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Coach Britney Humphrey huddles with the Ladycats during a timeout (photo by Joe Watson)
The Paris Ladycats finally got that elusive first home win Tuesday night, but not before head coach Britney Humphrey had to call two timeouts in the third and final set of a 25-19, 25-11, 25-23 win in the Wildcat Gym over nearby neighbor Chisum.
“I don’t want to go to another set,” Humphries told her team during the Game 3 timeouts. The first came just after an errant kill shot gave the Lady Mustangs a 14-13 lead. After Paris surged to a 21-17 advantage, Chisum used a service ace by co-captain Jalie Swaim mixed in with 3 Ladycat unforced errors to climb back to a 21-all tie.
Humphrey, who coached previously at Chisum, then called her final timeout to once again plea with her team to pick up their intensity and focus on putting the match away. When Chisum helped the Paris cause with a long serve and unforced error to give Paris a 23-21 lead, the Lady Mustangs then called their last timeout to regroup.
A Ladycat net serve and bad spike created the final tie at 23-all before an errant Chisum kill and Peaches Jackson block ended Paris’ 2017 home win drought. The Ladycats (14-12) had lost their previous 3 home appearances.
They return to the Wildcat Gym Friday to face Bonham before ending the pre-district portion of their schedule next Tuesday, Sept. 19, at home vs. Anna. District 14-4A play begins Sept. 22 at Pittsburg.
Paris broke away from a 13-13 tie in Game 1 to take the lead for good on a crosscourt kill by Zanesha Dangerfield followed by 3 straight Chisum errors.
The Ladycats never trailed in Game 2 although the Lady Mustangs closed to within 8-7 before a kill shot by freshman Quiniya Savage, a Sunny Scruggs knuckleball ace serve, and consecutive blocks by Grace Woodby and Deagan Dingman created breathing room. A Jackson block ended the second set and put Paris on the brink of a match win with a 2-0 lead.
In previous home losses the Ladycats’ serve-receive game failed them. This time it was generally solid, anchored by libero Katy Hall. Paris had only 5 bad serves the entire match.
Paris swept both JV matches by 2-0 counts.
Jaylen Henderson, followed by wingman Travius Bronner, provides a rare bright spot for Paris on a 96-yard kickoff return at Pleasant Grove
At the conclusion of each varsity football game, Paris High band director Charles Grissom gives band students a brief synopsis of their night’s performance before issuing a final directive to pick up the pieces and head home.
“We were never here,” he reminds them.
Wildcat football fans who made the 90-mile trek east to Texarkana’s Hawk Stadium Friday could empathize. They had just watched a physical Pleasant Grove Hawks’ team thoroughly dominate the Cats for most of two and a half hours on an otherwise pleasant evening of early-season Texas high school football.
Except for a couple of moments that energized the visitors’ bleachers, the hometown Hawks methodically used their old-school, wing-T offense and impenetrable defense to power past Paris, 45-13. The Cats, down 7-28 by halftime, were never really in the game.
PG controlled time of possession and held a 363 to 146 edge in total yardage. The Hawks seemed determined to not let Wildcat senior running back Donovan Williams beat them. They limited Williams to 44 yards on 18 carries.
Junior quarterback Kobe Savage had limited success running the ball for 46 yards and he completed 2 passes for 64 yards, both to senior slot receiver Montavius McCarty, to spark the Cats’ opening drive of the game. Savage’s 10-yard TD run momentarily tied the score at 7-7.
Wildcat senior safety Jordan Furtch stopped the Hawks on fourth down on the next PG possession with an outstanding open-field tackle. However, three plays later PG had the lead for good when 300 pounder Austin Toler picked up a Cat fumble and sprinted 37 yards.
Paris was in position to regain the tie when the Hawks fumbled a punt and Travius Bronner regained possession for the Cats at the PG 31. The Cats’ offense could gain just 6 yards on 4 downs.
PG then scored on its next two drives to take a comfortable, 28-7 halftime lead.
Furtch was the Cats’ leading tackler with 15 for the game (10 solo), but that’s never a good sign for a safety because it usually means your opponent has breeched your front line of defense.
The Hawks’ ground attack was spearheaded by fullback TJ Cole (21 carries for 133 yards and 2 scores) and running back Josh Roberts (7 for 66, 2 TDs). Toler also got into the act offensively, taking a pass from sophomore QB Ben Harmon 32 yards to the house to finish off the night’s scoring.
The only break from PG’s grinding dominance came near the end of the third quarter when the Cats pulled within 31-13 on a 96-yard kickoff return by junior safety Jaylen Henderson.
The future doesn’t get any easier for the Cats (1-1), who continue a tough pre-district schedule next Friday, Sept. 15, at longtime rival Sulphur Springs (2-0). The game will begin a three-game stretch of visits to newly renovated stadiums (Sulphur Springs, Pittsburg, Liberty-Eylau).
How Wildcats’ Opponents Fared:
The Paris Ladycats hope to discover some home cooking as they close out the pre-district portion of the volleyball schedule. The Paris varsity will be searching for its first win of the season on their Wildcat Gym home court Tuesday when they host Chisum. Freshmen and JV matches start at 4:30 p.m. followed by varsity.
The Chisum match starts a string of three straight home games before beginning District 14-4A play on Sept. 22 at Pittsburg. Paris, 13-12 for the season, hosts Bonham Friday and Anna next Tuesday, Sept. 19.
