High School: Plano East

Forney, Plano East fall short at state softball

June, 3, 2012
Plano East and Forney lost in the semifinals of the UIL state softball tournament Friday.

Plano East lost 6-3 to Klein Collins in a Class 5A semifinal. Deer Park beat Klein Collins 6-0 in the 5A state championship game.

Forney lost 11-3 to Montgomery in a 4A semifinal. Spring Branch Smithson Valley knocked off Montgomery 9-8 to win the 4A championship.

Other UIL state softball champions for 2012 are 1A Flatonia, 2A Crawford and 3A Lufkin Hudson.

Plano East outfielder Chandler Cink and Forney outfielder Rylie Chappell were named to the all-state softball tournament team.

Here are the full all-state tournament teams:

As the softball regular season played out, it became a foregone conclusion that someone from District 8-5A would earn an appearance in the state tournament this weekend.

Plano might have been the favorite coming off a state tournament berth last season, but Plano East separated itself as the top dog in 8-5A after beating Plano twice in district play and then knocking another district rival, Hebron, out of the playoffs in the regional finals last weekend.

Now, Plano East will represent what many coaches in North Texas believe is the toughest district in the state in Austin.

East will face Klein Collins in the 5A state semifinals at 3 p.m. Friday at the University of Texas’ McCombs softball field in its second trip to state in three years.

East’s success begins in the circle with ace Holly Kern, who notched 26 wins this season with just under 200 strikeouts and a 2.18 ERA.

East is equally as strong on offense, boasting nine batters with averages over .300, two of which are batting well over .400.

Kern again ranks at the top of her team on offense, hitting just under .400 and leads the team in both doubles and home runs.

Despite how strong Plano East looks on paper, Klein Collins looks even better. All but two Collins batters hit over .300 this season, led by Laura Lopez with a .500 average in just under 100 at-bats.

Collins split pitching time between Taylor Grissom and Tayler Atkinson, with Grissom standing out as the team’s ace, tallying 14 wins with an ERA just above 1.00.

If East can weather Collins’ offensive force, it will make its first trip to the state finals since 1995 when East lost 11-0 to Pasadena Dobie.

Plano East, Forney reach state softball tourney

May, 28, 2012
Class 4A Forney and Class 5A Plano East are the only schools from the area to reach the UIL state softball tournament, which runs Wednesday-Saturday in Austin.

Plano East defeated District 8-5A rival Hebron 5-4 in the 5A Region 1 final to earn its trip to state. The Panthers will face Klein Collins in a semifinal game at 3 p.m. Friday at the University of Texas' McCombs Field. The 5A championship game is scheduled for 4 p.m. Saturday.

Forney edged Ennis in a best-of-three 4A Region 2 final series, 6-5, 10-12, 2-1. The Jackrabbits face Montgomery in a state semifinal at 9 a.m. Friday. The 4A championship game is at 1 p.m. Saturday.

Here is the entire UIL state softball tournament schedule:

Class 1A semifinals
  • 9 a.m. - Ivanhoe Rayburn (24-1-1) vs. Petrolia (18-12)
  • Noon - Flatonia (28-5) vs. Garrison (26-5-1)
Class 2A semifinals
  • 3 p.m. - Mineola (32-1) vs. Alpine (31-6)
  • 6 p.m. - Crawford (34-2) vs. Danbury (27-7)
Class 3A semifinals
  • 9 a.m. - Lufkin Hudson (34-5) vs. West (29-9)
  • Noon - Henderson (29-8) vs. Liberty Hill (27-8)
Class 1A championship
  • 3 p.m. - Ivanhoe Rayburn/Petrolia winner vs. Flatonia/Garrison winner
Class 2A championship
  • 6 p.m. - Mineola/Alpine winner vs. Crawford/Danbury winner
Class 4A semifinals
  • 9 a.m. - Montgomery (33-6) vs. Forney (32-7-2)
  • Noon - Spring Branch Smithson Valley (28-6) vs. Waco Midway (34-8)
Class 5A semifinals
  • 3 p.m. - Plano East (35-3) vs. Klein Collins (30-4)
  • 6 p.m. - Northside O’Connor (31-2) vs. Deer Park (29-8)
Class 3A championship
  • 10 a.m. - Lufkin Hudson/West winner vs. Henderson/Liberty Hill winner
Class 4A championship
  • 1 p.m. - Montgomery/Forney winner vs. Spring Branch Smithson Valley/Waco Midway winner
Class 5A championship
  • 4 p.m. - Plano East/Klein Collins winner vs. Northside O’Connor/Deer Park winner
Plano East and Hebron softball will finish a three-game series to decide who goes to state.

