MART — Surrounded by a few dozen of her former and current players, Jerry Hoffman couldn’t possibly feel alone.
While her milestone night centered on a singular achievement — the Mart girls’ basketball coach registered the 600th win of a 29-year coaching career — Hoffman knew better. She said she couldn’t have reached such a heady plateau without a collective lift from more players and coaches than she could possibly count.
“That I’m really old, that’s what it makes me think of,” Hoffman said. “It makes me remember all the fantastic athletes that I’ve had the opportunity to coach, and a lot of those athletes have been here in Central Texas. The list is long.”
The Mart girls ensured that the postgame celebration would be realized by swatting away rival Riesel, 53-25, on Friday night at the MHS gym. That result increased Hoffman’s lifetime ticker to 600-206 in a career that included stops at Rosebud-Lott, Robinson, Crockett and Coppell in addition to Mart. She became only the 23rd coach in Texas girls’ high school basketball history to reach the 600-win mark.
As soon as the final buzzer sounded on the district-leading Lady Panthers’ rout, Mart’s players began leaping into the air and screaming in celebration.
Moments later, a large group of Hoffman’s former players joined their old coach on the court, where she was presented with a bouquet of flowers and a couple of ceremonial basketballs.
“It’s pretty cool, and it’s pretty emotional,” Hoffman said. “I see them, I keep in touch with them on a very limited basis, but for them to take the time to come out for this, it’s very meaningful.”
Mart, now 10-0 in District 18-2A with two regular-season games left on the docket, assured that the milestone would never really be in doubt. Riesel was only in the game briefly, using a couple of 3-pointers from Jo Curtis and Callasta Jackson to knot the score at 6-6 after the first three minutes of the game.
But the Lady Indians couldn’t maintain that type of pace. After those two quick bombs from the perimeter, Mart tightened the vise grip defensively, and Riesel didn’t score again until 3:06 remained in the second quarter. At that point, Mart held a 13-point lead.
The Lady Panthers played aggressively, gambling for loose balls and steal attempts. That resulted in a steady assortment of stoppages, and five different Mart players were tagged with at least three fouls.
But even saddled in foul trouble, Mart’s three-time Super Centex star Adrianne Rauls proved too tenacious for Riesel in the paint. The Lady Indians came out of the game in a box-and-one defense, with at least one defender shadowing Rauls at every turn. But she attacked the basket with abandon, finishing with a game-best 23 points and 11 rebounds, and displayed unique grace when she split a pair of Riesel defenders for a fast-break layup shortly before halftime.
Brennan Bain contributed eight points for Mart, while Jackson topped Riesel (2-7 in district) with nine.
Ultimately, though, the night belonged to Hoffman. Following the win, she doled out her gratitude to her numerous former players and coaching mentors, some of whom – like former Midway coach Linda Harding – were in attendance.
“I’ve been fortunate, and I’ve gotten a lot of attention for this, but it’s the situations that I’ve been fortunate enough to be in and people that believed in me,” Hoffman said. “The chance I had to coach fantastic players, being in situations where girls basketball was very important to the administration. … I’ve just been lucky.”
Midway 62, Killeen 60
KILLEEN — Kayla White came up with a buzzer-beating putback to propel the Pantherettes over the Lady Kangaroos in a first-place battle in District 8-6A.
Midway trailed by six points entering the final quarter, thanks to a 14-2 surge from Killeen (20-10, 9-2) to end the third quarter. But Midway (25-5, 9-2) responded with a big run of its own, opening the fourth on an 8-0 spurt.
Temple 50, Waco High 45
Coryn Grovey hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 3:02 to play, and the Lady Wildcats held off a feisty upset try from the Lady Lions.
Grovey’s bucket put Temple (16-11 overall, 8-2 in 18-5A) in front, 47-44, and Waco High never regained the lead again. Breyaunna Sigler scored 12 points to head up Temple, and Keziah Dilworth and Wilashia Burleson added 11 apiece.
Perrisha Cox hit for 12 points to pace the Lady Lions.
China Spring 59, La Vega 44
The Lady Cougars’ upward ascent continued, as Alex Perkins and Abbie Snyder scored 16 points apiece in a victory over the three-time defending district champion Lady Pirates.
China Spring (16-9 overall, 7-2 in District 17-4A) trailed 9-3 after a sluggish opening quarter, but outscored La Vega 21-6 in the second to take control. Gabrielle Cleveland chipped in 10 points in the Lady Cougars’ triumph.
Shekenia Green swished in 15 points for La Vega (10-14, 7-3).
Midway 72, Killeen 46
The Panthers used a hot shooting night and a sturdy defensive effort to run away the visiting Kangaroos at the Midway High arena.
It marked the fourth win in the past five games for Midway (23-5 overall, 7-2 in Class 8-6A), which remains in a second-place tie with 22nd-ranked Ellison in the district race behind one-loss Shoemaker.
Temple 59, Waco High 50
Temple used a balanced scoring attack to thwart Waco High, which once again proved reliant on the steady scoring of D.J. Montgomery. Montgomery scored 22 points for the Lions, but only one other player cracked double figures in the scoring column. Meanwhile, Temple had four double-digit scorers, led by 13 each from Jashawn Darden and Wesley Sheppard.
Vanguard 77, Rapoport 40
Despite wearing a facemask from a broken nose earlier in the season, Kobe Thomas scored 19 points and the second-ranked Vikings rolled to an easy win over the crosstown rival Ravens.
Braden Black added 12 points and Hudson Bradley supplied 10 for Vanguard (26-7) in the nondistrict battle.