Jeff Coleman

Kilgore High School boys basketball coach Jeff Coleman (above) coaching in the heat of battle. Coleman and his Bulldogs are finished with the regular season, have clinched a UIL Class 4A playoff berth, and will start the playoffs next week against an opponent to be determined. Both KHS girls and Sabine girls teams begin their playoff runs tomorrow night.

It took a bit – a few days longer than normal – but Sabine High School’s Lady Cardinals have a playoff opponent and arrangements set.

The Kilgore High School Lady Bulldogs have known for days they’d play this Thursday night. And the KHS boys, and Sabine's boys? Technically, the regular season lasts a few more days, and they’re still awaiting a conclusion to see whom they’ll play.

Coach Trushundra McGill’s Kilgore Lady ‘Dogs will take on Gilmer in the first round of the University Interscholastic League’s Class 4A playoffs on Thursday night at 6:30 p.m. at Winona. And now, we know Sabine’s girls will be in action Thursday night, as well.

The Lady Cardinals, coached by Sara Cantrell, had to wait out another district to decide its seeding, but they’ll play Harleton on Thursday night at Hallsville, also a 6:0 p.m. tip-off for the UIL Class 3A postseason game. Sabine finished 10-2 in its district.

Neither Kilgore nor Sabine girls played Tuesday night, because their regular season ended last Friday. So both of those teams will be on six days’ rest when they take the court for bi-district round playoffs tomorrow night.

That wasn’t the case for coach Jeff Coleman’s Bulldogs, who finished the regular season Tuesday night in Tyler with a low-scoring 38-29 win over Cumberland Academy, in District 16-4A. Most all boys teams in East Texas have one more game Friday night, but Kilgore actually has a bye the final night.

Against Cumberland, senior Isaac Hoberecht had 11 points and Thomas Hattaway had eight. Damarion VanZant and C. Jay Ingram each had six. Jake Thompson had five, and Javoria Easley had two.

Sabine’s boys won, too. Coach Colby Carr’s team – still very much in the 3A playoff hunt – beat Ore City badly, 70-25.

David Robinson came out in a big way, netting 25 points. Clayne Simmons had 13, and Breydan Pobuda had six.

Sabine – 7-4 in District 15-3A – finishes the regular season on Friday by hosting Gladewater, a 5 p.m. junior varsity game start.

Both KHS and Sabine plan to be a part of the postseason, and Kilgore has already clinched a berth. Sabine has to finish its regular season, and we’ll know more Saturday morning, likely, which program the Cardinals will face next week.

Coleman confirmed to the News Herald Tuesday night via text that, depending upon results in another district, Kilgore will face either Paris or Pleasant Grove sometime next week – that playoff has yet to be negotiated. See kilgorenewsherald.com to keep up with when and where the Bulldogs will start their latest playoff run.

Coleman, remember, originally came to Kilgore in 2011, with the Bulldogs’ basketball program on hard times. Long gone were the days of coach Donnie Oden, who had the ‘Dogs in the thick of the playoff hunt every year, but in the early ‘80s. When Coleman, a hall-of-famer from Oklahoma with a state title and numerous state tournament appearances in his back pocket, came to Kilgore, he had quite a challenge.

The first year was a nightmare, with an on-the-court fight with Jacksonville just one aggravation Coleman had to put up with. But by 2014, Coleman not only had led the ‘Dogs back to the playoffs – he had guided them all the way to the regional tournament at Texas A&M-Commerce, with talent like Nick Orange, Trey Conrad, and Xavier Gaona leading the way.

Coleman left for Tyler Lee (now Legacy) shortly thereafter, and spent a year at Gladewater. But after the departure of Jerry Timmons here at KHS, Coleman came back to KHS. He coached girls for a year before McGill came and claimed that seat, with great success of her own. Now Coleman is back where he wanted to be for the second straight year, and Kilgore’s trajectory in basketball – with both Coleman and McGill – is headed up, up, up.

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