Saltillo squaring off against No. 1 ranked team in state

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

Feb. 20, 2007 - Kennard and Saltillo haven't felt the sting of losing much at all this year. Unfortunately, one will tomorrow.

Between the two teams, they have lost just twice all season - once by each team.

They will face each other at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at Brownsboro High School in the Class A, Division II, Region III quarterfinals. The winner will advance to the regional tournament at Stephen F. Austin State University this weekend.

Kennard has been ranked No. 1 in the state the entire season as the Lady Tigers return four of their starters from last season's state championship. Saltillo, ranked No. 11, returns all five starters from last season's regional quarterfinal team, and had two starters move into the district in the offseason.

It should be a classic showdown.

"I saw them play against Martins Mill," Saltillo coach Garry Davison said of Kennard's only loss of the season, "and they're good, really good. They could have easily won that game.

"We'll show up and see what we can do."

Davison is no stranger to Austin. He took Saltillo's 2001 squad to the state finals in Austin, where they were beaten by Nazareth.

To get by Kennard, Saltillo will likely have to control junior Erica Adair, last season's MVP of the state championship game and the team's leading scorer. Her older sister, Tiffany, is also a proficient scorer.

Felicia Skinner and Jasmine Mitchell round out the returning starters for the Lady Tigers, who beat Dodd City, 62-29, in the area round.

Saltillo will counter with the 1-2 scoring punch of senior point guard Chloe Roberts and junior forward Winter Stevens, who were Co-District MVPs last season. They are joined in the starting lineup by 6-2 junior Stephanie Methe, who returned to Saltillo this year and has added some scoring and rebounding, 5-9 senior Bekah Rogers, who also moved to the district this season, and 5-7 sophomore Emily White, who started last season as a freshman.

Coming off the bench are two girls who relinquished their starting roles this year and now give the team the benefit of added depth: 5-7 junior Jessica Gilbreath and 5-0 sophomore Cara Geerts.

Saltillo got to this point by going 27-1 for the season, winning District 22-A without a loss and then defeating Tenaha 40-29 in the area playoff round. The Lady Lions have put together a 23-game winning streak.

"We didn't play our best game against Tenaha," said Davison said. "In fact, it was one our worst games, but it's been my experience that sometimes that first playoff game is the ugliest."

The winner of Wednesday's game will face the winner between Newcastle and Strawn in the regional semifinals Friday at SFASU in Nacogdoches.

Directions - To get to Brownsboro High School, take SH 19 south to Athens. Then, take SH 31 east to Brownsboro. The high school is on the right when entering the town, and the gym entrance is at the back. An alternate route it to go the Quitman-Mineola-Lindale route to Tyler, go right on the loop and take SH 31 west to Brownsboro.

Notes: Following the Kennard-Saltillo girls game, the Kennard boys will play a bi-district match-up against Avinger at 8 p.m. ... The state mandated that basketball playoff games be moved to Wednesday/Thursday rather than the normal Monday/Tuesday of this week because students are taking TAKS tests on Tuesday and Wednesday.

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