Thorndale will have to dig deep to repeat feats

Loss of mainstay Youngblood twins saps experience
BY MARIE BAKKEN Reporter Staff Writer

Caitlyn Goetz Caitlyn Goetz THORNDALE—After posting 30 or more wins in the last three seasons, Bradley Dickerson's No. 10 ranked Thorndale Lady Dogs basketball team will have to dig deep this season.

Returning just one starter from a regional finalist team, Thorndale's biggest challenge will be game experience.

"Last season we had a group of veterans coming back off of a state semifinalist team that had played a lot together. This year's team will have to grow together and form and identity of their own," Dickerson said. "You deal with it just like any other year when players graduate, you work hard to improve every day, play hard and get better."


Thorndale's lone returning starter, 5-7 senior Caitlyn Goetz, averaged just 5.5 points a game last season.

Other key returnees will be juniors Margie Llana and Mirah Knapek. Llana (3.8 ppg), at 5-10, saw significant time off the bench, while Knapek (3.1 ppg) earned last season's Newcomer of the Year award.

Sen iors Jorda n Heine, Brealyn Hernandez and K ara Niemtschk also look to step up for Thorndale this season.

Dickerson Dickerson Underclassmen K at y Bra ns om , a 5 - 7 sophomore, and Marlene Ha l l, a 5-3 freshman, should get significant playing time for the Lady Dogs this season.

The L ady Dogs, ranked No. 1 at the time, lost to unranked Normangee 35-34 in last year's Class A Region IV final and had an 30-4 season record. They have lost to just four Class A teams since Feb. 2006.

The team's roster took a huge hit due to graduation with the loss of all-state players and twin sisters Lindsey and Morgan Youngblood. Now playing for the San Angelo State 'Belles, the Youngbloods saw their first collegiate playing time in an overtime win over St. Edwards University Monday night.

Lindsey scored four points and had a block and a steal, while Morgan contributed two points to the win.

Other key losses include Jillian Atkins (Texas A&M -Commerce), Courtney Glenn, Angel Bigan (Sterling College-Kansas) and Samantha Vasquez.

"Our goals for this season are to win district and make the play-offs then see what happens," Dickerson said.

Looking for its fifth consecutive district title, Thorndale and Dickerson (in his 10th at the Lady Dogs' helm) will have some

competition. The Lady Dogs have won six of the last seven league championships. champion- "I think Thrall will be good this year and they are always in the playoffs," Dickerson said. "Granger will be good, Holland will be young but better and Milano should be better. Bartlett will be athletic again." With recent success of the Thorndale girls' basketball program, one would t hink rosters would be full of willing players. Even w ith three straight trips to the regional tournament, numbers are down some Dickerson said. "Numbers are a little down, we only have one sophomore playing. We usually have anywhere from 25 to 30 playing this year and we have 21," he said. "Last year we had a big senior class. This year we have a big freshman class-life in a small school." The numbers and lack of real game time experience has not shaken Dickerson's confidence in his team. "I really like this year's team. They practice and play as hard as or harder than any team I've coached," he said. "They try hard and are working hard to get better. They had one day of practice together before their first game. You will see a whole different team in the weeks to come. We will be tough by the time it matters"

Tuesday night

The Thor ndale Lady Dogs remain winless in this young season with an 53-50 overtime road loss in Rogers Tuesday night.

The Lady Dogs trailed by just three at the half, 20-17. Thorndale came out with a huge 23 point third quarter, up 40-25 heading in the final frame.

Rogers bounced back in the fourth, outscoring the Lady Dogs 19-4 to tie things up at 44 at the end of regulation.

Thorndale put up six points in the extra frame, but Rogers was able to score nine. Goetz, Heine and Llan all found out during the overtime period.

Goetz led the team in scoring with 17, followed by Llana with eight. Niemtschk, Knapek and Heine all put up six points, while Hernandez and Bransom each scored two.

In junior varsity action, Rogers defeated Thorndale 37-34.

The Lady Dogs will play in the Florence tournament over the weekend.

The Lady Dogs lost its season opener to Brentwood Christian (3-0) on Nov. 10 on the road. The 52-48 lost saw the Lady Dogs lose a nine point halftime lead and score just four in the third quarter.

L lana had 21 points, nine rebounds and four steals in the loss. Goetz had 11 points, seven rebounds and seven steals.

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