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Girls basketball teams have high expectations in new season

by From Staff Reports | November 11, 2021 at 10:00 p.m.

TEXARKANA -- With new faces coaching a pair of the local girls basketball programs, all four of the city teams have high expectations on the hardwood in the new season.

Shonda Wilson and Dulincia Keener return at the helms of Texas High and Arkansas High, respectively. Liberty-Eylau has Taqoya Monds taking over the Lady Leopards, and Pleasant Grove has turned the reins over to Codi Davidson.

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TEXAS HIGH

Coach Wilson brings back five varsity lettermen, including four starters, from last year's team that finished third in District 15-5A.

"With those five coming back, we have a few who have been playing since their freshman year," Coach Wilson said. "We're looking towards those girls to be the leaders of this team. We'll have some young players, as well, this season.

We'll have a couple of freshmen and sophomores, and I think they'll do well. We just need to get games under our belts. Once we start playing, we can see what we need to do and make adjustments."

While the Lady Tigers have been running-and-gunning, which they will still do this winter, they are also working on strengthening their half court game.

"I want us to be able to play better in the half court; we transition well, but we want to get better in the half court because, eventually, some teams will make you play that slow down game," Wilson said. "So we've been focusing on getting better in that aspect and working on being more consistent with our shooting."

"Our expectations are as they always are: we want to win a district championship, make the playoffs and go as far as we can go in the postseason. We know we have to play one game at a time and improve every game. We're fairly young, but I've got hungry young players."

The seniors are providing solid leadership in practice and on the court for the Tigers.

"Those experienced players are helping us, as coaches, with leadership roles, helping the younger players and handling their business on and off the court," Wilson said. "I can't complain where we are to start the year."

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ARKANSAS HIGH

The Lady Backs are poised to get back into playoff contention this season after missing the postseason a year ago with a 4-10 record.

"The main goal we have set for the season is just for the girls to have no regrets," Keener said. "We also want to be the best rebounding team out there. We want to be the strongest team and make sure we are giving our all in every game."

Arkansas High has shown some greater attributes in some areas of the game, while it tries to improve and work on the areas that need more attention.

"The best thing about the team is their positivity," Keener said. "They are bought-in and they want to be coached. Instead of seeing my coaching as me fussing at them, they want me to tell them when they are doing wrong. They have kept that as a positive as opposed to seeing it as me just wanting to nag.

"We want to continue to work on capitalizing on our offense. We have to get stronger in that area in capitalizing on when we take our shots, what look we make and making reads off the defense; those are the things that we have to get better with each day."

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PLEASANT GROVE

Davidson is in her first head coaching job with the Lady Hawks, who are looking to improve upon a 2-16 and 0-10 District 15-4A record from last season.

Pleasant Grove has 11 players on the roster, nine of which return to the team from last year.

"Our goals are to be able to compete with everyone that we play, to give them a good game every single time (all four quarters), that is what we are going for this year," Davidson said. "Wins will be nice, but we have a young team. They are still learning a lot."

One of the best positives of the team is their work ethic.

"The girls work really, really hard," Davidson said. "In practice and in games, they give it all they've got. I can do a lot with kids who work hard and give me effort. We are a little bit smaller, which hurts us in the post game but we are able to run fast on the floor. The kids enjoy it and it's better to watch too."

Coach Davidson expects stiff competition from the Hawks' district rivals, which is the greatest hurdle for Pleasant Grove this season.

"District is going to be challenging," she said. "Paris and Gilmer will give us some trouble. Liberty-Eylau also competes hard and that game is always a high-energy game. The girls are very coachable.

"It was hard for me at first because I had to get the girls to change a little to my way of doing things and my terminology. They didn't fight me on it, but it was a little difficult at first. Now that they've bought in, we'll be good. They will do great things."

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LIBERTY-EYLAU

The Lady Leopards aim to improve on last season's second place finish in District 15-4A.

Liberty-Eylau brings back seven varsity players, including four starters.

"We have five seniors in the varsity program this year so our vocal leadership and accountability is awesome," Monds said. "Our seniors do a good job of each stepping up at different times to motivate and encourage our team to put forth their best effort at all times.

"The strength of the Lady Leopard program has always been speed and that will not change. Traditionally, the majority of the offense has stemmed from the ability to apply full-court pressure, and generating offense off the press. I'm not changing that, hoping to capitalize on our defense to feed our offense, but I also want our girls to be able to execute in the half-court. Eventually, we will come across teams that will be able to run with us, and we'll need to be able to play effectively in our half-court sets."

L-E is seeking to develop it's areas it needs growth in to become a more complete team by the time district play comes in January.

"This year our goal was to challenge ourselves as much as possible to expose our areas of weakness in hopes that we might be able to perfect those areas before starting district play," Monds said. "We know that we need to develop into a team that can consistently shoot outside, as well as, handle the ball under pressure. We also know that we need to be able to execute offensively in a half court set, playing slower and more controlled. We tried to schedule games that would force us to face those things.

"Our team's expectations will always and forever be to make it to the big house. We have an extremely talented team this year. Anything is possible with these young ladies, as long as they consistently work hard and believe in themselves and each other."