The Ladycats dropped a close match last Friday at Wills Point, 21-25, 23-25, 25-22, 18-25. Senior libero Katy Hall was credited with 25 digs, while senior setter Deagan Dingman notched 31 assists. Junior Peaches Jackson posted 14 kills and 12 blocks.
The Pleasant Grove Hawks proved to be gracious guests Thursday, allowing the Paris Wildcats to win the turnover battle, 8-3, and survive with a 27-20 win in JV football at Wildcat Stadium.
There was only one sub-varsity game played Thursday as the schools combined their freshmen and JV squads. The Cats’ freshmen and JV teams return to Wildcat Stadium next Thursday, Sept. 14, to host Sulphur Springs in a doubleheader.
The Paris-PG game was not decided until the final play when a Hawk pass from the Paris 1-yard one was deflected in the end zone by Kentavious Johnson. PG had two drives in the final 3 minutes that were thwarted by the opportunistic Paris defense.
Jalen Gray returns a PG takeaway for a touchdown to protect the Paris lead
With the Cats clinging to a 21-20 lead, the Hawks had a 1st-and-goal at the Paris 3, but two plays later freshman linebacker Jalen Gray stole the ball from a Hawk ball carrier and sprinted 82 yards for an insurance score and 27-20 lead. Gray had a big role in the win, causing 2 of PG’s 5 fumbles and stopping an extra point run which would have given the Hawks a 22-21 advantage.
Paris hauled in three interceptions in the third quarter to protect a 21-14 halftime lead. Johnson had the first interception, while freshman Santwan Gray picked two. Defensive linemen Hunter O’Neal and Leander Butler recovered PG fumbles which started Paris drives that ended with a pair of acrobatic TD catches by Jadarias Dillard.
Freshman Javan Cary completed a 25-yard pass to Dillard, who out-jumped two defenders for possession for the game’s first score midway through the opening period. Kick placement holder Dyvarious Douglas took the EP snap and raced to the end zone to give Paris a lead it would never surrender, 8-0.
After PG closed the gap to 8-6, the Cats used long runs by Dillard and Johnson to score midway through the second quarter on a 7-yard run by Dillard. Rino Moore kicked the extra point to increase the lead to 15-6.
Johnson hooked up with Dillard on a 54-yard bomb with just 38 seconds left before halftime. It was Dillard’s third TD of the evening. The EP kick failed, but Paris was ready to go to the break up by 21-6.
However, PG completed a 68-yard pass with just 5.5 seconds remaining on the clock, and ran for 2 points to pull within 21-14.
Kobe Savage hands off to Donovan Williams who cuts behind a block by Elijah Ellis (photo by Joe Watson)
It took nearly three-quarters of a game, but the Paris Wildcats discovered their 2017 template for success in time to race past the Terrell Tigers, 47-20, in the football season opener Friday night at Wildcat Stadium.
The Cats scored 28 unanswered points in the final 15 minutes to overcome a 20-19 halftime deficit. With senior running back Donovan Williams rushing for 4 touchdowns among 31 carries for 224 yards, the Paris offense wore down the smaller Terrell defense.
Still, it was the Wildcat defense that set the plate for the second half point blitz. Terrell’s speedy offensive skill players were able to stay with the Cats drive-for-drive in the first half thanks to Degarian Fuller’s 103 rushing yards and some big throws by quarterback Victor Robinson.
“They popped a couple (of passes) on us in the first half,” Paris defensive coordinator Larry McFarlin said, “but those are things that can be corrected. We came out and took it to them in the second half.”
The Tigers did not cross midfield after halftime. Three Cat defenders were credited with double-digit tackles: Senior linebacker Michael Godwin with 15, junior end Vershaud Richardson 11, and senior safety Jordan Furtch 10. Godwin and senior linebacker Perry Franklin each netted 8 solo stops.
Linebacker Michael Godwin collects one of his team-leading 15 tackles with this stop of JT Richardson (photo by Joe Watson)
The Wildcat defense also cashed in points on a pick-6 by junior safety Jaylen Henderson.
The Paris offense, meanwhile, sputtered on three straight series midgame, but took advantage of superior field position to unleash a relentless ground game. The Cats’ average starting position was their own 39, compared to the Tigers’ 22.
The big Paris offensive line, missing two of its starters to injury, nonetheless overpowered the Terrell defensive front in the fourth quarter. Junior quarterback Kobe Savage was steady in his varsity debut and started the Paris points onslaught with a short TD pass to junior tight end TJ Williams. The Paris second-team offense scored the game’s final points on a 36-yard sprint by junior James Neal.
Special teams was the unsung hero, despite a couple of missed extra points. Kick coverage was outstanding, while senior Montavius McCarty and junior Luke Kyle showed potential in the return game.
Paris has a tough pre-district road ahead, starting with a trip to Texarkana Friday to face a dangerous Pleasant Grove team. The Cats won’t return to Wildcat Stadium until Sept. 29 to host Argyle.
How Wildcats’ Opponents Fared:
The Paris Ladycats surprised Class 5A Texas High by winning the opening game of their varsity volleyball match Friday in Texarkana before the taller Lady Tigers stormed back to win, 22-25, 25-16, 25-14, 25-14.
Paris, now 13-11, has an open date Tuesday before traveling to Wills Point on Friday to continue the pre-district portion of the schedule.
Sophomore Grace Woodby and junior Peaches Jackson each collected 10 kills, while Jackson added 6 blocks. Senior setter Deagan Dingman had 25 assists.
