Keith Robinson guided the Brownwood Lady Lions to a 14-6-2 record, a second-place finish in District 34-4A and a bi-district championship in his first season in charge of the program. As his second season begins later Thursday, the goals are much higher for the Lady Lions.
“The sky’s the limit,” Robinson said. “Coming from Odessa Permian, state championships were how you were measured. I’d like to be sitting at the state tournament. With the new region and all the 4As playing by themselves, most of the districts have four to five teams so all the teams are going to be in it. At some point it becomes a crapshoot. If a good team has a bad night a lesser team can move on. If you get on a good roll those last eight games, you could be sitting in a good place. I’m trying to set a mindset that we’re not playing for tomorrow, we’re playing for April. We have to make sure we’re ready for those last eight games.”
Robinson was pleased with the Lady Lions’ performance in his inaugural campaign, but noted a higher level of play is expected in 2015.
“As a program as a whole we want to make that next general step,” Robinson said. “Settling for second place and the first round of the playoffs isn’t good enough. We want to make that next step not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually, too. We want to make sure we’re prepared to step into those games when it does get tough. Last year in the second-round playoff game, it got tough and we just weren’t quite ready to finish the game when we had chances.”
Brownwood kicks off its season at 2:45 p.m. Thursday against host Kennedale in the Kennedale tournament. The Lady Lions will also be in action at 2:45 p.m. Friday against Decatur. Saturday’s tournament finale will be determined by Brownwood’s performance in the opening two games.
The Lady Lions will also tangle with San Angelo Lake View on Jan. 20, Abilene High on Jan. 27 and San Angelo Central on Jan. 30 before opening play in the new four-team District 4-4A — which also houses Stephenville, Abilene Wylie and Mineral Wells.
“The district is going to be a good test,” Robinson said. “With only four teams, the upside is we’re already in the playoffs. The downside to that is we’re going to play three very good teams. We had a chance to look at Wylie last year as they beat us 4-0. Stephenville, they finished second in their district behind Kennedale, so it’s going to be a pretty tough district. We’re going to use it as a test and build and warm up for the playoffs.”
Among the players to watch this season for the Lady Lions are defensive specialists Paxton Vaughn, Jeane Standridge, Maddie Oines and Kelsie Pulley, midfielders Jennifer Martinez and Ashley Strong and forward Tristan Escamilla.
Robinson cited senior leadership as the greatest strength for the Lady Lions.
“This group has really taken on their role as seniors,” Robinson said. “They want to end on a very high note and they understand last year we should have gone a lot farther than we did. They’ve taken it upon themselves to go above and beyond what they’re capable of and I’m really excited about that. The other strength is going to be the underclassmen following them. The seniors are more than willing to lead and I think the underclassmen are willing to follow.”