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Lady Cats build winning tradition

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     While the Sulphur Springs Wildcats would like to start the playoffs off with a bang, and a win. They know that what they do now is how they are viewed in the future.


    “We want to win and go past the second round of the playoffs. I would like for Sulphur Springs to be known as a solid basketball program. Where we make the playoffs and do well every year,” said Jeff Chapman, Sulphur Springs head girls basketball coach. “This year we want to win and go as far as we can in the playoffs. We want to establish a tradition.”
    The Lady Cats open the Class 4A basketball playoffs with a bi-district matchup Tuesday at 7 p.m. against Lovejoy at Quinlan High School.
    Chapman said, “We’ve had a good year. The 22 wins are the most we have had and the five lossesare the fewest losses we have had in a season.”
    The Lady Cats come into the playoffs after going 7-3 in district, taking second place behind Texas High.
    “In district we played well in almost every game,” Chapman said. “We had the bad game with Pine Tree (a 58-45 loss), but we were in the two games with Texas High. The first game here, we just lost by one point. Our desire all year has been to get better.”
    Chapman said he is unsure how the Lady Cats will matchup with Lovejoy and has not seen the Lady Leopards play in person.
    Lovejoy is the third place team from District 13-4A. They are 15-12 overall and went 10-4 in district.
    The team averages 46.5 points and 24.8 rebounds per game. They have 201 steals for the year. Top scorer is 5-11 senior guard Shani Rainey with an 18.8 point per game average, she also is the top rebounder at 8.8 boards per game.. Junior guard, Samantha Odom averages 9.4 points and 4.6 rebounds a game.  Paige Eberhart leads the team with 29, 3-pointers. She averages 6.8 points and 1.6 rebounds as a junior guard. Senior 6-2 post player Stefanie Lewerenz averages 6.0 points, 4.3 rebounds a game.
    “I understand Lovejoy is better on the half court set off than on the fast break,” Chapman said. “They have some height with the 6-2 girl. The 5-11 player (Rainey) is also a good ball-handler and they use her against the press.”
    Chapman said, “We’ve got to come into the game thinking we are going to win. Our record shows we are as good as everybody else. We’ve got to feel good about what we can do. How we play depends of how many people are playing well that night. We need to all get involved and contribute.”
    The Lady Cats have been led all year by junior point guard Desi Debase. She averages 22.5 points, 4.9 assists and 4.7 steals a game. Senior 6-1 post/forward Destiny Wade is averaging 12.3 points and 8.8 rebounds a game. Shakoja Debase leads the team with 45 3-pointers, she averages 7.8 points and 4.2 rebounds. Kasey Moore, also a 6-1 inside player, is scoring 4.1 points a game, pulling down an average of 6.4 rebounds per game. Chrissalynd Person is contributing 2.6 points, 1.4 rebounds a game. As a team the  Lady Cats are averaging 54 points a game. They have 363 steals and 494 deflections as a team.
    “When we are all playing well and scoring, we are pretty good,” Chapman said. “We need to get the inside game going with Wade and Moore, while Desi, Chrissalynd and Shakoja are scoring well from the outside.”
    Chapman said he opted not to play a warm-up game this year with his team taking the court Tuesday having not played since Feb. 4.
    “Last year the warm-up game took a lot out of us,” Chapman said. “Then in the playoff game, we ran out of gas. I want us to be ready,  but rested. Our practices this time of year are not as long. You can practice too much. We are all healthy and well. I just don’t know how we will come out.  I just don’t have a feel for it yet watching the girls in practice.”
    One thing the Lady Cats keep as a constant is their emphasis on defense. In district the team allowed just 37.2 points per game, in three contest the opponent did not score 30 points.
    “We try to make defense a mainstay for us,” Chapman said. “We try to take away what the other team wants to do by using a 1/2 court trap and a tight 2-3. We have pressed during the year and we might use that against Lovejoy. On defense you have to figure out who to stop. Defense keeps you in the game. If you are playing good defense you have a chance, I have learned that in 25 years of coaching.”
    Chapman has discovered that with this team, the points will come even if they are not from a set offense.
    “We get points off steals and run outs,” Chapman said. “We score off the other team’s mistakes. We don’t have to be in a half court set. Teams have tried to get us to play slow and walk the ball up. But we do what we do. We like playing at a faster pace.”
    Things can change in the playoffs, especially against unfamiliar foes.

 

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