The Paris Ladycats were outgunned by Class 5A Sulphur Springs, 17-25, 19-25, 9-25, in a pre-district varsity volleyball match Tuesday in the Wildcat Gym.
The road doesn’t get any easier this week when Paris, now 13-10, travels to another 5A school, Texas High, on Friday. The Ladycats’ next home match will be Sept. 12 when they host Chisum.
Paris was swept by the taller SSHS squad 10 days ago at the Wills Point Tournament, but the Ladycats showed some outstanding defensive coverage to force 7 ties and 6 lead changes in Game 1 of Tuesday’s rematch before the visitors pulled away from a 14-all tie. Unforced errors proved to be Paris’ undoing down the stretch.
The home team regrouped to take a 4-0 start in Game 2 only to see SSHS, 15-9 and led by former Paris Junior College coach Justin Maness, go on an 8-0 run to take control. Paris closed to within a single point on two occasions before the Hopkins County team cruised to a win and 2-0 match lead.
Game 3 was a complete mismatch as the Ladycats had no answer to SSHS’ superior firepower at the net.
SSHS won both sub-varsity matches by a 2-0 count in the freshmen contest and 2-1 score in JV.
With the 2017 varsity football season home opener coming up Friday, Sept. 1, it’s a good time to remind everyone about procedures governing attendance by Paris ISD students at varsity home games.
Sections A and B (south end of the home side bleachers nearest Loop 286) are reserved for Paris ISD students only. A concession stand and restroom facilities are available for convenient student access at the south end of the stadium.
Any PISD student, grades pre-K through 12, must either sit with a parent/guardian or in the designated student sections. PISD students will be issued wristbands when they purchase their tickets. They must wear the wristbands when they enter the stadium and may not remove the wristbands while at the game.
The wristband will be used by PISD administrative staff to record visits to the concession stand and/or restroom facilities. A student will be allowed to leave the bleachers to visit that area twice during a game. If the student leaves the bleachers a third time, he or she will be removed from the stadium.
Other provisions of the policy remain the same from previous seasons:
Kobe Savage cuts behind Demetric Glover's shield block for a nice gain vs. Denison
The Paris Wildcats traveled to Denison Munson Stadium Thursday for their final preseason scrimmage before officially opening the 2017 season vs. the Terrell Tigers. Freshmen and JV squads have road games scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 31, at Terrell Memorial Stadium, while the varsity Cats host the Tigers on Friday, Sept. 1, in a 7:30 p.m. start.
Tickets for the varsity game can be purchased at the fieldhouse athletic office all week or on game days at the PHS School Store. The Terrell home opener is designated as Law Enforcement Night.
In their final public tuneup the Wildcat varsity lost to Denison, 16-0, in their controlled scrimmage that simulated regular game conditions (kickoffs, punts, extra points, change of possessions), but without live rushes on special teams. The Paris defense did a creditable job limiting the Denison offense, but the Paris offense was held to a total of 4 first downs on three scrambles by junior quarterback Kobe Savage and a nice burst by senior running back Donovan Williams.
Paris did not complete a pass during the timed half, and a Denison interception on the Cats’ first snap set up the Yellowjackets’ 43-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead midway through the first quarter.
The Cats had their best offensive production on their second drive, but it ended on a fourth-down fumble at the Denison 35-yard line.
The Paris defense then held Denison to 3-and-outs on the following two series, and a Montana Payne punt pinned the Yellowjackets at their own 1-yard line to start the next Denison drive. However, aided by a pair of face mask penalties, the Jackets were able to engineer a 99-yard scoring drive. All plays were runs, including a 1-yard quarterback TD run that extended the lead to 10-0 with 3:57 left in the half.
Denison then grabbed its second interception on the next Paris snap and put together a 40-yard drive, all rushes, that ended with a 2-yard scoring run. The extra point was missed to make the final 16-0.
The schools’ reserves then took the field and exchanged possessions with a set number of plays. Paris sophomore Do’Rian Williams scored on a long run near the end of the scrimmage.
The Paris Ladycats brought a 4-match losing streak to a grinding halt by capturing third place of the championship bracket at the Edgewood Volleyball Tournament last weekend.
Paris swept its pool play matches Thursday with wins over Canton (26-24, 25-17), Lone Oak (25-10, 25-13), and Hawkins (25-15, 25-13).
On Friday the Ladycats traveled to Sherman and fell in straight sets to an experienced Class 5A team, 11-25, 14-25, 20-25.
They returned to Edgewood for Saturday’s finals. In the bracket quarterfinals they swept Keene, 25-14, 25-10, as freshman Quiniya Savage posted 5 blocks. Paris fell to Life Waxahachie in the semifinals, 25-20, 14-25, 19-25. Sunny Scruggs and Peaches Jackson each recorded 7 kills.
The third place match saw Paris rally to beat Wills Point, 17-25, 25-20, 25-19. Deagan Dingman collected 24 assists in the win, while Jackson had 7 kills and 4 blocks.
The Ladycats have a pair of tough matches on this week’s calendar against Class 5A schools. They host Sulphur Springs Tuesday in the Wildcat Gym before a road trip on Friday to Texas High.
Home, bittersweet home.
