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Tough schedule pushes Marble Falls girls basketball in final days before district opener

CAPTION: Marble Falls seniors Emma Koziel (5), Tea Rodriguez and the Lady Mustangs are playing championship level defense and are looking for more offense as they finish a challenging pre-district schedule. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro

Few teams attempted to the play the schedule the Marble Falls High School girls basketball team faced during the opening weeks of the 2022-23 season as illustrated by the Lady Mustangs’ 49-21 loss to Glen Rose Dec. 20.

Glen Rose (21-0, District 6-4A) is the Class 4A No. 1 team in the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches Association poll. The game was played a day after the Lady Mustangs (11-8, District 24-4A) lost to Stephenville, which also is in District 6-4A, and is ranked No. 9 in the same poll. Marble Falls also lost to Boerne, which is ranked No. 5.

“We’ve played three teams in the top 10 in 4A,” head coach John Berkman said. “Boerne is as good or better. We made a schedule for the team we’re expected to have. We played those teams because of the team we thought we’d have.”

Glen Rose took an 8-0 lead in the first quarter, a 22-6 lead at the half, and a 40-11 advantage after three quarters.

“They were physical,” Berkman said. “Their physicality bothered us. They’re a physical team, and we didn’t handle it well. We gave up 22 points in the first half, and we felt good about that. They had eight points in the transition that we didn’t get a chance to play defense. They’re No. 1 in the state for a reason.”

He noted the Lady Tigers had a rebounding edge, and the Lady Mustangs must address that.

“We didn’t rebound very well,” he said.

The other challenge is Marble Falls must figure out how to be more offensive, he added. A season-ending injury to senior forward Avie Nail, a foot injury to senior forward Emma Koziel, and an injury to senior forward Lilly Nesrsta has tested the Lady Mustangs’ depth, the coach noted.

Nail was among the most consistent finishers in the line-up thanks to her speed in transition where she often outran defenders for quick baskets.

“We tell our players ‘next man up,'” Berkman said. “We want to get this figured out before we get to district. We’re not winning as many games as we want to. We’re struggling to find a rhythm offensively. We have people playing out of position, and we’ve pulled a junior varsity player. We’re filling the void. I still feel good about what we’re doing. Defensively we’re playing well. “

Marble Falls will play in the Mansfield Independent School District Spring Creek Barbecue Invitational Tournament Wednesday-Friday, Dec. 28-30, and begin bracket play against Cedar Hill at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday. Last year, Marble Falls won the consolation championship after losing two games in District 25-5A play days before the tournament began.

The Lady Mustangs will have several days off before heading to Mansfield, Berkman said, adding the team was ready for the break.

“We’re allowing them to rest,” he said. “They’ll come back with more energy. You’re mentally competing in games. If you can get wins, you feel a lot better.”

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