Lady Owls in playoffs for first time since players were born

By BOBBY "BUTCH" BURNEY | News-Telegram Sports Editor

Feb. 12, 2007 - Yantis will face some tall players when they meet Simms James Bowie in the bi-district round of the playoffs tomorrow, but the Lady Owls have already cleared some big hurdles.

The Lady Owls are the first Yantis girls team to qualify for the playoffs in 18 years. They finished third in District 18-A, Div. I behind North Hopkins and Boles.

They will take on Simms Bowie at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Mount Vernon.

The Yantis boys team also qualified this year after a 17-year playoff drought and will open bi-district next week.

Yantis girls coach Lane Loyd said the school's momentum has been building since the Lady Owls made the volleyball playoffs in the fall.

"It started with the girls volleyball team, and I think things have built off that," said Loyd. "We haven't stopped to smell the roses yet because we're just trying to win the next game. But, I hope there's a lot of excitement for both of our teams to make it to the playoffs."

In fact, many of the girls who are on the basketball team also played on the volleyball squad, which also finished third in district and then beat Simms Bowie in bi-district.

The Lady Owls (14-13) start two seniors, Jayna Bevill and Jamie Snider, along with two sophomores and a freshman. They are young, but Loyd said hopefully they have learned some lessons after taking North Hopkins and Boles to wire in all four of their district games.

The Lady Owls don't have the size of Simms Bowie, which Loyd said had a pair of six-footers, but will try to make up for it with their style of play.

"I've been all over East Texas gathering tape, and we've got our work cut out for us, that's for sure," he said. "We don't have a lot of size, but what we do have is a lot of heart and these girls play hard."

Loyd said the Lady Owls will try to push the ball upcourt to minimize the Lady Pirates' size advantage and try to get James Bowie's big girls in foul trouble.

"We're just going to go at them and see what happens," he said.

Notes: The Yantis-Simms Bowie winner will play Mount Enterprise in the area round. ... Saltillo and North Hopkins girls also made the playoffs, but each team received a first-round bye after winning their districts. ... Saltillo (26-1) will take on the winner between Tenaha and Wells in the area round of the Class A, Division II bracket. North Hopkins (17-13) will face the winner between Cushing and LaPoynor in the Class A, Division I bracket's area round. ... The area games will be played Thursday, Friday or Saturday. ... The boys playoffs - which will also include Yantis, Saltillo and North Hopkins - begin next week.

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