For the second time in the past week, the Paris Ladycats lost a volleyball match on their home court to a Class 3A team they could have, perhaps even should have, beaten. Last week it was a stunning 3-set sweep at the hands of county neighbor Prairiland. Tuesday it was a 5-set marathon loss to the Leonard Tigers in the Wildcat Gym, 25-12, 25-27, 12-25, 25-20, 12-15.
Paris coach Britney Humphrey knew she faced a challenging task this season replacing graduated all-district middle blockers Dextiny Patrick and Lindi Hamner. Without the pair in this year’s lineup, the Ladycats must rely on defensive positioning and a solid serve-receive game. When those attributes fail them, as they did in their two home losses, scrappy teams like Prairiland and Leonard find themselves emboldened and primed to knock off a bigger school like Paris.
Sophomore Grace Woodby sends a winner down the line in the Ladycats’ loss to Leonard (photo by Joe Watson)
In both losses, Paris actually started strong before unforced errors and an inability to win clutch points proved to be the Ladycats’ downfall. They jumped out to a 7-0 start against Prairiland in the Aug. 15 home opener. One week later, they never trailed as they cruised to a Game 1 win over Leonard that ended on a Zanesha Dangerfield ace serve.
The Tigers regrouped for a Game 2 struggle that featured 9 ties and 3 lead changes. Still, Paris had a golden opportunity to get a 2-0 match lead with a pair of set points. An errant pass erased one of those set points at 24-23 and a net service squashed another chance at 25-24.
Leonard gladly accepted the gifts and watched the Ladycats misfire on two more unforced errors to even the match, 1-1.
The Ladycats came unglued in Game 3 as Leonard (10-5), a young team that features a pair of freshmen and a sophomore in their rotation, jumped to a 2-1 match edge.
Paris launched a comeback attempt in Game 4. The Ladycats enjoyed a 9-1 start, but the Tigers closed the gap to 13-10 before Paris resumed control of the scoreboard behind a Katy Hall service run that included an ace. A 2-handed push kill at the net by Sunny Scruggs ended the game and forced a decisive Game 5.
Paris was primed to complete the comeback with advantages of 10-5 and 11-6 before a pair of bad serves gave Leonard an opening. The Ladycats had their final lead, 12-10, but the Tigers’ leadoff server closed out the match with a 5-0 run.
The Ladycats fared better in the sub-varsity matches. The JV squad swept Leonard, 2-0, while the freshmen rallied to win, 2-1.
The Paris varsity, now 8-7 for the season, enters its final pre-district tournament Thursday and Saturday at Edgewood. All three Ladycat teams travel to Sherman Friday for matches. The next home matches are scheduled for Tuesday in the Wildcat Gym vs. Sulphur Springs.
Wildcat defense swarms to stop a Celina ball carrier in their preseason scrimmage at Wildcat Stadium (Photo by Joe Watson)
The Paris Wildcats held the first of two scheduled preseason football scrimmages Friday night when they hosted state powerhouse Celina for freshmen, JV, and varsity sessions at Wildcat Stadium.
The Cats dominated the early part of the varsity scrimmage, which consisted of 30 offensive snaps by each school. Paris outscored Celina, 3-0, during this part of the controlled scrimmage.
The teams then participated in a timed quarter that included punting but no live rushes and no returns. The Bobcats outscored Paris, 2-0, during the period on a 60-yard run and a 42-yard pass.
The Paris No. 1 offense was impressive in its first 15 plays against the Bobcats’ No. 1 defense. Senior running back Donovan Williams broke free for a 70-yard TD run off right tackle on the sixth play of the night. On the next series, the Cats quickly rediscovered the end zone when a long run by junior James Neal and Kobe Savage to Tray Johnson pass set up a 5-yard Williams scoring run. Savage then connected with a wide-open Montavius McCarty over the middle for a 65-yard TD pass to complete the opening display.
The No. 1 defense then held Celina’s No. 1 offene scoreless during their allotted 15 plays aided by fumble recoveries by middle linebackers Michael Godwin and T.J. Williams along with a quarterback sack and fumble on a pass rush by defensive end Vershaud Richardson.
Celina dominated time of possession during the timed quarter. Although the Cats couldn’t generated any offense during the quarter of play, the defense technically scored on a 20-yard fumble return by sophomore cornerback Jameon Mitchell. Under mutually agreed scrimmage rules, play was whistled dead on turnovers, so the Paris offense took the field at the Celina 20 but the possession went nowhere.
Mitchell also had an interception near the end of the quarter that was negated by offsetting penalties. Celina then scored on a long pass to complete the night.
The Cats have their final scrimmage scheduled for Thursday at Denison. The varsity season opener will be Friday, Sept. 1, when they host Terrell at Wildcat Stadium.
Remaining season tickets go on sale to the general public Aug. 21-25 at the fieldhouse athletic office.
Katy Hall’s kick-save can’t curtail Prairiland’s momentum
Paris High head volleyball coach Britney Humphrey tried everything to kick-start her team in Tuesday’s home opener match vs. county neighbor Prairiland. Ladycats senior libero Katy Hall literally tried to kick-start her teammates with an unusual, but legal, kick-save at the midpoint of Game 3.
Although Hall’s foot-dig (see photo above) kept a rally alive, the Lady Pats eventually won the point, and they went on to sweep the match, 26-24, 25-14, 25-19. The loss drops the Ladycats to 6-3 for the young season. They try to regroup this weekend by participating in the Wills Point Tournament.
