The Lady Panthers varsity basketball team enters the playoffs as District 16-5A’s second seed after beating the Nacogdoches Lady Dragons 46-30 this past Friday night in Panther Gymnasium on the Lufkin Middle School campus.
With the win, the Lady Pack finished the regular season with a 12-11 overall record and 6-4 district record. Lufkin opens the playoffs with a bi-district game against Hallsville at 7 p.m. Friday in Tenaha.
Members of the team said they had to fight hard not only on the court this season, but off the court as well. With this season being drastically different because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the team had to adapt to many safety precautions to keep their bodies healthy while also competing against their opponents.
Head Coach SaDale Lamb said he had high expectations for the team in the playoffs.
“I think we will do very well,” he said. “We have come together nicely lately. We play hard; we just have to stay focused on our goals: Take care of the ball, and be there for each other, and we will do great. I am very positive and looking forward to seeing what we can do.”
Members of the Mallory Patel, Courtnee Morgan, Alecia Rivera-Scott. Akyshia Cottrell,Tara Hale, Tori Coleman, Kelby Coutee, Enia Branch, Aaliyah Menefee, Brookelyn Fowler, Miracle Johnson-Smith and Taliyah Menefee.
Coleman, a junior, said the Lady Panthers cannot afford to take any opponent for granted in the playoffs.
“We can’t underestimate a team that might have to redeem themselves,” she said. “With all the ups and downs we have, it will be a fight no matter how the other team performs, but we can’t lay down for anyone. I think it’ll take all of us to handle business.”
The players have dealt with roster changes due to injuries, but rallied to earn the district’s No. 2 seed in the playoffs by winning a tie-breaker on point differential. Huntsville won the district title, with Jacksonville taking third and Nacogdoches placing fourth.
This past Friday night’s game marked the last time that Panther Gymnasium is expected to serve as Lufkin High School’s home gym. A new multipurpose facility being constructed behind the Abe Martin Stadium scoreboard is expected to be complete in time for the 2021-22 basketball season.