Don Newton can sum it up in a few words, one phrase, really.
“It was a monumental start and a monumental collapse,’’ said Newton when he recapped his team’s season last year.
Simple enough, but then again nothing seems simple for the boys basketball program at Corsican High School, where the Tigers are looking — hoping and working and striving — for a breakthrough season.
They almost had one last year. It was right there, and then it slipped away.
The Tigers, who had been 0-27 the year before Newton showed up in 2009, ripped off a 21-6 start and were soaring into the playoffs for the first time in years.
Then came the “monumental collapse.” They lost their last six games, including a do-or-die play-in game with Nacogdoches that ended their season and left the Tigers hurting.
“It was heartbreaking,’’ said senior guard Mike Lewis, who has all but vowed to turn it around this season. “We had a goal of getting 20 wins, and after we got 20 wins I think we got satisfied. Everyone kind of relaxed.’’
Then everyone went to work.
The painful ending stayed with the kids, who say they worked harder and longer in the offseason than ever before.
Part of that journey was already in place because when Newton took over the program he added offseason basketball. His Tigers played spring, summer and even fall ball and according to Lewis they played with a new purpose.
“It was horrible. We didn’t like that feeling at all,’’ Lewis said of the lingering disappointment. “We had big hopes for the seniors getting to the playoffs and we felt like we let them down. We never want to feel that way again. It motivated everyone, and even the underclassmen who came up from the JV team came in on the same page. They got to see the mindset we had.
“We worked a hot harder (in the offseason). I’d say 110 percent harder,’’ Lewis said. “We’re going to get it done this year because every day we put in the work in the offseason. We pushed each other. Everybody is pumped up. We practiced harder every day, played harder and made each other compete harder.’’
Lewis, a 6-5 guard, is moving from the point guard to the shooting guard this season. He led the Tigers, averaging 14 points a game, and was a first-team All-District pick. He will be the leader on and off the court, and Newton believes he has plenty of talent to make the next step. The Tigers return nine players, including three starters — Tim Lang, a 5-8 guard, Jamaal Evans, a 6-2 forward, and Lewis.
“We have a good nucleus returning,’’ Newton said. “They worked hard in the offseason, and we played more games than ever before. Losing the way we did last year really motivated them. It was a tough pill to swallow.’’
Newton’s teams have made strides in a program that doesn’t have a lot of tradition, and making the playoffs and making a run in the playoffs would do wonders for the image of basketball in Corsicana.
“They had a top five NBA pick in 2006, but I think they have made two playoff appearances in the last 16, 17 years,’’ Newton said. “They went 0-27 the year before I got here. We’re trying to change things here, trying to spark a little bit of excitement.’’
Newton’s kids understand. They get it.
“We’re trying to bring a new culture to Corsicana,’’ said senior guard Klinton Wright, who will be a big part of this year’s team. “We’ve brought the elementary schools to our gym for games, and we have brought the teams from the Y to our games and they play at halftime. We’re trying to noticed.’’
That’s another reason last year’s collapse hurt so much.
“We want to be the team that does it, and we were close last year,’’ Wright said. “It was really painful, but it made us want to bounce back this year and make this year better than the past. We want to do something that’s never been done in Corsicana basketball history.
“We grew up together and we have good leadership on this team,’’ he said. “We have the guys who put in the work. We really worked hard in the offseason to get ready for this year.’’
The goal is there this year — and it’s not to win 20 games.
“We have the mindset to be the best team in Corsicana history,’’ Lewis said. “We want to win the district title and make a run in the playoffs, a real run. We want to turn the program around.’’
Don Newton can sum it up in a few words, one phrase, really.
CHS Baseball: Lindale haunts Tigers again with critical 4-0 win
Lindale has been poison to Corsicana all year.
The Eagles won a bizarre game in Lindale to keep the Tigers out of the football playoffs and ruined the boys basketball season with two gut-wrenching wins in the final week of the season.
They did it again Tuesday, beating the Tigers 4-0 at Price Field to take over second place in the District 16-4A race.
Lindale (6-2) had one big inning to hand Corsicana (5-3) its second loss in a row.
GC Volleyball: Kerens' Kelly signs with Paris Junior College
She prayed about it. She lost sleep about it. And she prayed about it some more.
That's just a glimpse of what Marqueshia Kelly went through before deciding to turn down a half dozen basketball scholarships and accept a scholarship to play volleyball at Paris Junior College.
The journey might have been a little sleepless, but in the end it wasn't that tough for Kelly, who is a multi-sport star at Kerens.
“I followed my heart,'' she said on Tuesday just moments after signing a letter-of-intent to play volleyball at Paris in front of family, coaches and friends.
CHS Tennis: Tigers play well in powerhouse region
Corsicana's tennis team finished its season with a strong showing in the Class 4A Regional Tournament at UT-Arlington before falling to some powerhouse players from Dallas.
GC Baseball/Softball: Roundup -- Blooming Grove edges Mildred 1-0 (Adds Dawson-Hubbard baseball)
Blooming Grove kept its baseball playoff hopes alive, winning a pitcher’s duel, 1-0, in Mildred Tuesday night. Dalton Blake struck out 11 and scattered five hits in a well-pitched game that took an hour and a half to complete.
Navarro Softball: Bulldogs sweep Bossier on Sophomore Day
From a one-sided laugher to a hold-your-breath finish, Navarro’s softball team celebrated Sophomore Day on Saturday in front of its largest crowd of the season.
The Bulldogs ripped Bossier 14-1 in a five-inning romp and then had to fight for their lives in the second game, finally winning 2-1 in the bottom of the seventh with a squeeze bunt that brought home Caitlin Moerbe, who ended the day with a dust-filled slide at the plate.
GC Softball: Hubbard, Curtis shut out Axtell 3-0
For Hubbard’s Olivia Curtis the magic number was 15 -- as in 15 wins and 15 strikeouts.
But don’t stop counting now. There’s plenty left for Curtis and her Hubbard teammates who have made the most of their stretch run in the district race, and capped off a huge week with a 3-0 win over Axtell on Friday.
GC Baseball/Softball: Roundup -- Kerens' Anderson pitches perfect game (ADDS Dawson baseball)
Brett Anderson threw a five-inning perfect game Friday at home to lead Kerens over Neches 11-0 in a key district game that leaves the Bobcats in first place with a two-game lead.
CHS Baseball: Tigers lose to Nacogdoches 4-1
In a battle for first place in the District16-4A race, Nacogdoches and pitcher Brigham Hill stopped Corsicana’s Tigers 4-1 Friday to take over the lead in the district with a 6-1 record. The Tigers are now 5-2 and face Lindale, which is also 5-2, at Price Field on Tuesday night to try to gain ground in a tough district race.
GC Baseball: Kerens closing in on first district title since 1977
Step by step, inch by inch …
That's how the Kerens baseball team got here, right here on the threshold of what could be the program's best season since 1977.
GC Track & Field Roundup: Kerens girls win district
The Kerens girls ran away with the District 18-1A track & field meet at Cayuga, scoring 134 points to beat Dawson (108), Cayuga (101), Cross Roads (93), Hubbard (91), LaPoyner (42) and Wortham (16).
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- CHS Baseball: Lindale haunts Tigers again with critical 4-0 win