Basketball Bulldogs

Members of Kilgore High School’s boys basketball team gather around coach Jeff Coleman (center) during a time out. The Bulldogs begin the UIL Class 4A playoffs in Marshall on Saturday, a 3 p.m. tip-off against Pleasant Grove.

There won’t be a way to practice and they’re facing a new challenge, but the Kilgore High School basketball Bulldogs have a playoff opponent.

Coach Jeff Coleman’s Bulldogs will begin the University Interscholastic League’s Class 4A basketball playoffs on Saturday, a bi-district, or first round, game against Pleasant Grove at 3 p.m. at Marshall High School.

Snow and ice has everyone in place, not only in Kilgore, but statewide, with Texas Department of Transportation officials encouraging everyone to stay off roads until an expected warm-up on Friday.

Asked jokingly about the possibility of driving a snow plough around Kilgore to pick up his players for practice, Coleman laughed. “Not a bad idea,” the coach said. “Only if I had one.”

Coleman’s ‘Dogs have been off a while. They finished the regular season last Tuesday, Feb. 9, with a road win at Cumberland Academy in Tyler, and haven’t played since, but all of that wasn’t because of snow. The Bulldogs had an open date last Friday, the final date of the regular season. By the time they take the court Saturday afternoon in Marshall, 10 days will have passed.

The good news is that his team is healthy, Coleman said. The Bulldogs didn’t face Pleasant Grove in a tournament this year, mainly because tournaments were discouraged due to COVID-19. But Coleman said he’s seen PG. “They have a big team,” he said. “And they shoot the ball well.”

Simple analysis from a man who’s seen it all in 30 years of coaching, most of that in Oklahoma, having guided teams from Idabell to the Oklahoma state tournament. Coleman’s greatest accomplishment, though, might have been here in Kilgore in 2014, when he took a program that hadn’t been to the playoffs in 29 years to the regional tournament.

This Kilgore team is hot going into the playoffs, having won four straight games (over Bullard, Henderson, Spring Hill and Cumberland).

Pleasant Grove is 15-7 on the season to date, but a very-good 10-1 in district play. The Hawks finished the regular season with a 60-48 win over Paris last Friday (that was the hold-up in deciding Kilgore’s opponent), but Paris put the lone district loss in PG’s column just a game before that in pretty emphatic fashion, 82-55.

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