Lady Panthers Clinch Playoff Berth, Bryant Wins No. 475

Brian GossetStaff Writer

After a two-year hiatus, the Van Alstyne Lady Panthers are back in postseason action. They defeated Commerce 53-26 at home Tuesday night to clinch one of the three remaining spots in District 13-3A.

Van Alstyne (23-9, 9-3) got out to a comfortable 29-16 halftime lead before turning up their defense in the second half, outscoring Commerce 24-10 in the period.

Celebrating her 18th birthday, Maddie Horn dropped a game-high 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting, knocking down five 3-pointers in the win, while Emma Moreno and Molly Mayes added eight and seven points, respectively. Carleigh Simmons stuffed the stat sheet with seven boards, seven assists and five steals.

Van Alstyne last made the playoffs with a bi-district loss to Argyle during the 2011-12 season. That team finished with 17 wins. The 23 this year has already beaten that mark as a season-best during the Tim Bryant era, who is in his fifth season coaching the team.

With two games to go, the Lady Panthers are in second place, one game up on Whitewright—who they have the tiebreaker with—and Farmersville, who they split the season series against.

Into his 24th year as a head coach, Bryant now sits with 476 career wins after defeating Commerce Tuesday night. It’s his fifth season with Van Alstyne after he spent 19 years at the helm at Ocean Springs High School in Mississippi, where he won 417 games, winning 20 or more and taking his team to the state playoffs in each of his final 10 years there, including 26-4 in 2009-10, his final season – two games away from the state championship.

Commerce 8 8 3 7 – 26

Van Alstyne 14 15 10 14 – 53

VA: Horn 19, Moreno 8, Mayes 7, Madison Reno 6, Raigan Servati 4, Simmons 3, Ashley Hammond 3, Ashley Burts 2, Andrea Espitia 1; Rebounds 35 (Simmons 7, Burts 6, Mayes 6); Assists 14 (Simmons 7, Burts 3); Steals 14 (Simmons 5, Burts 3)

Van Alstyne 47, Lone Oak 31

The Lady Panthers snapped a two-game skid by winning at Lone Oak 47-31 on Jan. 30 and in doing so, gave Coach Tim Bryant his 475th career win.

Leading by just six points after three quarters, Van Alstyne turned on the jets and used a 17-7 fourth-quarter run to make the game out-of-reach.

Horn and Moreno once again led the team with 17 and 14 points, respectively, while Horn added six rebounds, three assists and four steals. Moreno dished out a team-high four assists.

The Lady Panthers next play Friday against Caddo Mills during Senior Night where they’ll honor Carleigh Simmons, Maddie Horn, Emma Moreno, Ashley Burts, Andrea Espitia and Ashley Hammond before the game.

Van Alstyne 14 10 6 17 – 47

Lone Oak 11 8 5 7 – 31

VA: Horn 17, Moreno 14, Burts 5, Simmons 4, Servati 4, Mayes 2; Rebounds 31 (Simmons 6, Horn 6, Servati 6); Assists 14 (Moreno 4, Horn 3, Servati 3); Steals 15 (Simmons 5, Horn 4)

Next Up:

vs Caddo Mills (Senior Night), Friday 6:15 p.m.

at Tom Bean (Season Finale), Tuesday 6:15 p.m.

District 13-3A Standings

Leonard 11-1*

Van Alstyne 9-3*

Whitewright 8-4

Farmersville 8-4

Lone Oak 6-6

*Clinched

Friday’s District Schedule (visitor vs home)

Caddo Mills vs Van Alstyne

Farmersville vs Leonard

Tom Bean vs Commerce

Whitewright vs Lone Oak

Tuesday’s District Season Finales

Van Alstyne vs Tom Bean

Lone Oak vs Farmersville

Commerce vs Whitewright

Caddo Mills vs Leonard