Girls Basketball

Kennedale teams continue school year of success

The Kennedale football team last month concluded its best playoff run ever, to the Class 4A Division I state semifinals, while the volleyball team recently shared a district championship.

Already in 2017, the Kennedale girls basketball team is ranked No. 2 in Class 4A by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches, and the girls soccer team has started its season as the two-time defending champs as the Wildcats seek to continue a fantastic school year in athletics.

“Doesn’t matter if it’s on the court or track or football field, our kids always compete at a high level,” said Richard Barrett, Kennedale’s athletic director and head football coach.

“Certainly we take our athletics seriously over here, we’re excited what the kids do here for us. Hopefully we can win a bunch more games and meets and make a run here this last semester.”

Basketball beast

The Wildcats are 25-3 and 6-0 in District 7-4A as of Thursday, and winners of 11 in a row.

Kennedale has wins against state-ranked teams Mansfield Legacy (5A), Godley (4A), Liberty Hill (4A) and Wall (3A), and area 6A and 5As Arlington Martin, Burleson Centennial, Justin Northwest and Aledo.

The only losses are to 4A No. 1 Argyle and twice against 5A No. 12 The Colony.

“The girls bring a lot of energy,” coach Doug Watson said. “We face a lot of teams from West Texas, teams in Region I that we’ll see in the playoffs. So it helps us a great deal to see that and to defend that. It’s good preparation.”

Tournament titles this season are in the Brock Showcase, the Kennedale Invitational and the Whataburger Blue holiday event.

“We worked harder this preseason than we ever have, the kids have bought in, and they play really well together,” Watson said.

Last season, the Wildcats were co-district champs before falling to Abilene Wylie in overtime during the second round. Wylie went on to the state tournament.

“All things happen for a reason and I believe it was something that happened to help motivate us,” he added.

Senior forward Lucy Benson is averaging 11.6 points, 9.1 rebounds, 4.5 steals and 2.3 assists per game. She was MVP of the Whataburger tournament where the Wildcats beat then No. 2 Liberty Hill for the championship.

Senior guard Evie Whorley is averaging a team-high 16.9 points and 4.8 steals per game. Senior point guard Taylor Austin, who’s averaging 4.8 assists and 4.5 steals, was nominated for the 2017 McDonald’s All-American game.

“She’s our do-it-all,” Watson said of Benson. “She’s really stepped up her game.”

Soccer success

The girls team is 3-0 on the week-old soccer season, opening 2017 ranked No. 1 in 4A by the Texas Girls of Coaches Association.

Kennedale graduated the school’s all-time leading scorer in Allie Thornton, now at SMU, who scored 133 times and was a four-time District MVP. Abby Olmos, 27 goals and 20 assists, also graduated. Olmos scored three goals and was named MVP in last year’s state final.

But this year’s team still has depth with nine seniors, including Alondra Olmos, who made the state all-tournament team both years. After scoring 43 goals her first two years, Olmos was moved to defender last season, but returns to the offensive attack in 2017.

“She’s kind of back into, what I feel like, her better position,” coach Michael Strange said of Alondra Olmos. “She’s creative, she’s smart and quick, and she’s decisive and that’s who you want in that spot.”

Sophomore Eryka McIntyre will be another key returner. She was district Offensive MVP and All State All Tourney with 26 goals in 28 games. Others include senior goalie Sara Isela Calzada, seniors Baylee Gow, Emmy Hamilton, Taylor Fox and Cara Hunt, and juniors Bailey Crowley and Daphne Hunt.

“Communication will be the big thing. Learning everyone’s position, where the other person needs to be and that’s the biggest thing we lost from the seniors last year,” Strange said. “It’s going to take time, but we’ll get that figured out — we have smart and capable girls.”