|Area playoffs featuring SB girls, Saltillo and North Hopkins boys|
|Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor|
Feb. 27, 2004 -- While the Sulphur Bluff girls go deeper into the playoffs, the Saltillo and North Hopkins boys will be getting their feet wet starting tonight.
North Hopkins and Saltillo both open the UIL playoffs this evening with bi-district contests.
North Hopkins (20-11) takes on McLeod at 8 p.m. in Mount Pleasant as part of a doubleheader that will also feature Campbell vs. Avery in the opening game at 6:30 p.m.
Saltillo (15-12), meanwhile, will open the playoffs against Roxton at 7 p.m. at Paris Junior College.
The Sulphur Bluff girls have advanced to the Class 1A, Division II, Region III semifinals, where they take on Priddy at 7:30 p.m. in the Ellis County town of Avalon.
The Panthers go into the game with the No. 1 seed in District 19-1A, Division I and a warm-up game victory on Saturday over Dallas Life Charter.
They have relied much of the season on senior Michael James (17 points, 13 rebounds per game), William Johnson and underclassmen Zack Horne, Kevin Campbell, Cory Johnson and Brandon Glosup.
They will have to contain an athletic McLeod squad (16-11) that is led in scoring by a freshmen Devin Washington at almost 19 points and five steals per game. They also have a pair of seniors in Jaylon Stevens and Mickey Whatley, who both average double-digits scoring.
McLeod finished as the runner-up in District 20-1A and lost their warm-up game Saturday to Tolar, but they are averaging about 58 points per game this season.
Roxton swept through District 19-1A, Division II unbeaten, using their athletic ability and strong backcourt to win the district championship.
"We'll have to play very well and execute," said Saltillo coach Joe Thomas. "We have to play smart."
With a starting five of leading scorer Colin Garmon (6-6 senior post), Micah Payne, Miles Payne, Micha Carr and Royse Emerson, the Lions (15-12) finished as co-champs of 20-1A and enter the playoffs as the second seed.
"We've got to make sure we have our energy for four quarters," said Coach Thomas. "Every game could be your last, so you've got to play like it."
Sulphur Bluff made its debut in the Top 20 poll this week at No. 17 in Class 1A, Division I. They have already knocked off a pair of ranked teams in No. 13 Dodd City and No. 20 Henrietta Midway.
They will face their toughest challenge to date in Priddy, the No. 6 team in the state.
Coach Tim Lane will go with a starting lineup of senior Zandra Messick and underclassmen Jennifer McDonald, Ashley Pettit, Jill Jaggers and Tara Williams.