|Lady Lions strive to become a clenched fist|
|Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor|
Dec. 7, 2006 - SALTILLO - When Saltillo girls basketball coach Garry Davison holds up a clenched fist, he gets his point across.
He's not threatening the Lady Lions. Instead, he's describing them.
With two new starters having moved in this year, Davison said the team was playing early in the year like an open hand. He wanted them to come together into a fist.
Since then, the Lady Lions have won the Prairiland tournament and compiled a record of 9-1. Their only loss was to Sam Rayburn.
"At the end of our tournament and against McLeod, I told the girls that I could see the fist closing a little bit. I saw a little bit of it again against Como-Pickton (on Tuesday)," Davison said. "I liked it because we were pushed, and I saw my kids come together, play together and work to get it done together. That was good for me.
"We're getting really close to a closed fist."
"It gave us more depth having them come in," said Roberts, who shared the District 20-A MVP award with teammate Winter Stevens last season. "We were having to play with five players last year and nobody got any breaks, so it was hard. Now, we've got some depth on our team and we can sub and play harder."
Davison gives a lot of credit for the team achieving the way it has so far to the two girls, Jessica Gilbreath and Cara Geerts, who started last year but have accepted their roles off the bench this season.
"If those girls had not accepted the roles that I thought would benefit us and benefit the team, we might have ever got there," Davison explained. "Those kids have shown a lot of character, and just to see that they didn't let that get to them is something a coach loves. Jessica Gilbreath and Cara Geerts took that attitude and took it to heart, and that's made our team better."
It allowed him to start Rogers and Methe.
Rogers and Roberts are the team's only two seniors, and they both moved into the district in the last three years.
"Here, our kids pretty much accept you, and as long as you're part of us and do your part, the kids will pretty much accept you for who you are and what you do," Davison said. "That's good about our kids."
Roberts came to Saltillo from Avinger as a sophomore. She was the Newcomer of the Year as a freshman, Offensive MVP as a sophomore and Co-MVP of the district as a junior. She also qualified for state in the high jump as a sophomore.
She's an All-District softball player and is involved in one-act play and her youth group of Life Fellowship Church in Mount Vernon.
"Chloe has just been a joy," Davison said. "She's a point guard, she sees the floor and makes sure everyone gets the ball if they're open. She's a leader on the floor.
"Chloe makes sure everyone gets involved - to a fault sometimes because I still need her to score. She does a great job for us."
Rogers, meanwhile, moved from Van Alstyne, and became involved in the school and community immediately. She's part of the FCCLA, Beta Club, class treasurer and Life Fellowship youth group.
"We get along great as a team," she said. "We've had different team parties and we're around each other a lot. I love it here. It's great."
Both girls spoke of the team's ultimate goal - to get to the UIL State Tournament in Austin. But, they would first have to get through Kennard, the defending Class A, Div. II state champion that is also in Saltillo's region.
"We wouldn't have set that goal if we didn't think we could do it," Rogers said. "We focus every day individually like it's the only game we have. We don't look back on our record, we just try to focus on what's ahead of us.
"Our best thing is our competitive nature. We're very driven, we're very aggressive, and we always compete."
Davison, though, said there are more immediate goals head of the Lady Lions - like winning the District 22-A championship. That will be no cake walk with the likes of Campbell and Dodd City in the district.
The Lady Lions are in the only eight-team district in the region, meaning they will start district play next week. They will play three 22-A games before the Christmas break, while most districts won't start play until January.
"Your No. 1 goal should be winning your district," Davison said. "I think you have to build in increments, and our No. 1 goal every year is we want a district championship. This year is a little tougher, and if we win our district that puts us in a bracket where we have to face the defending state champion in the regional quarters.
"But, we still want to win a district championship. We believe if you win a championship, it makes it easier to win the next one and the next one."
To get there, the girls know what will have to happen.
"We try to be a fist - we try to play as a team," Roberts said. 'We gradually are getting better and better each game that we play together.
"That's coach's main thing," she added as she made a fist, "playing like this."