This isn’t the typical best-of-three series that many coaches elect to play in the playoffs, it’s simply the third time the two will meet this season after facing each other twice in district play.

“Our district is really one of the hardest districts in the state of Texas,” Hebron coach Staci Jackson said. “It proves it because East has already played Flower Mound, and we’ve already played Plano, and now here we are playing Plano East to go to state. If that doesn’t show you that our district is extremely strong, I don’t know what does.”

Instead of deciding the Class 5A regional final in a best-of-three series, the decision went to a coin toss, which was won by Jackson in favor of a one-and-done game.

Jackson said she believes that this late in the season, a one-game regional final does more to prepare the winning team for the single-elimination state tournament in Austin.

Hebron entered the playoffs as the final seed coming out of District 8-5A but has peaked when it mattered and eliminated two district champions and two runners-up in its journey to the region final.

“In our district, it doesn’t really matter what seed you are,” Jackson said. “As long as you make it in the top four, anything can happen in the postseason.”

Hebron must conquer the challenge of a Plano East team that has dominated the Hawks in their two meetings 8-1 and 11-1 this season.

Defense is Jackson’s key to turning the tables on East, which has made a name for itself this season in its ability to generate offense in many different ways.

Jackson said her team’s ability is there to create a different result, so the trip to Austin might come down to the team with the better focus on defense.

“It might be the first team that makes a mistake that loses,” Jackson said.

Forney eyes return bid to state tournament

Forney surprised many last season by not only making the state tournament, but also advancing to the Class 4A state final, only to lose 10-3 to Santa Fe.

Because of that success, it’s no secret anymore that the Jackrabbits can play some ball.

However, Forney again reaches the regional finals as an underdog to its own district 15-4A champion Ennis, who beat Forney twice in district play.

“My girls came out of both games thinking we should have had a good shot at it,” Forney coach Eric Montgomery said. “My girls are not overly confident, but they are confident that they can perform well this weekend.”

Forney graduated threes seniors since last season’s state tournament campaign, including starting pitcher Macie Tillery, but the tandem of Danielle Najera and Allison Brown has stepped in seamlessly, offering two contrasting looks to opposing hitters.

Montgomery wanted a best-of-three series and ended up winning the toss. He said he believes multiple games will allow his hitters time to figure out Ennis’ pitching.

“I’m hoping that over a three-game series that my girls will be able to figure them out,” Montgomery said. “The ability to change up pitchers will be able to keep them off-balance hopefully because they are a pretty good hitting team as well.”
To say the Flower Mound softball team had a rough week would be a terrible understatement.

The team thought it had Saturday's one-game Class 5A regional quarterfinal against Plano East in the bag on a walk-off hit that scored a runner from second base in the bottom of the seventh.

The play appeared to end when the runner slid past a tag from the Plano East catcher, eliciting a safe signal from the home plate umpire.

But the runner was tagged during the Flower Mound celebration and was called out for not touching home plate.

The controversy boiled down to a small difference in rules between softball and baseball as mandated by the National High School Federation.

Rule 2, section 1, article 9 of the NHSF rule book states: “If a runner misses home plate and the catcher misses the tag, the umpire should hesitate slightly. If no tag is made, the umpire should declare the runner safe. If an appeal play is then made by tagging either the runner or home plate, the umpire should then make a decision on this appeal play.”

