Senior forward Carissa Vickers shows up big in win over Burnet

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By Lance Catchings

Senior and two-year letterman Carissa Vickers was one of the vital factors in the district opening 57-51 win over Burnet last Friday.

Vickers scored nine points and pulled down some key rebounds to help the Lady Panthers to victory.

Vickers knows her team has faced some adversity this season, but she thinks her team will continue to improve as they jell with every practice and every game.

“This season has been harder to become a leader following the group that graduated,” Vickers said. “Many of our younger players have never been on varsity before, so as older players, we do have to show them how things work. It is fun helping our younger teammates learn. Working together this season at times has been rough, because many of us, quite honestly, had never played together before. Some of the seniors have played together for a long time, and then you have the underclassmen come in, so it takes a lot to get used to how we will all play together. It’s been a challenge, but during practice, learning how to work together has been a large part of what we do.”

When Vickers saw that she and her teammates opened district play at home against the rival Bulldogs, she knew it would be a tall task. In the week leading up to the game, she said her team was as focused as it’s been all season.

“Since we started out with Burnet to open district, we all tried to step it up in practice,” she said. “We knew they would be an even better team this year than they had been in the past. Practice was more intense, aggressive, and we focused more on our defensive effort. We also worked on our shooting quite a bit leading up to the game. We were good shooters last year, and hopefully we can keep that up throughout district play this year.”

When the final buzzer rang Friday, there was a sense of excitement and relief that she and her senior classmates had held their tradition intact.

“Beating them the way we did was huge for our seniors this year, because we had never lost to Burnet,” Vickers said. “They have a lot of seniors, as well, and we have played against those girls for a long time now. Many teams will think this year is their opportunity to beat us, but we were able to pull through.”

Vickers, who is known more for her defensive prowess, said she made scoring a priority leading up to the game. The game plan for the Lady Panthers was simple: frustrate their shooters and hit your shots.

“I was motivated and have become more confident in my shooting,” she said. “During practice, we do lots of drills to help improve our shooting, and Coach Lange is always encouraging me to shoot more. He has always been on me about shooting more, so I am trying to step up to that. Defensively, we knew who the shooters for Burnet were from the beginning. We had more defense on their talented shooters and sagged off some of the other ones. We worked together to make sure they did not get hot, and our game plan worked.”

Head Coach Chris Lange said Vickers’ contributions against Burnet were much needed and timely.

“She hit an important three-point shot in the corner in the third quarter when we absolutely needed a score,” Lange said. “She is a player that usually does not score much, and we really needed her Friday night and she delivered.”

As the Lady Panthers move forward in district play, they know there will be more challenges ahead and more teams hoping to knock them off.

“Burnet and Lampasas should be our toughest opponents in district, and we play both to open district play,” she said. “Having to beat both of those teams twice will be a challenge for us. The win over Burnet helps to build our confidence. Throughout our preseason, we had a tough schedule. We had some instances where we did not play so well against higher classification schools, so to start district the way we did will help us build momentum going forward. As seniors, we want our legacy to be that we worked hard as a team and helped everyone. We also don’t want it to be forgotten that we still beat Burnet.”

Vickers and the Panthers now hold an overall record of 9-15 (2-0 in district play) after their second district win of the season against Lampasas on Tuesday.

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