stellar high school career, Kemp High School graduate Kate
Donovan signed a letter of intent to run cross country and track for
Texas A&M University at Commerce.
Mabank High School graduates Jade Vela and Pam Black each signed letters
of intent to play soccer at Wayland Baptist University of Plainview.
Both girls were expected to help the college resurrect its ladies soccer
program, discontinued in 2003.
A severe thunderstorm halted Friday night’s competition at the 52nd
annual Mabank Rodeo, but Saturday’s action continued under threatening
Wills Point High School student Michael Morris won the second annual
Eustace Pioneer Day 5K, clocking 17:32 on wet streets.
Katie Kelley, 27, one of a 14-member group of runners from Canton, was
the women’s winner, clocking 19:05.
Kemp School Board members hired Mark, Inc. to build new baseball and
softball fields just east (behind) Yellowjacket Stadium at a proposed
cost of $470,000.
As planned, the south face of a new Kemp High School would overlook the
Legendary Baptist Church in Gun Barrel City won the end-of-season Cedar
Creek Christian Softball League tournament title, defeating the
Christian Life Center Crushers 13-7 in the championship game.
Rain disrupted almost all of the league’s June schedule, limiting most
teams to just 10 or 11 games (nobody played more than 12), and the
tournament was delayed by rain twice.
The Mabank First Baptist Church Puddle Monkeys took third place with a
come-from-behind 9-8 win over the Gun Barrel City First Baptist Church
Mabank’s Panthers advanced to the semifinals at the state 7-on-7
tournament at College Station, falling to District 7-2A Crane’s Golden
Cranes 51-49 in double overtime.
Mabank went 2-1 in pool play, and knocked off Madisonville, Canton and
Pleasanton to reach the semifinals.
At the same time, Panther coaches moved into their new digs at the
brand-new high school, about three weeks ahead of the school’s official
Aug. 5 dedication.
A team representing Presbyterian Hospital of Kaufman won the Greater
Cedar Creek Lake Area Chamber of Commerce Red Hot “18” golf tournament
on a steamy Cedar Creek Country Club course July 30.
Area football and volleyball teams begin practices, with new coaches
starting their tenures – Greg Anderson and Doug Wendel (Kemp and Eustace
football) and Peggy Swierc (Kemp volleyball).
Going into early-season play, expectations probably were highest for the
Mabank football and volleyball teams.
The Panther football team was a pre-season pick to win District 13-3A or
finish second behind Kaufman, while the Mabank volleyball team – with
four starters back from last year’s 10-0 district champions – was the
consensus loop favorite.
The Lady Panther volleyball team struggled with an extremely tough
schedule, going 9-9 early, but none of those losses were to a 3A team.
In their football season openers, the Mabank Panthers ran up the points
in a 58-21 win over visiting Rusk, while the Eustace Bulldogs won their
first game under Doug Wendel by blowing out Malakoff, 39-0.
At Kemp, the Fort Worth Castleberry Lions edged the Yellowjackets 26-23,
spoiling Greg Anderson’s coaching debut.
In the second game of the season, Mabank had one of its worst games in
what turned out to be a roller-coaster season, falling to the hosting
Athens Hornets 20-14.
Eustace’s Bulldogs remained unbeaten with a dominating 33-7 win over
Grand Saline, while the Kemp Yellowjackets took on an area top 10 squad
in Quinlan Ford’s Panthers and lost 49-10.
In volleyball, Eustace’s young Lady Bulldogs continued to do well,
defeating the Caddo Mills Lady Foxes to improve to 12-7 on the season,
while Mabank’s Lady Panthers bopped both John Tyler and Carthage to stay
above .500 at 15-11.
Kemp’s Yellowjackets finally got a win in their third game, taking out
Malakoff 35-7 (it would end up as their only win of the season), and
headed into a bye week hoping to get healthier after a rash of injuries.
