Lady Eagles to 3A State Basketball Playoffs


Payton Botelho

The Lady Eagles pause for a pep rally and send-off on their way to San Antonio Wednesday morning.

Advancing to the state playoffs for the 4th consecutive time, the Lady Eagles will play Winnsboro on Thursday at 1:30 p.m at the Alamodome in San Antonio.  The winner will play in the championship game on Saturday.

“I’m really excited to be able to go back. Four years in a row is really cool,” head coach Sally Whitaker said. “It’s a special thing that these kids get to experience, and just to be able to do it consecutively kind of sends a message to all players, underclassmen through seniors, that it’s what we want to continue to do after this year.”

The student body and community held a pep rally and send-off for the Lady Eagles this morning at the Johnson Activity Center Parking Lot. 

“I feel confident in our team going into this state tournament. I want that state title so badly, so this year I am so ready to give everything on the court to win state, and I know my teammates will do the same,” junior Avery Thaler said. “We can’t get down when we start giving up points, because it’s a state game and we’re going to make mistakes. We have to be mentally tough enough to battle through those mistakes to win the game.”

The Lady Eagles have advanced to state in the three previous years, winning 3A State Championship last year and 4A State Championship in 2020.

I am so ready to give everything on the court to win state, and I know my teammates will do the same.

— junior Avery Thaler

“I know what it feels like to win a state championship. I also know what it feels like to lose one,” Thaler said. “Our girls don’t ever want to lose again, and I think that drive pushes us to have a passion no other team has. I take away a lot from this season. The relationships we’ve built will definitely be something I will always remember. We are so close to one another. We have a bond with each other that words can’t even come close to describe. I love these girls so much.”

The team consists of players from each grade level including seniors Shadasia Brackens and McKinna Brackens who have been on the team and competed at state since their freshman year.

“My freshmen year, I didn’t think I was going to be on varsity, so it was a surprise,” McKinna Brackens, who has signed to play with University of Nevada, Las Vegas, said. “It’s very exciting to get to state because not many other teams get to do this. It’s actually a lot of pressure as well because since we’ve won twice before, I feel like we have to bring it home again.”

The team also has freshman players who are starting their high school career on varsity.

“I think overall, you feel fortunate to go four years, no matter what,” coach Randy Barger said. “Every year we’ve had freshmen to contribute, and I don’t see it being any different this year. We have a couple of freshmen who play a lot. I think they’re going to be a big part of the game.”

On their road to state, the Lady Eagles defeated Rice for the Regional Championship, with a score of 47-43, and took the win against Hitchcock with a score of 65-31.

  “I feel scared and excited to be able to participate in the state game,” sophomore Jaci Abram said. “This will be my first time ever experiencing something like this. My teammates have become family to me and they are very helpful. My coaches are very helpful to me, and they see the potential in me and I thank them.

The Lady Eagles took the title of Area Champions against Mildred which led them to the regional quarterfinals defeat of Malakoff with a score of 71- 26.

“I feel very excited and nervous for this being my first year. I think the biggest challenge would be in the first game putting down the big girl and just having great defense,” freshman Kaylee Williams said. “I feel like what I am taking away is my mentality that has gone through this season, ever since basketball had started I was always dreaming of achieving this goal and being a freshman at state.”

The overall standings are 37-2 holding a 34-win streak for the Lady Eagles. 

“This experience is good for me, and it’s fun,” Shadasia Brackens, who has signed with University of North Texas, said. “I mean, who wouldn’t want to go to state?”