By Joseph Garcia
Senior guard Cera Dixon is a true Panther through and through having grown up in Liberty Hill and she also is the most veteran player on this year’s Lady Panther team.
Dixon is one of five seniors on the Lady Panthers’ roster, but she has logged the most varsity games and has the most experience on the team, making her a natural leader coming into this season.
She is not an outspoken leader and she knows that, but she leads by example with her tenacity and will on the court.
Her coach, Matt Kirschner, has also seen a steady improvement in her overall game in addition to her leadership qualities.
“Cera’s determination to excel in basketball is what is driving her to improvement this year,” said Kirschner. “As a senior, this is her last year and the others are having to look at her and the other seniors for leadership. Cera is a leader on the floor due to her experience. She is a relatively quiet leader, but she is a leader by her hustle and experience on the floor.”
Dixon, 18, was part of the regional championship team that went to the state tournament last season and she knows that was a special time. She reflected on the experiences she hasgained over the last couple of seasons and is channeling her knowledge onto the court this year as she has gotten and will get more playing time than ever before.
She said that she learned by observation from former players Kourtney Bevers, Jessica Green and Lorrie Potts how to play the game right and be a leader for her team.
“I’m never going to forget last year’s team,” Dixon said. “You will never have the same team twice. I miss them all the time. They definitely had a big impact on my life and they (still) help me perform today.”
Dixon said she has played the game of basketball since she was eight. And having been on varsity since she was a sophomore, Dixon is embracing her leadership role on this year’s team.
“It being my senior year I (play) a different part,” she said. “I have to step up and be that leader this year and I have. It’s a good feeling.”
Dixon is a starting guard for the Lady Panthers and along with sophomore Shelby Whitten is the primary ball handler during games. Her excellent handle of the basketball coupled with her smart decision making are two reasons she is an integral part of the Lady Panthers’ team.
Dixon is second on the team in assists for the season, proving that she always tries to keep the ball moving and is constantly looking to get her teammates involved.
With each game Dixon appears to grow in confidence and determination, which is what Coach Kirschner needs from one of his best leaders and players.
“Cera has the experience I am looking for in a ball handler,” Kirschner said. “She has been on varsity the previous two seasons and has big game experience. She knows how to handle the pressure and knows what I am looking for on the court. Cera is more confident in herself and her skills. She is looking to score more this year and also getting her teammates more involved.”
In addition to being selfless on offense, Dixon is considered to be not only the Lady Panthers’ best perimeter defender, but maybe the best on the team.
Standing at 5-7, Dixon is tied for second on the team in blocks for the season with six. She is also among team leaders in steals, deflections and defensive rebounds.
Kirschner says it is her cat-like quickness that makes Dixon an exceptional defender.
“Cera is one of our best defenders because of her quickness and willingness to sacrifice her body (by taking charges),” he said. “I would like to see her shooting percentage increase, thus her scoring will increase, but I think she is our top defender. She is the quickest kid we have, she gets after it.”
Her favorite subject in school is math, but right now she and her teammates are trying to write a new chapter in Liberty Hill history with a young team that is improving with each game played.
Spoken like a true leader, Dixon said she is pleased with the way things have gone the last couple of games, especially in a win over China Spring and a close loss to 4A Leander.
“We came out just as hard and competed with (Leander),” Dixon said. “I am just so proud of the way (we played). This team is a younger team and we still have a lot to improve on. But each game we surprise ourselves even more and suck it up when we need to.”
Confident in her team’s ability to compete and improve, Dixon is eying another district title before her playing days are done at Liberty Hill.
“I hope that we win district,” she said. “I know that Burnet is going to be our biggest rival, but I hope we come out on top.”
Of course when the season is over, Dixon will miss the hard court, but she said the outdoors and track is where she thrives the most. She even hopes to run track after graduation.
“I want to go to ACU (Abilene Christian University) and want to try and run track there,” she said. “I am looking forward to track (for sure). That is my main sport.”
Track season is still a few months out, so right now Dixon is concentrating on basketball and developing relationships with her fellow Lady Panthers.
“Basketball is kind of my life right now,” Dixon said. “I love playing with the girls and it brings us closer.”