In baseball, umpires are instructed to hold position and refrain from making any call if no tag is made on a play and the runner misses the plate.

“The intention of the rule was probably meant to be good but in this situation it was not,” Flower Mound coach Mark Larriba said.

Flower Mound failed to plate any more runners in the seventh and could not come from behind in the eighth after Plano East took a 3-2 lead, ending the Lady Jaguars’ season in a crushing fashion.

And it came while the team was already dealing with tragedy.

Earlier in the week, Flower Mound catcher Christy Lisenby's father died in a car accident. The team did not practice Wednesday and had a memorial service to attend after the Saturday's game.

“There was a lot of emotion going around and then to have that happen,” Larriba said. “It was difficult to tell the girls the right thing. We realized softball is like life – it’s not fair. Sometimes things go against you but how you react to adversity is what coaches teach you and we really had to apply that.”

Larriba said he has no hard feelings toward the umpire, whom he said was trying to do his job to the best of his abilities, and wished Plano East the best of luck in their journey deeper in to the playoffs.

He just chalks it up to the human element to the game – which includes those who write the rules.

“The lesson is that people make mistakes. If we never forgave people for making mistakes, the world would be a hateful place,” Larriba said.

At least one area team destined for Austin

All that remain in the Class 4A Region II bracket are four strong teams from the Metroplex, meaning one will earn a bid to the state tournament in Austin.

Defending state finalist Forney returns to the regional semifinal to face a hot Rockwall squad that has yet to face much of a challenge in its playoff run. The first two games will be held at Forney on Thursday and Rockwall on Friday, with a rubber match Saturday at Plano West if necessary.

The winner of that series has either Frisco Wakeland or Ennis to look forward to in the region final.

Wakeland has been impressive, outscoring opponents 53-2 through four games in the first three rounds of play.

In 4A Region I, Birdville is the only area team still alive.

Hebron ousts Plano in regional quarterfinal

Plano will not make a return trip to Austin after falling to Hebron 4-2 in a one-game Class 5A regional quarterfinal Saturday.

That leaves just Plano East and Hebron representing the area in the 5A bracket, both in Region I. Plano East faces Lubbock Coronado and Hebron takes on El Paso Americas in the regional semis this weekend.
Rockwall and McKinney faced off twice this softball season in District 10-4A play, with district champion Rockwall winning both times, 3-1 and 8-2.

Just because district play is over doesn’t mean these two are done battling.

Rockwall and McKinney are slated to square off again in the regional quarterfinals of the 2012 UIL softball state playoffs in a best-of-three series at Allen High School.

Rockwall rides a high into the regional quarterfinal after knocking of Frisco Centennial decisively in the bi-district round. Centennial eliminated the Yellowjackets last year in the regional semifinals, Rockwall’s deepest trip into the playoffs under head coach Shadie Acosta.

Rockwall did not return the veteran experience it had last season but has peaked at the right time, taking a few lumps throughout the regular season to prepare for the challenging grind of the playoffs.

“You’re going to have some rough times in the beginning if you have a young team and you have to build that chemistry,” Acosta said. “I think we decided that we were going to make this work. We’ve had many opportunities this season to touch on those things and how important it is to have that common respect for each other on and off the field and how your work ethic will always pay off.”

Two of the highs in Rockwall’s roller-coaster season were wins over McKinney.

While the second score was lopsided in Rockwall’s favor, McKinney proved it could play with the Yellowjackets in the first matchup, leading 1-0 through the sixth inning before Rockwall mounted a three-run rally.

“They have a great pitcher and a few good players so we know that they’re not going to roll over for us," Acosta said. "They are our district rival and one of the better teams in our district so we’re always excited to face off against them.”

Plano and Plano East destined for playoff duel

Over the past two years, high school football fans have dubbed Allen-Euless Trinity playoff matchups as the biggest must-see games this side of the state championship.

In high school softball, the matchup of that caliber is looming just two rounds away.

Plano and Plano East share a district and placement in the ESPNHS Fab 50, with East coming in highest at No. 11.

