No. 7 Martins Mill stands in North Hopkins' path

4 county schools face ranked teams in area

By JOSEPH ELERSON, News-Telegram Sports Writer

Feb. 21, 2008 - BIRTHRIGHT - For North Hopkins seniors Roger Sancho and Robert White, only one thing could make their final season together more special than an undefeated district season.

Getting past the area round of the Class A state playoffs.

The North Hopkins Panthers (19-7), champions of District 18-A, begin their playoff run on Thursday at Wills Point High School against No. 7-ranked Martins Mill, which defeated Joaquin 77-38 on Monday night. Tipoff for the contest is scheduled for 7 p.m.

"I am trying to get that first win in the playoffs and build up the program before we leave," Sancho said. "We are going to play our roles and see what happens and try and end up with a win."

White said with this being his first season on the varsity, the playoff experience will be new for him.

"It is my first year to go to the playoffs, but for coach Matt Rager it is really big since he has only been here two years," the senior said. "He has gone 8-0 in district both years. It gives the school pride and it is good for the underclassmen as well."

With the success Rager has brought to the Panthers and the tradition that is being laid out by the team, White said Rager knows what he is talking about during their practices.

"He pays a lot of attention to details and focuses on the small things that we do best to get us wins," White said. "He really wants us to do good in everything else so that we can strive for better things."

Sancho said the way that the Panthers started the season was tough for the team, but the way they finished is how they want to perform in the playoffs.

"At the beginning of the season, we were losing games by 2-or-3 points and it was aggravating," he said. "After we got the first win, we started winning games and playing better as a team. It was tough at the end when some of our guys left for baseball because we did it all as a team and that is the way we wanted to finish it out.

"It felt good because from a competitive standpoint since I have only lost one district game my whole career. Everybody was thinking they were going to beat us and go farther than we were this season. I was glad that we were able to beat them twice and hopefully we can build on that in the playoffs."

Both players said they have learned a lot about the game of basketball from each other and what each one of them brings to the Panthers to help make them successful.

"Roger has taught me that you can't give up on anything," White said. "He pushed me to get into the sport and he has shown me leadership. He does a lot of things within the school and has shown me if you work hard you will get good things."

"It has been great having Robert on the team, and I wish he would have played the whole time," Sancho added. "He is the hardest worker on the team, and he is trying to help motivate the team. He is playing well and is a great leader, and he will go on to bigger and better things."

White is the son of Bob White and Donna Jones and plans on attending LeTourneau University in the fall in hopes of becoming a pilot. Sancho plans on attending the University of Texas at Arlington and getting a degree in sports medicine.

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