Yantis seniors looking for playoff run
Joseph Elerson | News-Telegram Sports Writer

Dec. 15, 2005 - YANTIS - For seniors Starla Burchfield, Stacy Ponder and Christina Bean, a runner-up finish at the Yantis Invitational Tournament was bittersweet, but a playoff appearance would be the icing on the cake for their senior year.

"It was hard and it was our senior year and our last chance to do anything like this and it is hard to try and not make it," said Bean. "I know we will do a lot better than we did last year because we have a lot better defense with the freshman that we got, and I think we have a really good chance of making it to the playoffs if we play to our potential."

Bean is the daughter of Lisa and Micky Bean and is a three-year varsity member for the Lady Owls and plans on attending Sam Houston State University to become a forensic scientist.

A 43-22 homecoming win over East Texas Christian Academy last Friday night was one of the early highlights for all three of the seniors and especially for Bean.

"That was one of the things that we said when we got off of the court and got together was 'Guys, we won our last homecoming game ever.' It was incredible and felt so good to win that game and that was our second one in a row against that team," she said.

Burchfield, the daughter of Ricky and Lisa Burchfield, said being the runner-up of their tournament and then winning homecoming two years in a row has this team heading in the right direction.

"It was great and we won homecoming last year and this year. It felt really good to be a senior and to win your final homecoming especially by such a big margin," she said.

Burchfield has plans on attending either Texas Christian University or Stephen F. Austin University with hopes of becoming a physical therapist.

She said being a member of the Lady Owls for four years and playing with these seniors ever since third grade has been a blast and something she will always remember.

"I have played with them ever since third grade and little dribblers and they are my best friends and I love starting with them every game and I wouldn't trade it for anything," said Burchfield.

Ponder has played on the varsity squad for three year and is the daughter of Angela Earl, and said she hopes on attending Texas A & M-Commerce and working in the equine field.

She said with the second-place finish at the tournament and the homecoming win, the team is starting to play good basketball.

"I was pretty happy with that second place, but we really wanted to win first place and that was a really hard team," she said. "It is really early in the year and I think we did pretty good with our team being so young and starting to come together. It felt really important to win homecoming. I was apart of the homecoming court, and it was our last homecoming and we wanted to win."

Ponder said with the experience these seniors have had with one another they are starting to understand each other and their camaraderie is definitely shows on the court.

"We play a lot better this year and the seniors that are playing this year  get along real well. When we do get mad at each other we understand it is just a game, and we have a lot of fun," she said.

The final two seniors on the team are Sarah Collins and Esther Fernandez and Bean said all of the seniors have a certain role during the game.

"Sarah has been our main scorer and she will move to the point when Jamie (Gilliland) needs a break and she contributes a lot to the team," she said. "Sarah is big on keeping the ball and scoring and Esther is good at the defense and me, Starla and Stacy are there to pick up as many rebounds as we can and score on them if they are there."

Senior leadership is another area this group works hard at and they each take a different role with it during practices and game situations.

"We pretty much lead everything and the younger girls respect us and we try to be leaders on the court and be coachable and we want to be a good example to the younger girls," Burchfield said.

Ponder said she tries to make sure the team hustles during the game and helps them when they mess up during a game.

"We try to encourage them when they mess up and when they are not hustling hard we get on to them because if you don't hustle then you don't get to play and we encourage them," she added.

Bean said she helps with making sure everyone knows how to work the offensive and defensive sets during the game.

"When we are on the court I will try and help the girls if they don't know how to run a play," she said. "One day in the locker room before a game we were going to run a certain defense and a freshman girl came up to me and said, 'I don't know how to run this defense,' and I got a piece of paper and wrote it out real quick and she was able to run it during the game."

With about two months left in the season, Bean said when the final buzzer sounds it will be tough, but it will be worth it no matter where they end this season.

"Going to the playoffs is our goal and this season is incredible and I love playing with these girls," she said. "It is going to be really sad when it is over because it will be the last time that we play together."

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