Plano East took the season series and in turn claimed the district title over second-place Plano.

Before that matchup can happen, the two Plano schools will have to face their most challenging opponents to date in the regional quarterfinals.

Plano East will face the third-place finisher from its district, Flower Mound, in the regional quarterfinals this weekend.

In an interesting twist, Flower Mound handed Plano East its only two district losses of the season.

Plano faces Hebron, which finished fourth in District 8-5A but knocked off District 7-5A champion Keller and 6-5A runner-up Hurst L.D. Bell in the first two rounds of the playoffs.

Plano went the distance in its three-game area-round series before dispatching Mansfield Legacy, making nothing certain against a hot Hebron squad.

Eleven area players taken in 2012 draft

April, 28, 2012
Ron Brooks was drafted Saturday as the 124th overall pick by the Buffalo Bills as a cornerback, a position he has played for only three seasons.

Brooks was recruited by LSU out of Irving MacArthur as a wide receiver after spending the majority of his snaps at quarterback in high school.

“He was just a step quicker than anyone else on the field,” MacArthur coach Brian Basil said. “He played quarterback for us his senior year because we wanted the ball touching his hands every snap, but the main thing that separated him at the high school level was his speed and his level of toughness.”

Brooks made the shift over to cornerback his sophomore year at LSU, which Basil believes is proof of his devotion to the game -- one of his many intangibles.

“He understood that whatever it took to get him on the field he would do it,” Basil said. “That’s why when he went to LSU, he was receptive to play defense and on special teams. Those intangibles are what allowed him to make it to this level.”

Brooks played in 53 games at LSU, finishing with 90 tackles and 5.5 sacks. All three interceptions Brooks pulled in were returned for touchdowns.

“For him, I think wherever he had an opportunity to play would be a great fit.” Basil said. “To play at that level is a dream come true and I bet he’s thrilled to death and we’re thrilled for him.”

Redskins pick Plano East/UT linebacker

The Redskins picked up the athlete that “could do it all” for Plano East coach Johnny Ringo.

Keenan Robinson was selected as the 119th overall pick as a linebacker out of Texas, the fourth player to make it to the pro level out of Plano East.

“He was a tremendous leader for us and played both ways,” Ringo said. “He’s just a kid that could do it all. He was a great track athlete and had to give up basketball. He was a tremendous player for us and will be a tremendous representative of Plano East in the NFL.”

Robinson hit Twitter immediately after his selection, affirming his excitement with the team that selected him.

“God is Good… Im right where I needa be,” Robinson tweeted, followed by, “Oo whats up Washington… Im glad to be a Redskin #NoQuestion.”

Robinson started in 39 games for the Longhorns, tallying 317 tackles and 4.4 sacks.

He joins other standouts from the state of Texas in Baylor quarterback Robert Griffin III and Richardson Berkner/SMU lineman Josh LeRibeus as a part of the Redskins' draft class.

Other area draftees:

Josh LeRibeus (OG, Richardson Berkner/SMU): Selected 71st overall by the Redskins.

Jamell Fleming (CB, Arlington Seguin/Oklahoma): Selected 80th overall by the Cardinals. First player drafted from Arlington Seguin to be drafted.

Chris Givens (WR, Wylie/Wake Forest): Selected as the first pick of the fourth round, 96th overall, by the Rams.

Taylor Thompson (DE/TE, Prosper/SMU): Selected 145th overall by the Titans.

Cyrus Gray (RB, DeSoto/Texas A&M): Selected 182nd overall by the Chiefs.

James Hanna (TE, Flower Mound/Oklahoma): Selected 186th overall by the Cowboys.

Robert T. Griffin (OG, Euless Trinity/Baylor): Selected 203rd overall by the Jets.

Emmanuel Acho (LB, Dallas St. Mark’s/Texas): Selected 204th overall by the Browns.

Greg McCoy (DB/KR, Dallas Woodrow Wilson/TCU): Selected 220th overall by the Bears.
A year has passed, but not much has changed in the North Texas softball landscape.

