The Marble Falls High School girls basketball team welcomes Caldwell at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 17, to its Max Copeland Gym.
The contest is an area round playoff game with the winner facing the winner of the Waco La Vega-Houston Yates game that is being played Thursday, Feb. 16. The regional quarterfinal match-up featuring the two winners will be played next week.
Members of the Lady Mustangs coaching staff attended Caldwell’s 53-33 win against Wheatley Feb. 14. The Caldwell coaches and the Marble Falls coaches met soon after that to discuss the specifics of the second round game.
Lady Mustangs head coach John Berkman didn’t offer more.
“Good negotiations,” he said with a smile. “I’ll put it that way.”
But what he did offer was why the Lady Mustangs wanted to play at home, noting a unified fan base decked out in purple and gold cheering loudly is empowering to his players and an obstacle for opponents.
“It gets crazy loud,” he said.
Berkman would know. The last time his squad hosted a postseason contest was when Austin High visited in the regional quarterfinals in 2018. The Lady Maroons had many intangibles that compelled observers to pencil them in at the Class 5A Region IV tournament. And all they had to do was beat Marble Falls in The Max.
Instead, Austin High walked into a facility filled to capacity with fans dressed in purple and gold sitting in stands on both sidelines. And the fans were eager to be heard, too. Berkman believes they offered the ultimate assist in Marble Falls prevailing 62-45.
“Our gym is a tough place to play when it’s full,” he said. “They are a sixth man for us, no doubt. They give energy to our players. That’s what the home gym can do for us.”
He recently saw it again when the Burnet High School boys basketball team arrived Feb. 10 for a second-round District 24-4A contest. Mustangs head coach Travis Crain used social media to explain the importance of a packed Max Copeland Gym to the Mustang faithful. And fans responded with their attendance and voices.
Berkman believes they are one big reason for the Mustangs 51-31 victory that ensured Marble Falls earned a share of the district crown.
“I felt like our boys team had that when they played at home,” he said. “It was huge.”
Tickets for the playoff game will be made available online and Berkman was researching whether fans’ gold cards can be used. He wasn’t sure because this is a playoff contest.
In addition, the scoreboards — which were not in operation for the Mustangs’ win against the Bulldogs — have been fixed and will be ready for the Lady Mustangs.
During that win against Austin High in 2018, fans took every seat, stood on every square inch of baselines, and crowded near the glass windows of the foyer to witness one of the best games played in the Max since the facility was constructed. It’s still one of Berkman’s fondest memories as the head coach.
“A home playoff game is always exciting,” he said. “We’re excited to be hosting.”
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