By Joseph Garcia
Along the bench of every successful high school basketball program roams the mastermind entrusted to lead its team to victory. Of all the 3A schools – 1A and 2A as well – in the state of Texas, no one seemingly did a better job of that than Liberty Hill Lady Panthers’ Coach Matt Kirschner.
Earlier this month, the three-year head coach was honored by the Texas Girls Coaches Association by being named the head coach of the 1A-2A-3A South All-Star team.
The game will be played at 6 p.m. July 12 at the University of Texas at Arlington.
“I have to give a lot of credit to the kids,” said Kirschner. “If I wouldn’t have had the kids we did this year and the success that they brought I would have never even been thought of for that position, which is an honor.”
If that wasn’t rewarding enough, he is afforded the opportunity to coach two of the girls who led the Lady Panthers to the State Tournament one more time.
“I am fortunate enough to coach two of them this summer in Taylor (Russell) and Kourtney (Bevers) in the TGCA All-Star Game in July,” Kirschner said. “More than me, I am glad that at least two of the kids get to play in it.”
Liberty Hill finished the season 35-5 and a perfect 10-0 in District 25-3A. Kirschner also coached the Lady Panthers to district, area and regional titles in 2012 en route to the state semifinals where they took on eventual champs Abilene Wylie.
Kirschner reflected on the entire experience of the tournament. Getting just a taste of the glory has set a fire in his belly to return to the scene.
“It was fun walking in the Erwin Center through the tunnel and getting to see it from that angle,” he said. “I had been there as a spectator, but never as a player or coach. For me it drives me to get back. I don’t want to say that I only made it one time in my career. I’m still a relatively young coach and I definitely want to get back there sooner than later. But it’s not up to me; it’s going to be up to the girls.”
As for the all-star game, Coach Kirschner said it’s going to be quite an experience for both him and his players who may or may not have seen each other before.
“I’ve looked at the rosters from both teams and there’s a lot of talent on that floor,” he said. “Since we’ve had so much success this year the girls know several of the players that will be at the all-star game. That makes it more unique for the kids. That’s the great thing about the all-star game is that there are some kids that have never seen each other. There are some that may have been competitors and now they are teammates. That’s going to be a fun thing to not only coach, but also watch.”
The players he will be coaching, besides Russell and Bevers, on the south team include seniors: Katie Isom – Early HS, Alyssa Michalke – Schulenburg HS, Hannah Holik – Wall HS, Alyssa Anthony – Greenwood HS, Ciara Guilhas – Hamshire Fannett HS, Erin Sims – Lorena HS, Morgan Hale – Rockport Fulton HS, Ashtyn Henkes – Yoakum HS, Khadijah Carter – Goodrich HS and Roddricka Patton – Neches HS.
Kirschner’s assistant for the game will be Quint Anthony from Midland Greenwood, giving the Liberty Hill coach a chance to work with someone new whom he can take some notes from.
While this will be Kirschner’s first all-star game as a head coach, this is not his first rodeo.
“I’ve been an assistant in the TABC (Texas Association of Basketball Coaches) All-Star Game under Coach (Barry) Boren a couple of years ago,” he said. “But here I have to run the show and figure out what we are going to do and if we can get it in to one or two practices.”