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Ten Highland Lakes Sports Insights

CAPTION: The Marble Falls Independent School District celebrates the 75th birthday of super fan Jimmy Burney during halftime of the Mustangs’ win against Burnet Feb. 10. Interim Superintendent Jeff Gasaway (right) presents a cake to Burney, while MFISD Board of Trustee Larry Berkman (left) takes Burney’s old jacket so officials can give him a new one. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro

The most wonderful time of the basketball season begins Monday, Feb. 13. That’s when the playoffs for members of the University Interscholastic League start. The ladies begin their quest for a state title, while the gentlemen have one more regular season game remaining. It’s been a whirlwind of activity since we last communicated and things are getting clearer each day. So let’s get started with the game that drew Burnet County residents.

  1. Marble Falls’ Max Copeland Gym was packed to capacity Feb. 10 for the showdown for first place in District 24-4A between the Mustangs and the Burnet Bulldogs. Marble Falls played like a team that was fighting for its season. And given the results of the other two games and the Mustangs having to finish the regular season on the road at Jarrell, they did themselves a favor by beating the Bulldogs 51-31 and winning at least a share of the district crown and earning one of the playoff spots. Credit the Mustangs for an incredible performance where head coach Travis Crain used a six-player rotation for 32 minutes. The players have to be in great physical and mental shape to perform at a high level to be successful. The confidence from these Mustangs is apparent in the way they step on the floor. They trust and believe in each other and each Mustang is committed to being a positive force for the team. It also helps that Crain and his coaches love the sport, study the sport, play the sport and talk about the sport. They game plan and scheme for each opponent in different ways and the players commit themselves to finding ways to put themselves in positions to be successful.
  2. It’s been a tough district campaign for the Bulldogs. Headed into the contest against the Mustangs, Burnet had suffered three district losses that all totaled four points: a 49-48 setback to Marble Falls Jan. 27 and losses to Jarrell 45-43 and 44-43. With the 51-31 loss to the Mustangs in the rematch, Burnet is faced with a must-win scenario at Lampasas Tuesday. Since Marble Falls has a sixth win, it has one of the four playoff berths. Burnet, Lampasas and Georgetown Gateway are 5-4 going into Tuesday, and Jarrell is 4-5. Gateway’s last two regular season games — against Jarrell and Lago Vista — forced the Gators to play the bottom opponents in the standings. Gateway already took care of Jarrell 50-44 Feb. 10 and will look to do the same against the Vikings for its sixth win. If Lampasas beats Burnet, it will get a sixth win. And that leaves the Bulldogs and Jarrell for the last spot. If the Cougars beat Marble Falls and the Bulldogs lose to the Badgers, Burnet and Jarrell are tied for fourth at 5-5. But the Cougars beat the Bulldogs twice during the regular season. Typically the first tiebreaker are the head-to-head results. In this case, Jarrell swept the season series and should get the nod to advance. Burnet has already beaten Lampasas once 55-45. And this is a battle-tested team. The Bulldogs will be ready for the Badgers.
  3. Feb. 10 was a tough night for many hoops fans wearing Kelly green. The Burnet girls basketball team lost a seeding game to Lampasas 41-36, which means the Lady Badgers enter the playoffs as the district’s No. 2 seed and will face Salado. Burnet, meanwhile, enters at the No. 3 seed and will play Waco Connally at 7 p.m. Monday, Feb. 13, at Killeen High School, 500 North 38th St. The reason why Burnet played Lampasas for the second seed is because district minutes stipulate that if there’s a tie, a game must be played to decide it. It also helped the Lady Badgers have a full roster ready for the postseason, too.
  4. Going into the week, the Marble Falls Lady Mustangs knew they had secured at least a share of the district title with Lampasas, assuming the Lady Badgers beat Jarrell. That didn’t happen as the Lady Cougars took advantage of opportunities presented during the game that limited Lampasas’ rotations to earn a 57-50 victory. That gave the Lady Mustangs their first outright district title since the 2007-2008 season that ended in the regional final. Marble Falls will discover plenty about itself as it competes in Class 4A Region III, commonly called the Houston region. It starts Monday against China Spring at 6:30 p.m. at Copperas Cove High School. Note the Copperas Cove High will only accept cash at the gate. Adults pay $5, while students pay 3. Law enforcement from the city of Marble Falls and Burnet County will escort the team bus that leaves the high school at 3:15 p.m. and will turn right to travel down 1431 West and turn right onto U.S. 281 North. Fans can line safely line up along the route to send the Lady Mustangs out in style.
