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Ten Highland Lakes Sports Insights

CAPTION: The Marble Falls Lady Mustangs will win at least a share of the District 24-4A title, their first since the 2018-19 season. File photo

Winter has descended upon the Highland Lakes. The sinus infection I’m fighting is a clear indication. For three days, Mother Nature showed why she’s a force to be reckoned with as squads in every sport were sidelined for an extended period. But when she decided to be a team player and allow contests to resume, fans were treated to some incredible performances that were both empowering and heart breaking. Let’s go through them one by one.

  1. Basketball’s cruelty has been on full display in the boys’ District 24-4A race as buzzer beaters determined the outcome. One week after the Marble Falls Mustangs beat Jarrell thanks to a half-court shot, the Cougars returned the favor to beat the Burnet Bulldogs 44-43 with a 3-pointer Feb. 3. It’s the second time the Bulldogs have suffered a one-point loss thanks to three points. Marble Falls beat them with an old-fashioned 3-point play. As a result, Burnet, Gateway and Marble Falls are currently in a three-way tie for first place at 4-3. Jarrell (3-3) and Lago Vista (2-4) are playing the Jan. 31 game the night of Feb. 6. If the Cougars prevail, there could be a four-way tie for first place with three games remaining in the regular season. On Feb. 7, Burnet hits the road to Lago Vista, travels down U.S. 281 to Marble Falls Feb. 10, and ends the regular season at Lampasas Feb. 14.
  2. Following the 63-54 loss to Lampasas Feb. 2, the Marble Falls Mustangs rebounded with a great win against Lago Vista 68-52 Feb. 3 in a contest that looked as if the Vikings were going to be run out of Max Copeland Gym in the second quarter. That’s when the Mustangs outscored Lago Vista 25-8 for a 39-16 advantage at the half. Credit the Vikings for beginning the third stanza with a 12-3 run to try to get back in it. But the Mustangs showed their depth and mentality in matching their opponents’ scoring with runs of their own. In short, they scored enough to keep the double-digit lead and went 22 for 30 from the free throw line to earn the victory. That was a far cry from what they experienced 24 hours earlier in the road game at Lampasas. The Badgers took a 29-5 lead in the first quarter and kept the advantage throughout the 32 minutes, even when the Mustangs cut the lead to two points. Marble Falls hits the road with crucial games at Gateway Feb. 7, at home against Burnet Feb. 10, and at Jarrell Feb. 14. This district is playing out the way head coach Travis Crain said it would with teams evenly matched and each having a shot at the playoffs until the final game of the regular season. Do yourselves a favor and take the advice of Bette Davis’ from “All About Eve” when thinking about this district.
  3. While most everyone else in girls’ District 24-4A must still play, the Marble Falls Lady Mustangs (6-2) are finished and assured themselves of at least a co-district championship. Lampasas (5-2) must travel to Jarrell to finish the regular season Feb. 7. If the district standings hold, the championship will be split two ways. Then the real fun begins. Officially, Marble Falls and Lampasas are the district co-champs, so the other determination is the seedings. Which one will enter the playoffs as the No. 1 seed? Marble Falls typically prefers to flip a coin to decide that instead of playing the same team three times, especially if there’s a chance the two will meet again at the regional tournament. Don’t laugh. That’s happened with this Marble Falls program throughout the years (Pflugerville Connally and Kerrville Tivy). Coaches were checking the district minutes to determine what happens next since the first tiebreaker — head-to-head finishes — is thrown out thanks to the Lady Badgers beating the Lady Mustangs 52-41 Feb. 2 to split the regular season series at a game each. The Lady Badgers began the contest on an 11-0 run. The district’s No. 1 seed will face China Spring, while the No. 2 seed will meet either Salado or Waco Connally.
  4. The Burnet Lady Dawgs (4-3) also qualified for the playoffs thanks to a dominant 57-28 victory against Jarrell Feb. 3 at The Doghouse. Burnet is third in the district and will face either Salado, which was in the same district with the Lady Dawgs a year ago, or Waco Connally. I must commend the Lady Dawgs for quietly putting together another winning streak that should get to three before the start of the postseason.
  5. The Faith Academy of Marble Falls Flames crushed Waco Reicher 66-36 Feb. 4 to go to 8-1 in District 3-3A play of the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools. It’s a busy week for Faith as basketball plays Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, Feb. 6-7 and 9. Faith travels to Temple Central Texas Christian Monday with the Lady Flames playing at 4:30 p.m. and the boys varsity at 6 p.m. These contests were postponed from Jan. 31 because of weather. The two are back at The Fire Pit Tuesday, Feb. 7, against Bryan Brazos Christian and finish the regular season in home contests against Waco Live Oak Thursday. Tip-off for the home games for the girls is at 6 p.m. and the boys at 7:30 p.m. If the projections hold, the Flames must beat Live Oak to share the district title with them.
  6. The Lady Flames’ District 3-3A is much like the Burnet and Marble Falls boys’ District 24-4A in that it changes with every result. Seedings could come down to the final game in determining who advances and who stays home.
  7. The hottest basketball team in the region is Llano as the Yellow Jackets have extended their winning streak to 11 thanks to beating Brady 56-43 Feb. 4 and Ingram Tom Moore 59-38 Feb. 3. Junior guard Weston Baker is clearly District 5-3A’s player of the year. And he’s not the only Llano weapon. Junior guard Fitz Kennedy and senior forward Coy Kelso are helping to shoulder the scoring burden. And their teammates are also contributing in countless ways that are too long to mention here. The Jackets are looking to finish this the right way with three games remaining beginning with the home contest against Blanco Tuesday, Feb. 7, at 7:30 p.m.
  8. The Llano Lady Jackets also are advancing to the playoffs in what looks to be the district’s fourth place team. The Lady Jackets suffered back-to-back district losses: 47-44 in overtime against Brady Feb. 4 in a game that was supposed to be played Jan. 31, and to Ingram 30-29 Feb. 3 where the Lady Warriors made 10 of 12 free throws in the final stanza and dropped in a total of 19 from the charity stripe. The Lady Jackets are playing defense that gives them a chance in every district game except one. Now it’s about doing the tasks that are best learned by playing, including knowing what to do in the key moments that determine winning and losing such as guards going to get the basketball on a throw-in to start the play and athletes wanting to take the final shot when the game is on the line. That comes with self-confidence that can’t be acquired in practice. It’ll be interesting to see what the results of this season do for the Lady Jackets and the future of the program.
  9. Soccer’s District 25-4A is shaping up to be great for Burnet County as all four teams are in the top two in the standings. To no one’s surprise, the Marble Falls Mustangs and the Burnet Lady Dawgs are first in the district as they set the pace for the sport. They are mirror images of each other in that they are at least two deep in every position and typically when contests don’t go their way, it’s because of something they did to themselves. Both coaches have capped their teams’ scoring no more than eight goals in a contest since they have experienced being on the other end of those types of losses. They are showing the best of Burnet County in every way. The Lady Dawgs host Lago Vista at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 7, while the Mustangs host Florence at 7:30 that night.
  10. Equally impressive have been soccer’s Marble Falls Lady Mustangs and the Burnet Bulldogs. They, too, are very similar in that both have experienced heart-wrenching losses and seasons where their success has had to be measured in other ways besides the win-loss columns. But those lessons are paying off now as they are both in the top two of the district standings and are displaying the heart and fight of this county every time they step on the field. The Lady Mustangs welcome Florence at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 7, while Burnet welcomes Lago Vista at 7 p.m. that same date.

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