|Wildcats expect district season to be battle every night|
|Joseph Elerson | News-Telegram Sports Writer|
Jan. 12, 2006 - The games really start to count for the Sulphur Springs Wildcats.
After a 1-9 District 12-4A campaign one year ago - their only win coming in a 68-55 victory over Paris - the Wildcats (6-15) open up district play tomorrow night against the Paris Wildcats at Wildcat Gym in the fourth game of a five-game home stand.
"We start off with Paris and even though they are not picked early to be the best team in district they have been the best team through pre-district," said SSHS first-year coach Jeff Carroll.
"They have really beaten some good teams and they are just huge. "They rebound really well and the biggest challenge for us will be to keep them off the glass, and if we can then we will be OK."
Paris (12-5) returns First Team All-District forward Courtney Jackson and Second Team All-District point guard Dereginald "Bobo" Twitty for the 2006 season.
Carroll said with Paris and Texas High as the early favorites in district, the remaining teams will be battling every single night for the final playoff spot.
"Paris and Texas High going into the district are the favorites and Mount Pleasant, Greenville, North Lamar and us are lumped in there together and if we play hard we will give ourselves a chance to beat any team in district," he said. "There is going to be an upset every single night because every team is really good this year."
Three of the district teams have a winning record coming into the district openers as Texas High (15-7) is at Greenville (15-6), while North Lamar (6-13) battles Mount Pleasant (9-10) Friday night.
Texas High is currently on a three-game losing streak after losing to the Atlanta Rabbits, 86-84, at the Tigers Den last Friday night.
GHS looks to be one of the early favorites to repeat as district champions after going unbeaten through loop play in 2005 with a 10-0, 24-5 record.
"Greenville does a great job and has a great coach and two great players and a power forward that is a good player along with their point guard," Carroll said.
Greenville, under the direction of new head coach Gant Caraway, returns All-District player Chad Robinson, who is averaging 22.4 points over his last six games.
Mount Pleasant finished second last year with a 8-2, 20-9 record, and returns the district Newcomer of the Year in Kevin Cheatum, and All-District player Carliss Robinson.
Texas High finished 5-5 in district last season as the No. 3 seed and returns the Sophomore of the Year in Leon Harris and junior Ryan Mallett.
The Jan. 24 match-up will be the first time the two teams have met since the fan disturbance incident during Senior Night last year at Wildcat Gym, a game in which T-High won 63-43.
Then, there is North Lamar, a team that Carroll said will be a tough test Jan. 27 at North Lamar with new coach Billy Mack Steed.
"North Lamar is so well coached and in my mind they are the most well coached team in the district," he said. "They can slow the tempo, they rebound, they defend and they do all of the little things that you have to do. They will be one of the teams that we have to make sure that we take care of to have success."
Carroll said for the Wildcats to improve on last year's record they have to stick to the goals that they made during the preseason.
"The thing that we have to do and the thing that we have tried to do all season is play harder than our opponents," he said. "If we play harder than our opponents and we defend the way that we know how to then we will be OK . My goals for the season were to play hard, play smart and play together, and if we do those things then we have a chance to be successful."