Their stay in the playoffs wasn't long, Kilgore's Lady Bulldogs did well enough to perhaps establish a good foundation for future postseason trips.
And for boys programs at both Kilgore and Sabine, the playoffs are just beginning.
The Lady ‘Dogs lost to Canton on Friday in Whitehouse, 48-26, in the second (area) round of the University Interscholastic League's Class 4A playoffs. Kilgore had defeated Liberty-Eylau in Marshall in the first round to earn the spot.
Canton (34-1), ranked fourth in the state in the Texas Girls Coaches Association's 4A poll at the beginning of the week, moves on to face Gilmer in round three.
Canton turned what had been a close game in the first quarter into a nine-point halftime lead, and then after Kilgore managed to stay with them in the third, the Eaglettes pulled away in the fourth, holding KHS to nine points.
Miah Thomas had nine points to lead the Lady Bulldogs. Jamaria Thomas had seven, and Kyndall Nilius of Canton had 19.
There were definitely positives from coach Trushunda McGill's first season: the Lady ‘Dogs won 16 games, including a first-round playoff game; they went 6-1 at home; and proved they could compete with area powers, defeating district champ Bullard in the regular season finale for both schools.
As for the boys, both games were to be played Tuesday night, after the print deadline for this issue of the Kilgore News Herald.
Coach Jeff Coleman's Kilgore Bulldogs (17-10 on the season so far, second seed out of District 16-4A) were to take on North Lamar (14-16) in a first-round (bi-district) 4A game on Tuesday night at Emory Rains High School.
The KHS-North Lamar winner moves on to the area, or second, round to meet either Brownsboro (12-16) or Crandall (24-10) later this week.
Coleman is technically in his first season as Kilgore's head basketball coach, but in his second tenure – Coleman, from Oklahoma, was Kilgore's coach for four seasons (2010-14), and helped lead the Bulldogs out of the wilderness, so to speak. Kilgore had missed the playoffs for 29 consecutive seasons before Coleman guided them back there, and eventually to the 4A regional tournament at Texas A&M-Commerce in the 2013-14 season.
He left Kilgore briefly and coached at both Tyler Lee and Gladewater before returning to KHS last year as girls head coach. When coach Jerry Timmons departed after the 2017-18 season, Coleman returned to his customary position coaching the Bulldogs, and his assistant, McGill, took the reins as head girls basketball coach.
Sabine had no such turnover: coach Colby Carr led the Cardinals to the third round of the UIL Class 3A playoffs a year ago.
Sabine is 23-9 this season so far, including a District 16-3A championship. The Cardinals were to face Ore City (15-17) on Tuesday night at LeTourneau University in Longview in a firsr-round game. The Sabine-OC winner will face either Mount Vernon (12-8) or De Kalb (14-10) in the second round this weekend.