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AREA BASKETBALL ROUNDUP: Zephyr girls playoff bound again in unusual season

Mike Lee
Special to the Bulletin
Zephyr girls basketball coach DeAnn Perkins

DeAnn Perkins has coached the Zephyr girls basketball program to 32 playoff appearances in 35 seasons, but she hasn’t seen a season like this one.

The first week of February is when girls teams are usually finalizing playoff seedings and fine tuning their execution for the postseason. But the Lady Bulldogs don’t have a game to play this week. Tuesday’s game against Evant was forfeited since the Lady Elks canceled their season long ago. And Friday’s game against Blanket was forfeited because the Lady Tigers don’t have enough players.

Like a lot of schools, Evant had COVID issues. Blanket’s player shortage was because of a concussion and stock shows.

“We have seven teams in our district, so we already had two byes in our district schedule — even if everybody is playing,” Perkins said Wednesday. “We’ve had so many byes and forfeits in district this year, I’m not sure if Tuesday night was our regular bye (it wasn’t) or a forfeit.

“We couldn’t find a fill-in game this week because everybody is scrambling to play make-up games and finish out their district schedules since this is the last week of the regular season. Bidistrict is a week from Friday (Feb. 11-13).”

Since Friday’s forfeited game against Blanket was the final regular-season game for the Zephyr girls, they’re already finished with their District 18-1A schedule with a 9-3 record and another playoff berth.

“If Gustine beats Sidney Friday night, we’re tied with Gustine for second. If Sidney wins, we finish second and Gustine is third,” Perkins explained.

Priddy is the District 18-1A winner with an 11-0 record and one game to play Friday.

So how did Perkins — who twice has coached Zephyr to the UIL state tournament — keep her players sharp during a week with two forfeits?

“A lot of shooting,” the veteran coach said. “We had plenty of time to work on our shooting. We scrimmaged against the boys a couple of days. We just tried to keep things as normal as possible.”

Although not as dominant as in some seasons, the Lady Bulldogs are back in the playoffs behind senior post Maddy Klaus, who averages a double-double at 12 points and 10 rebounds per game. She is joined in the starting lineup by hard-working senior forward Jennifer Simpson, fiery junior guard Emily Miller, junior guard Grace Williams and sophomore forward Lillie Thomas.

Bench help has come from senior Emily Primrose, sophomore Halle Kern and freshman Avery Dozier, who hit some key shots during district.

“We’ve had three girls test positive for COVID during the season, and others had to be in quarantine because of exposure,” Perkins said. “We’re thankful they’ve gotten to play this far and that they got to have a season.”

The Zephyr girls are looking at playing either Cherokee or Lometa in bidistrict.

“We’re making it OK, but the way things are now, you never know what tomorrow will bring,” Perkins said. “School and basketball bring some normalcy for the kids. These are the things they do. It’s good to have some normalcy in our world.”

Around the area

Even though three games remain in their District 6-4A schedule, the Brownwood Lions clinched a playoff berth with last Friday’s 67-50 win over Gatesville. Jakob Hataway scored 17 points as the Lions improved to 12-8 overall and 3-2 in district. After Tuesday’s bye, the Brownwood boys have district games remaining with Stephenville on Friday, Glen Rose and Lampasas.

The Brownwood girls (9-13, 2-5 in District 6-4A) must win at No. 6-ranked Stephenville on Friday to secure a 12th consecutive playoff berth. If the Lady Lions don’t beat Stephenville, Brownwood will tie Lampasas for fourth place. If that happens, Brownwood and Lampasas will have a play-in game to determine the district’s final playoff spot at 6 p.m. Monday in San Saba.

The May girls beat third-place Cross Plains 50-35 in District 13-1A on Tuesday as Reese Chambers made six 3-point goals and scored 22 points. The win kept No. 8-ranked May (19-3, 8-1) tied for the district lead with No. 9 Eula.

The May Tigers remained one game behind district-leading Eula in the 13-1A boys standings with Tuesday’s 52-45 win over Cross Plains. Rory Bustamante and Luke McKenzie combined to score 31 points for the Tigers.

The second District 29-2A heavyweight matchup between No. 3-ranked San Saba (22-0, 11-0) and No. 10 Mason (17-5, 10-1) is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday at Mason. San Saba won the first meeting 31-30 on Jan. 12 at San Saba. In that game, the Lady Dillos won despite making only six field goals. Both teams warmed up for Friday’s showdown with lopsided wins earlier this week. San Saba beat Junction 78-12, and Mason beat Johnson City 82-18.

The Mason and San Saba girls split four games last season, with the Cowgirls ultimately winning the Region IV championship game 33-32.

The San Saba Armadillos (15-3, 9-0) continue to lead the District 29-2A boys race. The Armadillos have had no district game closer than eight points so far. Goldthwaite (9-5, 8-1) remained second after rallying for a 39-36 win Tuesday at Johnson City. Goldthwaite won despite not scoring in the first quarter. Goldthwaite trailed most of the game until Johnson City, when it was leading 31-30 with 1:38 left, was called for a double intentional foul by two separate players. Goldthwaite made three of four free throws for a 33-31 lead, then received possession of the ball. Goldthwaite, which lost at San Saba 50-33 last month, hosts the Armadillos on Feb. 9.