Plano again enters the playoffs highly ranked nationally and a favorite to return to Austin to contend for a 5A state title. For its players, Friday’s bi-district opener against Denton Guyer couldn’t come any sooner after last season’s loss in the state semifinals.

“They’re so excited to finally get to the playoffs after such a hard district, finally getting to the playoff part,” Plano coach Cynthia Zea said.

The opening rounds of the playoffs could easily be thought as a brief reprieve from the gauntlet the team faced through district play, which included the area’s other highly ranked team, Plano East.

Plano didn’t run away with a district title this season as it did in 2011. It fell twice to Plano East, surrendering the championship to their cross-town rivals by heads-up tiebreaker. All but two of their District 8-5A competitors finished above .500.

However, there will be little time for Plano to catch its breath, with one of the toughest roads to state ahead of them. Denton Guyer finished third in District 7-5A behind strong competitors Keller and Keller Central.

If Plano pushes on to the area round, it could face ESPN Fab 50 No. 35 Mansfield Legacy, then Fab 50 honorable mention Keller in the third round.

“Our region, the North Texas region, in the last three or four years has really stepped up our game,” Zea said. “It used to be just he Houstons and the Austins. Now, I think softball is so strong that definitely someone from our region is going to Austin to represent us well. We just hope it’s us.”

Plano East has a slightly easier path through the introductory rounds of the playoffs, with District 7-5A runner-up Keller Central not an option until the third round.

In 4A, District 9-4A champion Frisco Wakeland could be a serious threat to make a long district run through a majority of Dallas ISD schools, with third-place finisher Frisco as a challenge in the third round. Wakeland took the season series from Frisco, winning 11-6 and 12-0.

Regardless of the district, what every coach has to deal with is a new set of challenges presented from teams across the state.

“They present a whole different set of challenges, but our girls just have to get up there hit the ball and play good defense and we’ll be fine,” Zea said.
Ashley Lindsey took the circle in Dallas Woodrow Wilson’s first-fast pitch softball game in the late '90s and led her school into a whole new era of Dallas ISD girls sports.

More than a dozen years later, and under her married name, Ashley Palavicini returns to Woodrow’s newly renovated home field at Randall Park as much as she can to pitch batting practice and fine-tune the technique of the team’s pitching staff, providing a softball fix she lost since she finished playing at Stephen F. Austin University.

Just as valuable as her knowledge of drop balls and risers is her experience building up a program.

“It’s been an awesome experience to see how much public school fast-pitch softball has grown and to see the team that Coach [Joe] Sawyer has put together," she said. "I was blown away.”

For the first time, Woodrow had an amazing 50-girl turnout for tryouts this season, allowing Sawyer to be more selective in his first year at Woodrow than the coaches who came before him.

That created a dedicated group of girls who have put together an 8-3 record in District 12-4A, putting the Wildcats in the hunt for a quality playoff seed.

Just as Palavicini helped build Woodrow's early softball program, freshman catcher Nina Hernandez is keying the team's resurgence.

Hernandez has a staggering .793 batting average with six inside-the-park home runs while managing Woodrow’s pitching staff from behind the plate.

“Nina could play anything,” Sawyer said. “I told her mom the other day that I wished she was my son because that’s how good she is.”

Woodrow outscored its last two opponents, Thomas Jefferson and Dallas Lincoln, by a 53-8 total.

“We have a sense of urgency towards playing hard in every at bat and every play, so it’s good that we can put this many runs on these teams.” Hernandez said.

Last undefeated team falls

No area teams remain undefeated in 2012 after Lake Highlands took its first loss to District 9-5A rival Richardson Berkner 5-3 last week.

Lake Highlands had taken the first game from the Lady Rams 10-1 earlier in district play.

The Berkner win ties the Rams with Lake Highlands for the top district seed at 10-1 with one game to play in the season.

Plano East pulls even with Plano

Plano East took the second district matchup against rival Plano on Tuesday in an 8-7 thriller, leaving the teams tied for No. 1 seed in District 8-5A.

