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Ten Highland Lakes Sports Insights

CAPTION: Marble Falls junior forward Cooper Cochran and Mustangs will embark on a big week when they travel to Burnet Tuesday, Jan. 24, and return home to face Jarrell Friday, Jan. 27. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro

The second round of district play for area girls basketball teams begins Tuesday, Jan. 24, and each Highland Lakes squad is in prime position to qualify for the 2023 postseason in pursuit of more wins and more trophies. Meanwhile, the boys teams have completed the first half of the first round of district play and area soccer teams will begin their quests for district titles this week. As always, we’re going to start on the hardwood with the area’s most anticipated match-up at a place that’s the most difficult for visiting teams.

  1. District 24-4A eyes will be on The Doghouse at Burnet High School beginning at 6:15 p.m. when Marble Falls travels up U.S. 281 to meet the Lady Dawgs and Bulldogs. And the stakes couldn’t be higher. Since we’re in Texas, we’re going to start with the girls (ladies first, right guys?). In the district opener, the Lady Dawgs visited Max Copeland Gym and earned a 43-29 win Jan. 6. But most will agree the Burnet team welcoming the Lady Mustangs isn’t the same as the one that visited Marble Falls. Junior MaeSyn Gay suffered a season-ending injury during the loss to Lampasas three days after the Marble Falls win, and Burnet suffered through a two-game losing skid at Lampasas and at Jarrell before earning an important home win against Lago Vista Jan. 20. And the Lady Mustangs aren’t the same either. They’re on a three-game winning streak: at Jarrell, at home against Lampasas, and at Lago Vista where senior guard Tea Rodriguez scored her 1,000th career point. The turnaround has been offensive contributions from just about every member of the squad and defensive challenges where each player is determined to win her individual battle. Marble Falls knows the district championship must go through Burnet, the defending the district champion. And the Lady Mustangs know better than anyone they will get the Lady Dawgs’ best, especially at The Doghouse. Can the Lady Mustangs return the favor and earn an important road win to stay a half game ahead of Lampasas? Or will the Lady Dawgs beat the Lady Mustangs and earn the important head-to-head series win that could prove pivotal in the district standings and seedings for the playoffs? We’ll find out Tuesday.
  2. Right after the ladies finish, the boys take the court to face each other for the first time on the hardwood this season. So far this sports year, Burnet has gotten the better of Marble Falls with wins in football, volleyball and even team tennis. The one head-to-head win by the Mustangs was in cross country at the District 24-4A meet. As for basketball, Burnet was the favorite to win the district championship and at 2-1, the Bulldogs are in a four-way tie for first with Georgetown Gateway, Jarrell and Lago Vista 42-28. Meanwhile at 1-2, Marble Falls is in fifth place with important contests this week (the Mustangs welcome Jarrell Friday, Jan. 27). The Mustangs travel to Burnet following the loss to Georgetown Gateway, a team that features players with more height and more arm length than Marble Falls. Still, every coach will say there’s plenty of basketball left to play with the second round of the boys race for the Mustangs beginning at Lampasas Tuesday, Jan. 31. Tip-off at The Doghouse Tuesday, Jan. 24, is at 8 p.m. and the expectation is both teams will bring out the best in each other.
  3. Down the street on RR 1431, the Faith Academy of Marble Falls basketball teams will embark on the final leg of a three-game road trip Tuesday, Jan. 24, when they travel to face Round Rock Christian. The Flames will enter the contest after losing to Waco Live Oak Classical 48-43 in a game featuring two teams ranked in the top 10 of the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools’ Class 3A poll as voted on by members of the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches. The second round of District 3-3A play starts Tuesday and the Flames and Lady Flames are looking to sweep the season series against Round Rock Christian. The girls begin at 6 p.m. and the boys follow.
  4. The Smoking For Jesus boys basketball team lost to Gainesville Red River Home School 60-58 at a tournament Jan. 21 that ended a seven-game winning streak. The Eagles, however, return to district play of the Texas Association of Independent Athletic Organizations and are on track to capture another state title.
  5. The Llano High School basketball teams still have every goal in front of them, especially the Yellow Jackets after a 61-52 win at Blanco. Going into the contest, the Panthers were the favorite to win the District 5-3A championship. Not after what the Jackets did as the visiting team. Now Llano returns home to welcome Florence in a doubleheader with the girls. Despite the Lady Jackets’ 44-15 loss to Blanco, they have a golden opportunity to sweep the season series with Florence at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 24. Then the two teams will hit the road for an important three-game trip that starts at Comfort Friday, Jan. 27. While the Jackets look to remain undefeated in district play, the Lady Jackets are seeking season sweeps against Comfort and Ingram and want to beat Brady on the Lady Dawgs’ home court.
  6. Let’s head to the gridiron and talk some soccer. The Marble Falls Mustangs lost to old District 25-5A rival Liberty Hill 2-1 Jan. 20. The Panthers led 1-0 at the half after scoring on a penalty kick. Marble Falls is 8-3 and will begin District 25-4A play at home against Lago Vista at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 24. This Mustangs team has what it takes to do very well if it can survive a district that includes Austin Achieve, Burnet, Florence, Georgetown Gateway and Jarrell. Then it must get past the bi-district round of the playoffs matched against District 26-4A: Bandera, Boerne, Comal Canyon Lake, Comal Davenport, Fredericksburg, San Antonio Great Hearts Northern Oaks and Wimberley.
  7. The Burnet Lady Dawgs are 10-2-1 after losses to Brownwood 2-1 Jan. 20 and to Wimberley 4-2 Jan. 17. Don’t read anything into the outcomes of those contests. Head coach Kimberly Myhre will have her team ready to play when they travel to face Austin Achieve at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 24, to begin district play. And in case anyone is wondering, Burnet faces Marble Falls Feb. 14 and March 10.
  8. Let’s switch to powerlifting. If you follow me on social media, you may read a retweet regarding the Marble Falls boys and girls teams both winning the team championships at the Lampasas Invitational Jan. 19. Marble Falls has been the talk among area coaches because of its depth in bringing different athletes in various weight classes to compete, and they’re earning points for their individual finishes that are counting toward the team point totals, much like in track and field. And coaches can only bring a total of 12 lifters for the boys and for the girls squads. The results at powerlifting should boost the self-confidence of the lifters and should help their other sports since many of them wear other purple uniforms for Marble Falls.
  9. The Llano Lady Jackets already have an automatic regional qualifier to the regional powerlifting meet in senior Remi Easley, the daughter of former coach Clint Easley, who is now a principal at Llano Independent School District. The younger Easley has gotten stronger and used the results of what happened at the state meet in 2022 as motivation for a better 2023. The Lady Jackets have numerous lifters competing in just about every weight classification offered, so they are very tough to beat.
  10. Let’s end this week’s Insights by handing out some game balls. The first to Marble Falls senior guard Tea Rodriguez for scoring 1,000 career points for the Lady Mustangs during the win at Lago Vista Jan. 17. The program will honor her before the home contest against Jarrell Friday, Jan. 27, at 6:30 p.m. The other to Burnet junior MaeSyn Gay. Most will tell you I’m a big fan. Her positive influence stretches beyond the locker rooms at The Doghouse where she plays volleyball and basketball. She also has a positive impact on athletes in other sports because of her natural talent. Her loss to the basketball team isn’t measured in the scorebook; it’s in the stat sheet where she grabbed rebounds, dished assists and tore the hearts of other teams because of her defense. And just like Rodriguez, Gay helped make everyone around her better.

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