It was a lackluster and disappointing loss for the Ladycats, who were coming off a 5-1 showing at the Van Tournament last weekend which earned them the consolation championship of the Gold Bracket. Paris won its pool with a perfect 3-0 record against Marshall, Arp, and Gladewater on Friday. The Ladycats lost their first match Saturday against host Van before rebounding with wins over Brownsboro and John Tyler.
The Ladycats looked primed to continue that success in Tuesday’s match in the Wlidcat Gym as they rolled to a 7-0 start in Game 1 before a double-hit error. The Lady Pats took advantage of the sideout to steady the ship and climb back into a 15-all tie. Paris held a game point at 24-23 following a Peaches Jackson winner, but an errant kill shot produced the final tie at 24-24. A Caitlyn Fosse spike and Audrey Gray ace closed out the first game for the Lady Pats.
Prairiland broke away from a 10-10 tie in Game 2 to steamroll to a 2-0 match lead behind kills from Gray, T. J. Fosse, and Brook Tuck plus a service ace by libero Kayla Spray. A crosscourt spike from diminuitive hitter Trynity Chapman ended the game as Humphrey huddled with her team in the hallway to try to shake their malaise.
Grace Woodby gets a crosscourt spike over the block of Caitlyn Fosse (Photo by Joe Watson)
Instead, the visitors continued to hold the upper hand as the third game got underway. A Grace Woodby spike found the far line and pushed Paris in front, 7-6. Then came the kick-save by Hall, also a standout on the soccer field. It seemed to energize the Paris crowd and the Ladycats. Zanesha Dangerfield earned a point with a kill shot off a block, and Deagan Dingman got a well-placed kill to regain the lead at 12-11.
When an unforced error made the score 13-11 in Paris’ favor, the Lady Pats called a timeout. They emerged from the break in play with a 4-0 run aided by kills from T. J. Fosse and Madison Clark plus another Spray ace. They had 7 match points, and while Paris fought off 2 of those match clinchers, T. J. Fosse provided the final point.
Paris won the schools’ JV match in a 2-0 sweep.
The Paris Ladycats opened the 2017 varsity volleyball season by splitting double-dual matches Tuesday at Mount Pleasant. They easily dispatched Maud, 25-11, 25-13, 25-5, but fell to their Class 5A hosts, 25-21, 23-25, 23-25, 18-25.
Senior libero Katy Hall notched a combined 49 digs, while senior setter Deagan Dingman collected 39 total assists. Junior Peaches Jackson was credited with 11 kills in the win vs. Maud, while sophomore Grace Woodby had 8 kills vs. Mount Pleasant.
Paris participates in the Van Tournament starting Thursday, then returns to the Wildcat Gym for the home opener Tuesday against Prairiland.
Paris High students earned 3 gold and 8 silver medals for their performances at the UIL Choir State Solo & Ensemble Contest over the Memorial Day weekend in Pfugerville.
A total of 19 PHS choir students had qualified for the state contest.
Seniors Tieren Gates and Deja Sikes along with junior Molly Law received superior ratings on their solos to earn gold medal awards.
Earning silver medals for excellent ratings on solos were seniors Tierra Ellis and Malcolm McCarty; juniors Javian Dabbs, Jake Freelen, and AveriMcFadden; and sophomores Akeirria Garvin, Rino Moore, and Nicholas Reed.
Freshman pitcher Saya Swain was selected as Newcomer of the Year by District 14-4A softball coaches, while eight teammates were chosen to the All-District Second Team.
Swain was a big reason for the Paris Ladycats’ competitive resurgence in 2017. Paris broke a 50-game district losing streak that dated back to 2012. The Ladycats were eliminated from the postseason by a 1-0, extra-inning loss in the season finale.
Named to the All-District Second Team were sophomore catcher Taylor Looney, junior first baseman Kammie Franklin, freshman second baseman Taylor White, senior shortstop Makayla Brown, sophomore third baseman Akerria Garvin, senior outfielder Codi Clark, junior outfielder Alexis Muse, and sophomore utility player Evelyn Brown.
The Paris Wildcats and Gilmer Buckeyes Area Round baseball playoff was delayed 42 hours due to heavy rains that rolled through East Texas this week. Once first pitch finally arrived Saturday afternoon at Northeast Texas Community College Eagle Field, it took just 92 minutes to end the Cats’ 2017 season.
In a fast-paced and error-free pitchers’ duel, the Buckeyes (16-14) advanced to next week’s Region 2-4A quarterfinal against Kilgore with a 1-0 victory that sealed the Paris season at 19-12.
Paris shortstop Zach Norris lands on his back after snaring a first-inning blooper while avoiding a collision with teammates X’Tavous Young (hands up) and Corey Allen
The game was eerily reminiscent of last week’s 2-0 win by Brownsboro in Game 1 of the bi-district series where the Bears’ only hit off Cats’ senior pitcher Phillip Sikes drove in the winning runs. This time Sikes surrendered just 4 hits to Gilmer, but the Buckeyes bunched 2 of them in the third inning to eke out the game’s only tally.
The winning rally started with a 2-out infield single by leadoff hitter Jayden Hall. Sikes struck out 11 batters in the game, but his inability to control his curveball proved his undoing. One curve broke into the dirt one foot in front and wide of the plate and bounced past catcher Zach Nation allowing Hall to advance to second base. Sikes then hung a curve ball that Jeremy Kelly blooped off the end of his bat into shallow right-centerfield to drive Hall home.