The two highest ranked Metroplex teams in the ESPN Fab 50 poll both have one game left to play in district to attempt to sort out playoff seeding.

Plano East faces last-place Lewisville on Friday at 7:30, and Plano has sixth-place Plano West on Friday at 7 p.m.
Coming off a softball state tournament appearance in 2010 and 2011’s regional quarterfinal team, Hebron senior pitcher Heather Stearns surprisingly had to step her game up.

She is one of the few remaining leaders from 2010’s state semifinal team and one of the few returning from last season as Hebron (19-9, 5-6) graduated seven seniors in 2011. Since the offseason, Stearns has felt the pressure to carry 2012’s young team on her shoulders from inside the circle.

“She’s really had to hold her own this year.” Hebron coach Staci Jackson said. “She’s really had to show a lot of leadership and she most definitely has. She worked extremely hard over the offseason to really try and get stronger and hold her stamina up because she knows over the past two years during our playoff and state runs – it takes a toll on her.”

In turn, her diligence in the weight room has not only helped her longevity in the circle, separating herself again as one of the area’s leaders in strikeouts with 188, but it’s put her at the top of the home run charts in the Metroplex with 12.

“I think her time is still coming,” Jackson said. “We’ve got three games left in district which are huge and I think her time is coming offensively.”

Hebron heads into potentially its most important game of the season Friday against Plano West, which sits just behind Hebron in fifth place with a 4-7 District 8-5A record with three games to play.

District 8-5A continues to dominate area softball

The distance between No. 3 and No. 30 in the ESPN Fab 50 national polls is approximately 7 miles.

Last year’s state semifinalist Plano continues its domination in 2012 with a 23-3 season record and a 10-1 district record, but the Wildcats are in No. 3 Plano East’s rearview mirror in both the district standings and the Fab 50.

Plano East pitcher Holly Kern has held her own in the circle, putting up a 1.77 ERA, but has had plenty of offensive support from nine players hitting above .300.

The Panthers (26-2, 10-1) took the first game against Plano 8-1, but the Wildcats still have a chance for revenge April 17 in the second-to-last game of the season for both teams.

Also in the Week 6 Fab 50 poll from the area is Mansfield Legacy at No. 42.
COPPELL, Texas -- The Keller girls basketball team rode the hot scoring touch of Taylor Vincent into the area round of the 5A playoffs on Monday night.

Vincent scored a game-high 23 points, including five 3-pointers, to help Keller knock down Plano East, 67-59, in the bi-district matchup at Coppell.

Boys brackets: 5A »   4A »
Girls brackets: 5A »   4A »
State tournament: Girls » Boys »
Keller (27-6) hit 14 from 3-point range, which were huge keys to its two big runs.

"I don't know how you could shoot it much better," Keller coach Doug Sporrer said. "She's shooting 42 percent on the year. It's amazing. Taylor does a great job and she's had a really steady year so we couldn't be happier with her."

The first run came in the third quarter when Keller strung together several baskets, many coming off Plano East turnovers, to form a 10-2 run. Two free throws off a technical foul assessed to Plano East's assistant coach were also a part of that run.

Keller then put together a 9-1 run during the first half of the fourth quarter, sparked by Vincent's final 3 of the night.

Coming into Monday, Keller had hit 12 3's as a team in its last two games of the regular season.

"We know we have to shoot it well and we spend almost half of practice shooting the ball," Sporrer said. "Sometimes it falls and sometimes they don't, but when they fall, we're a pretty tough team to beat."

Plano East (23-12) pushed its press to the limit in the final two minutes of the game, creating a 10-0 run of its own, but ran out of time before a true comeback could take shape.

Sporrer said it was his team's goal to raise a banner after this season ended. Keller already has two banners won for a co-district championship with Southlake Carroll and a bi-district win.

It was Keller's first bi-district win in girls basketball since 1999 and first district championship since before 1987.

Now, Keller has the daunting task of potentially facing ESPNDallas.com No. 1 Irving MacArthur in the area round if MacArthur advances past Mansfield on Tuesday.

