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Lady Mustangs win tournament consolation title

Marble Falls High School girls' basketball team

The Marble Falls High School girls' basketball team won the consolation championship of the Mansfield Spring Creek Barbecue Invitational Tournament to end 2021 on a winning streak. Courtesy photo

After dropping their first game in the Mansfield Spring Creek Barbecue Invitational Tournament, which was Dec. 28-30, the Marble Falls Lady Mustangs bounced back with four straight wins to capture the consolation championship. 

“We’ve talked a lot this year about the word ‘believe,’” head coach John Berkman said. “A big piece of the puzzle is (players’) belief in themselves. What we want our girls to do is understand they’re good enough to play with anybody.”

Marble Falls (16-8 overall, 1-2 in District 25-5A) opened the tournament with a loss to Frisco Lone Star, which is ranked No. 16 in the latest Class 5A poll of the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches.

“We probably didn’t play our best in the first half,” Berkman said. “We were tied in the first quarter. In the second quarter, it really got away from us. That was the difference in the game. But, we won the second half. 

“That tournament has teams that have been there, done that (in terms of program success). I don’t think that, when (my players) first got there, they believed how good they are,” he added. “They say (after the Lone Star game) we’re as good as anybody here.”

With that confidence, Marble Falls won the next four games and the consolation title, beating Sam Houston 68-35, Killeen Harker Heights 39-34, Arlington Bowie 62-51, and Huntsville 51-43 in the consolation championship.

The Lady Stangs showed their mental focus when they tipped off against Harker Heights in an 8 a.m. matchup.

The Lady Knights held a 12-point lead at the half, enough to knock most teams off their game, but Marble Falls responded by outscoring them by 12 in the third quarter. 

“I think the mental game is the big piece of the puzzle,” Berkman said. “We showed the mental toughness of staying with what we do.”

Junior point guard Tea Rodriquez earned a spot on the all-tournament team. Berkman also had high praise for junior Lexie Edwards, who averaged 14 points and eight rebounds a contest, and senior Gia Lemon, who had 16 points and 14 rebounds. 

“Being named to the all-tournament team builds Tea’s confidence even more, but it builds the confidence of her teammates in her even more,” the coach said. “To be considered one of the better individual players in that tournament is big. We had a lot of girls who played really well in that tournament who helped handle the pressure and what came at us at different times.”

Marble Falls returns to district play on Tuesday, Jan. 4, against Liberty Hill at Max Copeland Gym, 2101 Mustang Drive in Marble Falls. The Lady Mustangs play the Lady Panthers (17-8, 2-1) at 6:30 p.m. The Mustangs (0-13, 0-1) take the court against the Panthers (17-4, 1-0) at 7:45 p.m.

jfierro@thepicayune.com