It was all the run support that Gilmer pitcher Nathan Mize needed. The lefthander allowed just 2 hits (a single by Corey Allen in the second and a bloop single by Chandler Aynes in the fourth), while striking out 5 and walking 2.
A double-play grounder ended the Cats’ second inning. In the fourth, Paris managed to combine Aynes’ hit with a walk to Sikes and a double steal to advance runners to second and third with just 1 out. But Mize fielded a bouncer to the mound to prevent the Cats from scoring and a flyout ended the threat.
The only Paris batter to reach base in the final three innings (on a walk) was eliminated by a Mize pickoff move to first.
Paris had similar lack of success in the bi-district series opener against Brownsboro lefty Jake Conner, but the Cats were able to overcome the loss by sweeping Games 2 and 3 of that series. Heavy rains this week forced cancellation of scheduled Thursday and Friday playoff action which reduced the area round to a single winner-take-all game.
Paris did manage a defensive gem when shortstop Zach Norris snared a first-inning blooper while tumbling backwards and avoiding a collision with outfielders X’Tavous Young and Allen (see picture above).
It was the final game of their careers for seniors Sikes, Aynes, Young, and Allen.
2017 Class 4A Bi-District Champion Paris Wildcats
On the brink of playoff elimination, the Paris Wildcats rediscovered their early-season mojo which had catapulted a young team with 6 new starters to a pair of tournament titles and a No. 20 state ranking. Relying on shutdown pitching and scoring runs by any means necessary, the Cats rebounded from a 2-0 series opening loss at Brownsboro Friday to maul the Bears in a Saturday doubleheader at Chisum, 10-1 and 14-2.
Paris (19-11) won the Class 4A bi-district series, 2 games to 1, and advances to this week’s Area Round against the Gilmer Buckeyes (15-14). Due to heavy rains on Thursday that forced cancellation of a scheduled doubleheader on Friday, it becomes a one-game, winner-take-all playoff on Saturday, 1 p.m., at Northeast Texas Community College (Mount Pleasant).
The Cats and Buckeyes are familiar playoff foes. Paris swept last season’s bi-district round against Gilmer in a pair of shutouts. Gilmer won an area round matchup in 2013, 2 games to 1, and Paris won a 2012 bi-district series, 2-1. The Buckeyes beat the Cats, 3-2, this season in a pre-district game at PJC’s Hub Hollis Field.
Brownsboro, the District 13 runnerup which ends its season at 14-15, won a bonafide pitchers’ duel on Friday as lanky lefthander Jake Conner shut down the Paris bats on a 2-hitter. Conner allowed a 2-out double in the first inning to pitching rival Phillip Sikes, an infield single to X’Tavous Young in the sixth, and 2-out, back-to-back walks to Zach Norris and Daniel Blackmon in the fourth. Otherwise, he was flawless, striking out 11 Wildcats.
Sikes (6-4) was the hard-luck loser. He struck out 13, walked 4, and hit a batter. The only hit he surrendered was the ultimate game-winner, a 2-out single by Braydon Ballard in the hole between shortstop and third in the fourth inning to drive home both Bear runs.
The inning started with a brilliant diving catch by rightfielder Walker Preston on a sinking liner. The next two Bears reached base on a hit by pitch and a walk. Ironically, Sikes might have escaped the damage except for a foul popup that was lost in the lights and gave the Brownsboro walker a second life. Sikes followed with a strikeout that should have ended the inning before Ballard stepped to the plate.
It was a tough loss for the Cats, but they immediately went to work preparing for a long afternoon on a sunny Saturday on Chisum’s artificial turf field. Paris coach Bill Sikes had all of his remaining pitchers participate in bullpen work before boarding the bus home in case they were needed the following day.
Baseball karma had suddenly changed uniforms. The first sign came in the second inning of Game 2 when the Cats scored their first run on an infield popup off the bat of Young that was lost in the sun. As an infielder lunged at the last second, the ball bounced 3 feet beyond his glove and allowed Preston to motor home from second base.
Karma continued its onslaught in the Paris third when the Cats scored two more runs on infield singles by sophomores Daniel Blackmon and Walker to extend the lead to 3-0.
Meanwhile, junior Zach Norris (7-1), who pitched the Cats into the playoffs with a clutch win in the regular season finale at Pittsburg, was sailing along until 3 straight infield errors in the fourth produced a Bear run. A double then put the tying runners in scoring position with just 1 out. Norris ended the theat with back-to-back strikeouts.
The Paris bats went back on the offensive with a 7-run outburst in the bottom of the fourth that put the game away. Freshman catcher Zach Nation led off the frame with a single and he ended the scoring spree with a 3-run double down the leftfield line. Corey Allen and Blackmon also had RBI in the inning, and the other 2 runs scored on an error.
Brownsboro starter Bryce Smith had reached his pitch limit and left the game as Ballard came on in relief. While the Cats couldn’t push across another run to force the 10-run rule to end the game prematurely, Sikes had the luxury to pull Norris off the mound and save his remaining 35 allowed pitches for Game 3, if needed.
Norris gave up just the 1 hit and 1 run while walking 2 and striking out 7. Blackmon pitched 2 innings and Chandler Aynes got the final 3 outs. Both Blackmon and Aynes gave up 1 hit each with pairs of strikeouts.