"Play the number one team in the state -- what do you have to lose?" Sporrer said.

Realignment notes: Playoff rivalries on hold

February, 2, 2012

NORTH RICHLAND HILLS, Texas -- Notes from 2012 reclassification and realignment day.

*Say goodbye to the chance of Euless Trinity-Allen and DeSoto-Dallas Skyline second-round playoff meetings that have become a fixture in recent seasons. Allen’s move to Region II and DeSoto’s move to Region I mean a playoff renewal couldn’t happen until the fifth round next year.

*The District 7-5A playoff teams could be looking at a bi-district trip to Central Texas. It will be facing teams from 8-5A made up of four Killeen schools, Belton, Copperas Cove, Temple and Waco Midway.

*Plano East coach Johnny Ringo thought he had taken every precaution in setting up his nondistrict schedule prior to Thursday’s realignment. But there he was, struggling to find a game after landing in a six-team district. “I was ready if we’d been put in a seven-team district, but I didn’t see six coming.’’ When last seen, Ringo was on the phone, scouring the San Antonio area for a potential opponent.

*Lake Travis’ run of five straight Class 4A state titles ends with its promotion to Class 5A.

*Look for some scheduling problems in District 4-5A, which features four Keller schools that share one stadium.

*Landing in a six-team district is no big deal for Flower Mound coach Dane Johnson, on the job for only two weeks. At his previous stint at Class 3A Boerne, Johnson said six-team districts were all he knew.

*Corsicana’s move to the East Texas-flavored 16-4A ends district rivalries with Waxahachie and Ennis.

*Amarillo, the Class 5A program with the most wins all-time, drops to Class 4A. Plano will take over the top spot in wins in 5A and Amarillo will be second to Highland Park in 4A.

Lincoln girls take down DISD Tournament title

December, 30, 2011
DALLAS -- ESPNHS girls Fab 50 No. 39 Dallas Lincoln held off district rival Dallas Skyline 66-60 on Thursday to claim the gold medal in the DISD/Coca-Cola Tournament.

Junior guard Breanna Hayeden led the Tigers with 19 points, followed by Alisha Washington with 15 and tournament MVP Kelsey Criner with 14.

Skyline guard Jen Von'Ta Hill tallied a game-high 22 points in the losing effort.

Girls third-place game: Little Rock Parkview 51, Denton Guyer 36.

Parkview all-tournament selection Erin Peoples netted a team-high 10 points to claim the third place trophy for the state of Arkansas.

She tied Guyer's all-tournament selection Jasmine Leday for the game-high in scoring.

A 21-7 third quarter was enough to push Parkview to a lead it wouldn't relinquish.

Boys consolation championship: West Mesquite 77, Plano East 73.

West Mesquite's one-two punch of Anthony Walker and all-tournament selection Braylon Rayson took down Plano East with point totals of 24 and 23, respectively.

Plano East guard Marcus Mathieu led the Panther's scoring with 22 points.

8-5A falls short of expectations in postseason

November, 21, 2011
Since District 8-5A’s conception two years ago, many considered it one of the strongest and deepest football districts in the state.

With realignment looming in February, Flower Mound Marcus and Allen losing this weekend marked the end of the perceived super-district.

Bi-district »   Area round »
Region semis »   Region finals »
State semis »   Finals »   Totals »

Class 5A: Div. I | Div. II
Class 4A: Div. I | Div. II

5A Division I: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
5A Division II: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
4A Division I: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
4A Division II: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2

While the 8-5A performed well in nondistrict play during the regular season, its playoff record didn’t live up to the hype.

Consider these numbers:

-- 8-5A went an incredible 38-10 in nondistrict regular-season play;

-- 8-5A went just 3-8 in the playoffs;

-- 8-5A went 3-5 against District 7-5A, its bi-district rival;

-- No 8-5A team went beyond the area round, and only three teams made it to area – both Allen teams and 2011 Marcus.

Like with any statistic, these numbers come with caveats.

