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Looking Back: Tough Season Could Yet Yield Positive Results for Lady Panthers

Van Alstyne Lady Panther coach Tim Bryant has just completed his 26th year of coaching girls basketball and 2013-14 was a tough one as his team struggled all season trying to generate an offensive attack.

Replacing the four-year talents of Hunter Offill and Sierra Motley proved to be too much for an inexperienced team to accomplish. The current team battled all season to create an offensive plan but came up short in most games. Finding someone who could scored from the perimeter, create their own scoring opportunity or finish at the rim off of patterned plays was difficult for this team.

The Lady Panther season got off to a good start as the team posted a 51-34 road win over Cooper to tip off the season. Maddie Horn, Ashley Burts and Carleigh Simmons were all in double-figures for the contest, as the Lady Panthers defeated the defending District 15-2A champions.

After losing a 1-point game to Pottsboro on a late rally by the Lady Cardinals, and suffering a 46-33 loss to Bogata-Rivercrest, the team split its four games in the Bells Tournament. Van Alstyne won the opener against Commerce and the final game against Saint Jo.

The team got back on the winning track as it hosted Anna in the Highway 5 rivalry game.

Allison Hensly scored 13 points and Emma Moreno added 12 as the Lady Panthers pulled away with an 11-3, fourth quarter run, and Van Alstyne came away with a 34-26 win.

Another tournament, another 2-2 split as the Lady Panthers competed at the Pottsboro Tournament. They got off to a good start, beating Denison. 40-32. That afternoon the Lady Panthers returned to take on Decatur and they were no match for the Lady Eagles who beat the Lady Panthers and everyone else, as they went on the cop the tournament title. On Friday, Van Alstyne played what may have been the team’s best game of the season, posting a 52-50 win over a very good Whitesboro team.

With a 6-6 record and tournament play over, although they did not know that at the time, the Lady Panthers returned home to take on Lindsay. Emma Moreno and Carleigh Simmons each scored 11 points and Hannah Smith added 10 as Van Alstyne led all the way in a 48-29 win.

After a 42-20 win over Collinsville, Van Alstyne traveled to Whitesboro for their second meeting of the season with the Lady Bearcats.

The Lady Panthers fell behind by 10 in the first quarter and could not come all the way back as they lost a 50-45 game.

The always popular S&S tournament was next on the schedule; however, Mother Nature intervened and that event was canceled, along with about three days of school as icy weather came roaring through.

Van Alstyne would go into District 12-2A play with a record of 8-7.

Back-to-back district wins to get league play started gave everyone a good feeling about the season.

Delayed a couple of days due to the weather, Van Alstyne wiped out an early deficit against Pilot Point and came back for a 37-36 win over the Lady Bearcats. Moreno scored 12 points and Ashley Burts dropped in the game-winner.

Van Alstyne followed up that win with a 40-34 win at Caddo Mills

Whatever magic the team possessed during these first 17 games quickly disappeared as the top teams of the district were next on the agenda.

Five consecutive losses, one to non-league Valley View, dropped the record to 10-12, before a 40-point win over Quinlan Boles stopped the bleeding.

With the exception of a 37-21 home-win over Caddo Mills, the remainder of the season was forgettable for the Lady Panthers. The team finished 12-17 for the year and 3-9 in the district, good enough for fifth place.

That early win against Whitesboro, that was coach Bryant’s 450th and he finished with 457.

With all of his 2013-14 team expected to return next season, the Lady Panthers hope to use experiences gained in the past to pay dividends as they go into the 2014-15 season.

The Lady Panthers will compete in District 13-3A along with Caddo Mills, Commerce, Farmersville, Leonard, Lone Oak, Tom Bean and Whitewright.

2013-14 Statistics Points

Emma Moreno 197

Maddie Horn 166

Carleigh Simmons 129

Ashley Burts 106

Raigan Servati 96

Allison Hensley 72

Hannah Smith 66

Molly Mayes 41

Hannah Fernandez 40

Bryanna Hernandez 39

Bailey Allen 25

Andrea Espitia 11