A New Start: Lady Cats open district schedule on Friday vs. T-High

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

Jan. 3, 2008 - Sulphur Springs coach Tina Carrillo stacked the Lady Cats' final four non-district games with quality opponents to get them prepared for the district season. Tomorrow she gets to see if the strategy paid off.

The Lady Cats open District 11-4A on Friday by hosting Texas High, the team that beat them out for the third and final playoff spot last year. The games will start with the freshmen at 4:30 p.m., JV at about 6 p.m., and varsity at about 7:30.

The Lady Cats will take an 8-11 record into the meeting, having lost their last four contests. But, those games came against Class 2A's No. 2 team, Winnsboro; Class 5A schools Longview and North Mesquite, and then Royse City.

Three other Lady Cats losses have come against Princeton, No. 4 in Class 3A, and twice to Rockwall Heath, No. 9 in Class 4A.

Carrillo believes that while the Lady Cats' record isn't as impressive as last year's non-district mark (16-5), they will be better prepared for district after she improved the quality of their schedule.

"I think it's good practice for what's to come, what's down the road," she said. "It's good for us to see teams that are overly athletic and are better in some parts of their game than teams we're going to be playing in district."

They will open against a Texas High team that has struggled to a 4-12 mark while getting adjusted to a new coach and losing one of its best players a month ago. The Lady Tigers beat SSHS in a one-game playoff last year to see who would be the No. 3 seed in the district.

Getting off to a good start at home would be an advantage since the Lady Cats have to play four of their first six district games on the road. They travel to North Lamar (18-5), the No. 12-ranked team in the state, next Tuesday, then have to play arch rival Mount Pleasant on the road before returning home to host Lindale (14-6), the most improved team in the district.

The Lady Cats also want to end their current downward trend that has them losing nine of their last 11 games after beating Class 5A Allen 45-43 in overtime at the Winnsboro Hoop Fest Tournament.

Sophomore guard Stefanie Pruitt has emerged as the Lady Cats' top scorer, averaging 9.2 points per game. She also has hit a team-high 33 3-pointers. Senior Jessica Savage has hit 23 treys and is averaging 5.5 points per game.

Senior forward Stephanie Conley and junior guard Mackenzie Cross are both averaging over eight points per game. Conley also leads the team in rebounding at 10.7 per game, more than twice anyone else on the team. Cross, meanwhile, is the Lady Cats' leader in assists and steals.

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