CAPTION: Marble Falls senior guards Alyssa Berkman (left) and Tea Rodriguez and sophomore post Kylie Roberts guard the basket against Waco La Vega. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro
The Marble Falls High School girls basketball team lost to Waco La Vega 61-31 Feb. 20 in the regional quarterfinals to end the 2022-23 season.
These Lady Mustangs (21-12, 6-2 District 24-4A champions) carved their own names in the program’s history. They won the first outright district title since the 2007-08 team and won two playoff games in the same season for the first time since the 2017-18 season.
Going into the district play, they were considered the favorites to win it and did just that while every district opponent didn’t back down either.
“We took it from them,” head coach John Berkman said. “We did exactly what we set out to do. Everybody is giving you their best shot every night. They took everybody’s best every night. I’m extremely proud.”
La Vega, ranked No. 3 in the Class 4A poll by voters of the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches, raced to an 18-4 lead in the first quarter thanks to a full-court press that didn’t allow the Lady Mustangs to dribble or pass. In short, the Lady Hornets’ quickness to the ball led to quick transition baskets.
It was much of the same in the second stanza where La Vega built a 40-18 lead at the intermission.
To illustrate La Vega’s defense consider this: Marble Falls scored only one 2-pointer and one 3-pointer in 16 minutes of play and were 13 for 18 from the foul line.
Meanwhile, the Lady Hornets dropped in 14 2-pointers, three 3-pointers and were 3 for 4 from the foul line.
La Vega outscored Marble Falls 9-4 in the third and 14-11 in the fourth quarter.
“They were extremely fast and aggressive,” Berkman said. “They capitalized on our mistakes. They played fast and got after it for sure.”
Marble Falls senior guard Tea Rodriguez led with 17 points followed by senior guard Alyssa Berkman with eight thanks to making 6 of 8 free throws. Senior forward Emma Koziel and senior post Emma Bindseil each scored four, and junior center Lexie Edwards finished with two.
When the younger Berkman exited the game, she hugged her dad and couldn’t contain the emotion of the moment.
“As a coach you only get to coach your own kids for so long,” the elder Berkman said. “Alyssa is a special player. She does what she’s asked, she’s tough as nails. As a dad, it’s extremely hard. As a coach, it’s hard to lose this group of seniors.”
He noted they began playing together in the fifth grade and competed in what most believe to be the toughest district in the state in 25-5A. This class qualified for the playoffs in 2019-20 after finishing as the district runner-up, in 2021-22 as the fourth place team where only a a 3-pointer at the horn by New Braunfels Canyon ended their season in a bi-district championship, and this year.
The coach pointed out this class “put in the time and effort” to be the best they could and commended the players and their families for that commitment.
“I’m really proud of their efforts and really proud of the season they put together,” he said. “It’s a testament to the work they put in as seniors. They all played so well together. You only get to put a team like this together only so often. They have nothing but heart. They’re extremely talented, but you can’t coach heart. They were in it for each other the whole game.”
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