  5. The Faith Academy of Marble Falls Flames finished the regular season with their fourth consecutive district crown and were more than impressive in their 73-53 thrashing of Waco Live Oak in a battle of two top 10 teams in Class 3A of the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools. Senior power forward Brock Davis is in a category by himself as the most dominant player in his position in the area. His 38 points make him the favorite to be named the player of the year. But his scoring isn’t the only reason. He also defends the rim well by blocking shots and cutting off paths to the basket and can set up his teammates for their shots, too. The Flames will begin the playoffs Tuesday, Feb. 14, in their own gym, The Fire Pit, where they look to make the opponent as uncomfortable as Live Oak. This Faith team has the intangibles to have a historical march. Let’s see how far they can go.
  6. Congratulations to the Lady Flames basketball team for beating Houston Northland Christian 37-35 Feb. 11 in the first round of the playoffs thanks to making a shot at the horn. The Lady Flames have been on the other end of many of those games throughout the season, so I’m especially happy the ball finally fell in for them. They will travel to face Rosehill Christian in Tomball at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 14.
  7. The Llano Yellow Jackets continue their pursuit of winning the District 5-3A basketball championship thanks to a 75-37 win at Florence Feb. 11. The Jackets come back home to finish out the regular season against Comfort Tuesday, Feb. 14, at 7:15 p.m. If the Jackets can win that game, they will capture the district championship outright for the first time in more than three decades.
  8. The Lady Jackets basketball team might have the toughest bi-district opponent in the Highland Lakes. Llano is traveling to face Jim Ned at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 13, at Hardin Simmons Coliseum in Brownwood. But no matter the outcome, fans can see so many positives from this squad. The biggest is their fight. Case in point is the 1-4 record they had in the second round of district play. Three of those losses were by a total of nine points with one of them in overtime (at Brady 47-44 Saturday, Feb. 4 in a contest played on that date because of bad weather) a day after returning from a long road trip to Ingram that resulted in a 30-29 setback. The fans believe this program has turned a corner in terms of not quitting. So no matter what happens against Jim Ned, I’ll be shocked if anyone says Llano didn’t compete for 32 minutes. That’s the difference between losing and running out of time.
  9. It’s another big week on the pitch with Burnet and Marble Falls playing each other Tuesday, Feb. 14, and all four teams are looking to either move to the top of the District 25-4A standings or stay there. The boys will be at Mustang Stadium, while the girls are at Bulldog Field. The Lady Dawgs are 5-0 and I believe the Lady Mustangs are, too, after thrashing Jarrell 7-0 Feb. 10. Meanwhile, the Mustangs are 4-0, while the Bulldogs are 3-1. Marble Falls Mustangs head coach Rick Hoover is looking forward to this contest because it’s the first time the varsity will face Burnet in the number of years he’s been at the helm. The subvarsities have met but not the varsities. Both matches begin at 7 p.m.
  10. The Marble Falls Mustangs powerlifting squad added another team win, this one from the Brady Invitational Feb. 9. That’s four consecutive wins for the Mustangs, who’ve won every single meet they’ve been apart of. Congrats Mustangs!
  11. Golf season resumed and the Marble Falls boys are worth paying attention to. The Mustangs gold team tied for first at the Lampasas Invitational paced by Coby Holley, who took second in the individual standings. There’s plenty of greatness with these Mustangs, who are looking to advance out of the district tournament into regionals as a team this season, something that didn’t happen last season. It’s going to be a fun spring.

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