It’s hard to say how good the two Allen teams were because they got very unfortunate area-round draws against Euless Trinity. With a better draw, Allen might have improved 8-5A’s overall playoff record.

The same can be said of playing 7-5A in bi-district. If 8-5A had been number 9 or 10 instead of 8 and played a weaker district in the first round, it might have been a very different story.

However, the final results don’t refute two facets of 8-5A – parity and depth. Only two teams didn’t make the playoffs in the district’s two-year history (Plano West and Lewisville), and playoff-worthy teams got left out of the postseason both years because of tiebreakers (Hebron in 2010, Plano West in 2011).

And for evidence of parity within the district, one only had to watch a game. District 8-5A play produced some of the year’s best regular-season games of the season, and the average margin of victory for 8-5A playoff teams against other 8-5A playoff teams was less than a touchdown.

Southlake Carroll survives Plano East scare

November, 12, 2011
ARLINGTON, Texas -- Plano East (6-5) gained a reputation for being heart attack kids by unexpectedly hanging with some of the area’s top teams until the final buzzer this season.

Plano East took Allen, arguably the best team in the state, to the wire earlier in the year on national TV and gave Southlake Carroll (11-0) a scare of epic proportions in Saturday’s 5A Division I bi-district match at Cowboys Stadium.

[+] EnlargeKenny Hill
Travis L. Brown/ESPNDallas.comSouthlake Carroll quarterback Kenny Hill threw for 205 yards and ran for 199 more.
The Dragons held on to win, 23-16, but they needed every second to down the scrappy Plano East squad.

Southlake Carroll had the game all but wrapped up with just over a minute left in the fourth quarter, when a pass play came in to quarterback Kenny Hill on third-and-7. The objective, Hill said, was to go ahead and end this one quickly by putting seven more points on the board.

Thanks to a tip by the Plano East line, the plan backfired and the heart attack kids had another shot to down state title contender Carroll.

“We thought we had a good play called,” Southlake coach Hal Wasson said. "Obviously it wasn’t. We weren’t counting on them tipping the ball at the line of scrimmage. In hind sight, if I could see the future, we’d probably have to run it down there.”

But is Plano East is also the heartbreak kids for fans. Just a few plays later, quarterback Corey Wesley threw an interception to Jeremy McClellan. Two victory formation kneels later, and the game was over.

“I trust our team. I trusted our defense to go out and respond and that’s what they did," Wasson said.

Bi-district »   Area round »
Region semis »   Region finals »
State semis »   Finals »   Totals »

Class 5A: Div. I | Div. II
Class 4A: Div. I | Div. II

5A Division I: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
5A Division II: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
4A Division I: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2
4A Division II: Reg. 1 | Reg. 2

The Dragons are always lucky to have Hill on their side to extend drives, running valuable time off the clock. Hill carried the ball 33 times for 199 yards and opened up those running lanes by passing for 205 yards.

Hill scored Carroll’s first touchdown in the second quarter to pull within a point of Plano East’s eight-point lead, but failed to convert on the 2-point try.

A 46-yard field goal by Carroll kicker Drew Brown gave the Dragons the lead going into the locker room.

Plano East stuck with its well-prepared game plan after the break, taking back the lead on a 41-yard touchdown pass to Dante Taylor early in the third.

Carroll tied it up with just under four minutes left in the third on a 9-yard pass to Peyton Williams, streaking across the back of the end zone.

Both defenses stood tall in the fourth, turning the game into a back-and-forth punting contest until Hill led the Dragons down the field and A.J. Ezzard broke through the line for a 1-yard touchdown run with four minutes to play in the game.

Wasson said that East’s late game scare gave his team much needed playoff pressure experience.

“I don’t care what you put in, they have to get this playoff game experience and fortunately we have a lot of great leadership here that they can follow,” Wasson said. “We’ve won a lot of games like this, but I think it speaks volumes about the integrity and character of this team.”

It doesn’t get any easier for Carroll next week with Cedar Hill (8-3) coming to Cowboys Stadium to challenge the Dragons in the area round at 11 a.m. Saturday.