Both Eustace and Mabank fell in their respective third games, as
Edgewood’s Bulldogs defeated the visiting Eustace Bulldogs 35-21, while
Whitehouse (who went three rounds deep in the 4A playoffs last year)
knocked off the hosting Panthers, 42-21.
Area volleyball teams began District 13-3A play, and the Lady Panthers
took a huge step toward repeating as district champions by knocking off
the Crandall Lady Pirates 3-1 in the loop opener at Crandall.
Both Mabank and Eustace football teams hit low points on their
respective seasons, as the Panthers were soundly beaten by the Rockwall
Heath Hawks, 31-6, while Eustace suffered eight turnovers in a 60-25
loss to hosting Quitman.
While Kemp rested, Mabank got back on the winning track with a
homecoming shoot-out victory over Wills Point, while Eustace came up
just short in a 26-20 homecoming loss to Palmer.
In district volleyball action, Mabank essentially secured a playoff
berth by coming from behind to nip hosting Eustace 3-1 in a key
first-round match, and later knocked off hosting Kemp to finish the
first round 5-0.
While Mabank and Eustace took bye weeks, the Kemp Yellowjackets fell to
hosting Hillsboro (an eventual playoff team) 34-9.
Eustace’s Lady Bulldogs took a big step toward securing the district’s
third-place playoff berth by beating Kaufman, giving veteran Eustace
coach Chuck Powers his 600th career victory.
In the District 13-3A openers, Kaufman’s Lions held off a late charge to
defeat the visiting Mabank Panthers 27-21, while the Eustace Bulldogs
scored with 25 seconds left to secure a 41-35 victory over hosting Kemp.
Mabank knocked off Eustace 42-7 in the second district contest, while
hosting Crandall edged Kemp 38-30 in a wild shoot-out that featured more
than 800 yards of offense, nine turnovers and 17 penalties.
In volleyball action, the Lady Panthers crushed Crandall and Eustace by
identical 3-0 scores to clinch their second straight District 13-3A
championship, and rolled over Kemp to complete a second straight 10-0
Crandall claimed the district’s second-place playoff berth, while
Eustace took the third-place berth.
Eustace’s Bulldogs knocked off Crandall, 21-14, to put themselves in the
football playoff hunt, while Mabank’s playoff chances suffered a bit
when they lost a 51-47 shoot-out to hosting Ferris.
Kaufman continued its unbeaten march through district with a 55-26 win
over hosting Kemp.
Eustace’s cross country teams swept the District 13-3A competition,
winning both the girls and boys varsity titles and the girls and boys
junior varsity championships.
The EHS girls placed four runners in the top 10 en route to their sixth
Mabank’s Chelsey Dillon won the girls’ race, while Eustace runners
Zachary Bennett and Zachary Arambula finished one-two in the boys race.
Eustace’s Lady Bulldogs fell to Bullard 3-1 in the first round of the
volleyball playoffs, as Bullard junior Calli Miller had a career match,
notching 29 kills.
In football, Mabank’s Panthers blindsided the visiting Crandall Pirates,
52-7, opening a 21-0 lead before the Pirate offense even stepped on the
Ferris knocked off the visiting Kemp Yellowjackets, 48-22, while Kaufman
crushed visiting Eustace 56-7.
Mabank’s Lady Panthers crushed the Atlanta Lady Rabbits 3-0 in Tyler to
win an area volleyball championship trophy.
Eustace’s girls cross country team won its fourth straight regional
title, qualifying them for the state cross country meet, while the
Eustace boys took second place in the regional meet.
At the state meet in Round Rock, Mabank’s Chelsey Dillon took sixth
place overall, while the Eustace girls finished seventh and the EHS boys
Mabank’s volleyball playoff run came to a halt against the White Oak
Lady Roughnecks, who became the only Class 3A team to beat the Lady
Panthers with a 3-1 regional quarterfinals win at Whitehouse.
White Oak eventually advanced to the state semifinals. Mabank finished
the season at 29-13, collecting a second straight district championship
trophy and an area championship trophy along the way.
