Temple girls

Temple players celebrate after defeating Crosby, 60-40, in the Region III-5A final last weekend, clinching a state tournament trip.

Players may dream about state, but coaches can’t afford to, not when there’s another game coming up.

That’s the mindset employed by Temple High School girls basketball coach Tamarah Sanders. She knew her team was tough. But it took the voices of others to hammer home just how tough.

“When we had our district meeting, my district coaches assured me that we would be in San Antonio,” Sanders told ESPN Central Texas earlier this week. “A lot of times as coaches, you don’t want to look ahead, you want to stay the course. So I couldn’t see what everybody else was seeing. I knew we had talent, I knew we were playing well, but it made sense when we beat Georgetown.”

Temple crushed Georgetown, 41-24, in the second round of the Class 5A playoffs, then proceeded to win three more games to reach the program’s first state tournament.

And though the Tem-Cats (31-5) are state tourney rookies, they don’t figure to be a pushover for Amarillo (38-2) in Thursday’s Class 5A state semifinals.

“(The district coaches) kept reminding me, ‘Coach, you have six players that can start, and six players that can score,’” said Sanders, a Temple High alum who played on a pair of regional tournament teams. “That’s very hard to find on teams. And all of them can play defense.”

While the state tournament is new to most of Temple, it’s not a first for Tem-Cat seniors Keziah and Jhakya Dilworth. The twin sisters played on a Cedar Park Vista Ridge team that reached state in 2014-15 before moving to Temple the summer after that school year. Their mother Chaquita was a former Tem-Cat standout in the mid-1990s.

If Temple can lock down the Sandies in the state semis, it will move on to Saturday’s 5A state title game at 3 p.m. against the winner of Mansfield Timberview (39-2) and Kerrville Tivy (33-6).

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