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2021-22 Girls Basketball Schedules

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LADY TIGERS

Date=Site-Opponent=Time

Nov. 12=Kilgore=4:30 p.m.

Nov. 16=at Paris=4 p.m.

Nov. 18-20=Hot Springs Classic=TBA

Nov. 22=at Princeton=Noon

Nov. 23=at Terrell=Noon

Nov. 30=El Dorado=5 p.m.

Dec. 2-4=Winnsboro Tournament=TBA

Dec. 7=Ashdown=5 p.m.

Dec. 9-11=Great East Texas Shootout=TBA

Dec. 14=x-Pine Tree=5 p.m.

Dec. 17=x-at Sulphur Springs=5 p.m.

Dec. 21=x-Hallsville=3 p.m.

Jan. 4=x-at Longview=5 p.m.

Jan. 7=x-Mount Pleasant=5 p.m.

Jan. 14=x-at Marshall=5 p.m.

Jan. 18=x-at Pine Tree=5 p.m.

Jan. 21=x-Sulphur Springs=5 p.m.

Jan. 25=x-at Hallsville=5 p.m.

Jan. 28=x-Longview=5 p.m.

Feb. 1=x-at Mount Pleasant=5 p.m.

Feb. 8=x-Marshall=5 p.m.

x-District 15-5A game.

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LADY BACKS

Date=Site-Opponent=Time

Nov. 16=y-Junction City=5 p.m.

Nov. 18=Foreman=5 p.m.

Nov. 22=y-Spring Hill=5 p.m.

Nov. 29=Prescott=4:30 p.m.

Dec. 4-11=Harmony Grove Tournament=TBA

Dec. 13=Nevada=5 p.m.

Dec. 28-30=Lafayette County Tournament=TBA

Jan. 7=x-White Hall=5 p.m.

Jan. 11=x-at Hot Springs=5 p.m.

Jan. 14=x-Sheridan=5 p.m.

Jan. 18=x-at El Dorado=5 p.m.

Jan. 21=x-Lakeside=5 p.m.

Jan. 25=x-at Lake Hamilton=5 p.m.

Jan. 28=x-at Pine Bluff=5 p.m.

Feb. 1=x-at White Hall=5 p.m.

Feb. 4=x-Hot Springs=5 p.m.

Feb. 8=x-at Sheridan=5 p.m.

Feb. 11=x-El Dorado=5 p.m.

Feb. 15=x-at Lakeside=5 p.m.

Feb. 18=x-Lake Hamilton=5 p.m.

Feb. 22=x-Pine Bluff=5 p.m.

y-Arkansas Middle School Gym (other home games at Razorback Gym). x-Conference 6A/5A-South games.

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LADY HAWKS

Date=Site-Opponent=Time

Nov. 12=Queen City=5 p.m.

Nov. 16=Mount Pleasant=5 p.m.

Nov. 19=DeKalb=5 p.m.

Nov. 30=at New Boston=5 p.m.

Dec. 2-4=Winnsboro Tournament=TBA

Dec. 7=at Hawkins=5 p.m.

Dec. 9-11=Gunslinger Tournament=TBA

Dec. 16=Idabel=4:30 p.m.

Dec. 20=Longview=Noon

Dec. 21=at Trinity=1 p.m.

Dec. 27-29=Hallsville Tournament=TBA

Dec. 31=Hooks=9 a.m.

Jan. 4=x-at Paris=5 p.m.

Jan. 7=x-at Pittsburg=5 p.m.

Jan. 11=x-at Liberty-Eylau=5 p.m.

Jan. 14=x-North Lamar=5 p.m.

Jan. 18=x-at Gilmer=5 p.m.

Jan. 21=x-Paris=5 p.m.

Jan. 25=x-Pittsburg=5 p.m.

Jan. 28=x-Liberty-Eylau=5 p.m.

Feb. 1=x-at North Lamar=5 p.m.

Feb. 4=x-Gilmer=5 p.m.

x-District 15-4A game.

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LADY LEOPARDS

Date=Site-Opponent=Time

Nov. 12=at Edgewood=5 p.m.

Nov. 16=Lancaster=4 p.m.

Nov. 18-20=Saltillo Tournament=TBA

Nov. 22=at Greenville=Noon

Nov. 23=at Sulphur Springs=11:30 a.m.

Dec. 2-4=Winnsboro Tournament=TBA

Dec. 7=Idabel, Okla.=5 p.m.

Dec. 9-11=Gunslinger Tournament=TBA

Dec. 14=Winnsboro=5 p.m.

Dec. 20=El Dorado=1 p.m.

Dec. 28-30=Spring Creek Invitational=TBA

Jan. 4=x-Gilmer=5 p.m.

Jan. 7=x-at North Lamar=5 p.m.

Jan. 11=x-Pleasant Grove=5 p.m.

Jan. 14=x-at Paris=5 p.m.

Jan. 18=x-at Pittsburg=5 p.m.

Jan. 21=x-at Gilmer=5 p.m.

Jan. 25=x-North Lamar=5 p.m.

Jan. 28=x-at Pleasant Grove=5 p.m.

Feb. 1=x-Paris=5 p.m.

Feb. 4=x-Pittsburg=5 p.m.

x-District 15-4A game.

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