The Lady Panthers dominated the all-district volleyball team selections,
as Miranda Groom was named the district’s MVP, Kelsi Reynolds was picked
as Setter of the Year, Katie Cross was the co-Server of the Year and
both Macey Thomas and Hali Schultz were named to the six-member first
Eustace’s Cassie Freeman was tapped as the Defensive Player of the Year,
while Rebekah Walter was the Blocker of the Year and Caty DiBari was a
In the football regular season finale, Ferris ended the Eustace
Bulldogs’ playoff berth hopes with a 41-28 win, while Mabank’s Panthers
secured the district’s Division I (big-school) playoff berth by beating
Both Eustace and Kemp opened basketball season with new boys and girls
At Eustace, Keli Moore moved up from the middle school to lead the girls
varsity team, while Chad Martinez started his tenure with the boys’
At Kemp, Vince Morgan stepped in to lead the girls team, while Terrance
McCloud took over the long-successful boys’ program.
In a rematch of the second game of the year, the Mabank Panthers
defeated the Athens Hornets 29-14 in Corsicana.
The football bidistrict championship victory was Mabank’s first playoff
win in 19 years and propelled the Panthers into the Division I regional
championship against the unbeaten Gilmer Buckeyes.
The next weekend in Nacogdoches, the Panthers scored twice in the final
two minutes to throw a severe scare into the Buckeyes before falling,
About 500 shivering fans braved temperatures in the 30s, driving rain
and high winds to watch the Panthers hold Gilmer to its (then) lowest
point output of the season and narrowest margin of victory.
Mabank finished the season at 6-6, while Gilmer went on to advance to
the state championship game.
The district playoff teams – Mabank, Kaufman and Ferris (who both lost
in the bidistrict round) – dominated the football all-district
Panther junior quarterback Kolton Browning, who ran for almost 1,000
yards and passed for almost 3,000 yards, was named the 13-3A Most
Eustace sophomore quarterback Chris Compton picked up his second
Newcomer of the Year award (being tapped in baseball as a freshman back
in the spring), while Kemp’s Matt Brown was named the Special Teams
Player of the Year.
A number of Eustace cross country runners, along with both coaches and a
couple of parents, participated in the annual White Rock Lake
half-marathon in Dallas Dec. 10.
Basketball season clicked into high gear, as all the area teams went
into tournament mode early in December.
Mabank hosted the ninth annual Cedar Creek Lake Shoot-Out, which
featured one of the toughest tournament fields around.
Jacksonville won the tournament over Dallas A.Maceo Smith, while Dallas
Madison edged the hosting Mabank Panthers for third place.
Good quickness and team speed helped the Panthers to stay well above
.500 going into the Christmas break.
Mabank’s Lady Panthers were also fairly successful, but a run of
injuries and illness forced a number of younger players to step up prior
to the Christmas break.
At Eustace, the Bulldog boys were seeing moderate success against a list
of strong opponents, while the young Lady Bulldogs were struggling
Kemp’s girls also were seeing moderate success under their new coach,
but the Kemp boys were struggling to offset the loss of a couple of
all-region players to graduation.
Late in the month, Mabank’s Kelsi Reynolds, a two-time Setter of the
Year, signed a letter of intent to play volleyball at Panola College in
MHS @ Crandall*
KHS vs Ferris*
EHS vs Kaufman*
MHS vs KHS*
EHS @ Ferris*
MHS @ Kaufman*
KHS vs EHS*
MHS vs EHS*
KHS @ Crandall*
MHS @ Ferris*
KHS vs Kaufman
EHS vs Crandall*
MHS vs Crandall*
KHS @ Ferris*
EHS @ Kaufman*
*District 13-3A contest
KHS @ Palestine
EHS @ Trinidad
MHS @ Kaufman*
KHS vs EHS*
MHS vs EHS*
KHS @ Crandall*
MHS @ Ferris*
KHS vs Kaufman*
EHS vs Crandall*
*District 13-3A contest