Senior lefthander Corey Allen (left) closes out the bi-district series by pitching Paris to a Game 3 win
Sikes sent Allen (4-1) to the mound to start Game 3. The senior had impressive wins over a pair of state-ranked teams in Godley and Farmersville along with a victory over playoff-bound Henderson, but he hadn’t seen regular duty since district began and was shaking off the effects of a week-long illness.
Still, he limited the Bears to just 2 runs and 5 hits while walking 1 and striking out 3. The game ended after 5 innings due to the 10-run rule.
Paris jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the third on a 2-out single by Young followed by RBI triples by Sikes and Allen that sandwiched a Brownsboro error. It was obvious that the Bears had exhausted their pitching in the Paris fourth when the Cats sent 15 players to the plate, scoring 9 and leaving the bases loaded.
The Bears contributed 3 errors to the Paris cause, while Walker had an RBI single and Norris had a 2-run single. Paris also got RBI walks from Sikes, sophomore Jack Davison, and Walker plus an RBI hit-by-pitch by Aynes.
The final 2 Paris runs came in the fifth inning on a 2-out double down the leftfield line by pinch-hitter Canyon Parker making his first varsity plate appearance.
Afterwards, an elated Paris coach Sikes was thrilled with his team’s comeback effort.
“Who would have believed this bunch could be bi-district champions?” he said. “This is fun. Let’s keep this going.”
Paris High continues to receive recognition as a top performing public high school. PHS recently was named a Silver Award winner in the U.S. News’ Best High Schools study.
The magazine ranked high schools throughout the nation based on four criteria: student performance compared to state averages, performances by disadvantaged students, graduation rates, and college readiness.
PHS was ranked 194 among all Texas high schools (including magnet and college preparatory schools) and No. 2,287 nationally. The top 500 schools nationally (top 2.4%) in the rankings received Gold Awards, while the next 10.3% received Silver Awards, and the next 16.8% were awarded Bronze Awards. Approximately 70% of all schools were unranked.
Among Texas high schools, 17 received Gold Awards and 118 received Silver. PHS was the only high school in Region 8 (northeast Texas) to receive a Gold or Silver Award. For more information on the rankings visit the U.S. News website.
Last fall, Paris High was the only high school in Region 8 to earn a perfect 7 of a possible 7 distinctions on 2016 campus accountability ratings by the Texas Education Agency.
PHS was 1 of 77 high schools statewide to gather a perfect 7 of 7 distinctions, which places the school in the top 6% of high school campuses statewide. Also, 38 of those 77 high schools are either magnet or early college high schools, which further distinguishes PHS as 1 of 39 traditional public high schools in Texas to achieve the feat.
The Paris Wildcats (18-10) face the Brownsboro Bears (13-13) in a best-of-3, bi-district baseball series. The Cats finished third in District 14-4A, while the Bears were runnersup in District 13.
Game 1 is scheduled for Friday, May 5, at Brownsboro’s home field, located south of the high school campus off Texas Highway 31 and behind Brownsboro Intermediate School. First pitch is set for 7 p.m.
Game 2 will be Saturday, 1 p.m., at Chisum High School’s new artificial turf field. Game 3, if necessary, will follow completion of Game 2.
The winner advances to the Area Round vs. the winner of the Carthage vs. Gilmer first round series.
by Amy Burrows
PHS Theater Teacher
Help the Paris High Theater Department earn funds for next year’s musical by solving a totally radical ‘80s Murder Mystery!
You’re invited to participate in our ‘80s Murder Mystery Dinner Theater on Thursday, May 18, 6:30 p.m., in the PHS cafeteria. The cost is $10 for students and $15 for adults.
Feel free to dress in ‘80s attire or come as you are! There will be plenty of ‘80s accessories for you to wear and plenty of ‘80s music.
Enjoy a spaghetti supper while listening to our talented students perform musical numbers and then the murder mystery fun begins. There will be prizes for best detective’s table and best costumes. You may even find you are the murder victim!
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org to reserve your seat or table or purchase your tickes from any PHS theater student. Reservations must be made by Monday, May 8.
These 74 Paris High seniors were named as Texas Scholars and recognized by the Lamar County Coalition of Education, Business, and Industry during a recent luncheon. Students were honored for completing a more rigorous schedule of courses and receiving high academic marks.
The list includes Corey Allen, Sonia Azcue, Megan Barton, Rashad Black, Brandon Cade Blackmon, Claire Brown, Grace Brown, Makayla Brown, Samuel Cannon, Codi Clark, Mollie Clement, Benton Cobb, Matthew Cochran, Mitchell Cole, Jessica Driggers, Alexandra Duncan, Tierra Ellis, Jacob Ensey,
Also, Ashlyn Fleming, Kelsey Frazier, William Gaffney, Tieren Gates, Keyton Gilbert, Alexandra Gottshalk, Dixon Grossnickle, Keith Hall, Lindi Hamner, Muchien Hang, Colin Harris, Samuel Hawkes, Brendan Henry, Kyson Hogue, Seth Hudgins, Bonnie Jackson, Dalton Kee, Jorden Kimble, Zachery Lamb, Destiny Lambert, Angelica Lopez, Ana Luna, Tazmia Mason, Josephina Mata, MaKayla McCullen, Adryan McGuire, Anahdian Mitchell, Brakeisha Mitchell, Alexis Morrison, Austin Jack Nichols, Joshua Nieto.
