By Mike Phillips
Corsicana Daily Sun
Nothing has changed.
Even though everything has changed.
Many thought they wouldn't be or couldn't be, but somehow the Corsicana Lady Tigers have arrived on the cusp of their District 16-4A season ready to make a run at their first playoff berth in years.
It's a long road ahead, but these kids have already been through a bumpy ride no one expected, and they say expectations are the same now as they were in August.
“The goal is the same,'' Coach Art Prevost said Thursday. “We want to win 20 games and make the playoffs.''
That goal looked a lot easier back when the season started when Corsicana took its first steps to what it hoped would be the best season in more than 20 years with some history-making news.
Calae Wilson became the first girls basketball player from Corsicana High to sign a Division I basketball scholarship just before the season started when she inked with Nicholls State.
Hopes couldn't have been higher for Prevost and his kids.
Then in the seventh game of the season Wilson tore her ACL and was lost for the season. Wilson, who had surgery on Dec. 22, is still with the team, on her crutches, cheering from the bench.
“She's like having another coach,” Prevost said.
“We had to rely on the young kids,'' Prevost said. “They have really done a great job. I think when she (Wilson) first went down you didn't know what would happen. The sophomores have stepped up and we have played well as a team.
''Alexis Baston, a sophomore, has done a great job at guard and Erica Melendez (a senior) has played inside and done a great job. She has eight double-doubles this year.''
Other players such as Destini Lunsford, a sophomore, and senior Ariel Bartee have had their moments and players such as Kennady Betts and senior Briana Biltz, who play inside, have played well, and Shamara “Shay-Shay” Taylor is quick and smart and has helped ignite the Lady Tigers from the guard spot.
But what has made Prevost the happiest is the way everyone has come together to fill the void left by Wilson and the way the team has stayed up not only on the court but off of it.
“Every kid who is playing has contributed,'' Prevost said. “We have really had a team effort.’’ The Lady Tigers have lost some tough games but they're 14-6 as they enter the District 16-4A race, which begins Friday. Corsicana opens at home against Nacogdoches.
The mindset on the court is unselfish and the Lady Tigers have had different players lead them in scoring.
“We would rather have four or five players score eight points,'' Prevost said. “It's us as a group. We don't want to be a team where you have one player scoring all the points.
“I've been pleased with the team. When (Wilson) got injured it could have been traumatic, but the kids have played well and we feel good going into the district.''
Prevost said there are a number of teams that could win the district title, including Lindale, which is the defending District 16-4A champ.
“Based on where we finished last year (out of the playoffs), I think we should be on the outside looking in, having respect for every team we play,'' Prevost said
. “I know our team is a lot better than we were last year. Our goal (at the beginning of the year) was to win 20 games and make the playoffs. We've got 14 wins now so if we win 20 games we will probably make the playoffs. Right now, we're 0-0 and our goal is to be one of the four teams that makes the playoffs.''