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Marble Falls girls’ basketball season begins with returning players and optimism

Marble Falls High School girls basketball

Marble Falls High School girls' basketball head coach John Berkman shows his players how to defend as junior Tèa Rodriguez dribbles. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro

The Marble Falls High School girls’ basketball team enters the new season with confidence and excitement as two key players return after being sidelined by injuries last season.

The Lady Mustangs first compete in a three-team scrimmage against Austin Vandegrift and Hutto starting at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 2, at Vandegrift High School, 9600 McNeil Drive in Austin. 

Then, Marble Falls opens the season Saturday, Nov. 6, at Killeen Shoemaker. The freshmen tip off at noon, and the varsity takes the court at 1:30 p.m.

“Last year was tough for a number of reasons that didn’t have anything to do with COVID-19,” head coach John Berkman said. “We were young with seven sophomores, two juniors, and a freshman. It wasn’t a rebuilding year but a learning year.”

Juniors Lilly Nesrsta and Avie Nail each suffered torn anterior cruciate ligaments last year, and classmate Emma Bindseil was recently cleared to play after an ankle injury. 

“All three have been rehabbing consistently to get themselves ready to go,” Berkman said. “We are excited to have them back and adding to our team. There is growth by the other girls because of how much they were able to play (last season).”

Going into last season, the Lady Mustangs spent much of their offseason and summer playing in tournaments across the state, so the preparation was there, and that’s what made the results even more difficult to take. The team finished 5-18 overall and 3-11 in district.

“They didn’t see the fruits of their labor,” Berkman said. “Those were big pieces of the puzzle. I’d call it a learning year, a growing year.”

This year’s roster is filled with juniors: Tèa Rodriguez, Mackenzie Farmer, Emma Koziel, Alyssa Berkman, Emma Bindseil, Nesrsta, and Nail. Seniors Gia Lemon and Elizabeth Smith and sophomore Lexie Edwards round out the team. 

Smith is the squad’s newcomer.

“She’s very athletic and does a lot of good things for us,” the coach said. “She can be a great player who attacks the goal for us.”

Berkman made an addition to his staff this year with 2009 Marble Falls graduate Katy Cooke. She was one of the program’s top point guards while in school and has been working closely with the guards during practices.

“Bringing her in gives me great confidence in what our guards can develop into,” Berkman said. “She’s part of the Lady Mustang basketball tradition. That carries a lot of weight.” 

District 25-5A is expected to be strong as always. In the Class 5A preseason poll of the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches, defending state champion Cedar Park is ranked No. 1 followed by Georgetown at No. 7. Leander Glenn and Liberty Hill each received votes but not enough to be ranked in the top 25. The district also includes Georgetown East View, Leander, and Leander Rouse.

Berkman welcomes the challenges. 

“I’m really excited about this season,” he said. “We got everybody back playing and one or two additions. You can’t coach speed and you can’t coach height, but we have both and we have smart kids who’ve done a lot of work and preparation. We are no longer a young team. We are an experienced team.”