Also, Dextiny Patrick, Daylon Patterson, Dakoata Payne, Raden Phillips, Anthony Pierotti, Alexis Pitcock, Ashley Rodriguez, Harlen Rodriguez, Elayah Runnels, Maria Sanchez, Chelsea Savage, Brekeil Simmons, Jaylen Smith, Kelcey Smith, Isaiah Snowton, Haley Spradlin, Jacob Stripland, Soyla Torres, Nicholas Vasilakopoulos, Kiersten Ward, Arleigh White, Shelby Wilson, Malaree Wise, Sharvionna Yates, and Rachel Young.
Freshman Tatiana Washington finished fifth in the girls’ 200 meters, and sophomore Kobe Savage placed sixth in the boys’ 300 meter hurdles Saturday at the Region 2-4A Track and Field Championships at Texas A&M-Commerce.
Savage had a shot at finishing on the medal stand. He was in third place down the home stretch until he clipped a hurdle.
Dallas Carter won both boys and girls team divisions.
Paris High qualified 1 relay and 3 individuals for Saturday’s running finals at the Region 2-4A Track and Field Championships at Texas A&M-Commerce. Running prelims were held Friday afternoon. Finals have been moved up to a 9:30 a.m. start to avoid expected storms in the area later Saturday.
The Ladycats’ 4x200 meter relay team of Courtasia Dowdy, Cap Johnson, Amagane Hamilton, and Tatiana Washington posted its season-best time of 1:44.76 to qualify seventh in that event.
Individual qualifers were Montavius Mccarty in the boys 100 meters (8th), Kobe Savage in the boys 300 meter hurdles (8th), and Washington in the girls 200 meter dash (5th).
Zach Norris gets his eighth strikeout to finish off the Pirates, 5-1, and send the Cats into the postseason
There’s no place like home, except, perhaps, for that place that makes you feel at home.
It proved to be a perfect elixir for the Paris Wildcats Tuesday as they faced a must-win situation in their District 14-4A finale at Pittsburg’s venerable baseball stadium, a covered bandshell design that harkens memories of the mid-1900s when minor league baseball flourished throughout rural east Texas.
“We always seem to play well here,” an ecstatic Paris coach Bill Sikes said following his team’s 5-1 playoff-clinching win over the Pirates. “The boys were fired up about playing on this field. They love this place, and I do, too.”
The Cats, 18-10 overall, clinched the district’s No. 3 playoff seed with the win. They finished district at an even 5-5 behind Pleasant Grove (9-1) and North Lamar (6-4). Pittsburg and Atlanta are tied at 4-6 for the fourth and final playoff berth and will have a play-in game to break the tie.
In a side note, Liberty-Eylau finished at 2-8 but had an encouraging sight in their season finale Tuesday. Darian Walker, the centerfielder who was badly injured with a broken rib and collapsed lung following a collision in the outfield with a teammate in Friday’s loss to Paris, was released from the hospital in time to make an appearance at L-E’s Senior Night activities.
The game was an exact polar opposite of Pitt’s 2-1 win over the Cats three weeks ago when seven Paris errors fueled enough offense by the Pirates to overcome a no-hitter tossed by Phillip Sikes. The Pirate defense was flawless in that game.
This time the Pitt defense betrayed them, coupled with some timely Paris hitting and aggressive base running. Junior Zach Norris (6-1) wasn’t perfect, but he scattered 6 Pirate hits, walked no one, and struck out 8 batters to get the win. The Paris defense produced just 1 error that proved harmless.
The same couldn’t be said for Pitt. Paris scored its first run in the second without benefit of a hit. Jack Davidson walked and advanced to second on Daniel Blackmon’s sacrifice bunt. He raced home on Zach Nation’s 2-out grounder that was misplayed by an infielder. The same infielder took the cutoff throw from the outfield or Davidson might have been tagged out at the plate.
The Cats expanded their lead to 3-0 in the third with the help of two Pirate errors. X’Tavous Young reached on a bouncer beyond the second-base bag that was fielded cleanly, but the infielder rushed his throw wide of first base. Young then swiped second and ended up at third when the catcher’s throw sailed into centerfielder because no one was covering the bag.
Sikes, who led the Paris offense with 3 hits in the game, delivered a solid single to drive home Young. A chopper by Norris on a hit-and-run play advanced Sikes to third, and he scored on Davidson’s shallow fly just 5 feet beyond the infield dirt when the outfielder hesitated then double-clutched his throw to the plate.
Pitt scored its only run in the fourth on a two singles and a stolen base, but a pair of groundouts to Blackmon at third along with good scoop catches by first baseman Chandler Aynes got the Cats out of the inning still holding a 3-1 lead.
Paris extended the lead to 5-1 with 2 more runs in the fifth. With 1 out, Young walked and Sikes was hit by a pitch. Norris followed with an RBI single that the leftfielder dove but missed. Sikes then scored the final run on Corey Allen’s groundout to the right side of the infield.
The Pirates had one more opportunity to score against Norris and the Cats in the sixth when they notched two more hits. The freshman catcher Nation got a fortuitous return bounce off the wall on a wild pitch and caught a Pirate trying to steal second. Two more infield groundouts to Blackmon and Davidson closed off the rally.
Each month Paris High staff recognizes a student who goes above and beyond the norm of student expectations to help make the school a better place for learning. The February winner is Payne Couts. See monthly winners on our Students of the Month page.
Paris High juniors (from left) Jeremy Seals, Evelyn Brown, Ansley Downs, and Alyssa Tacuyan have been selected to attend the Rotary Youth Leadership Award (RYLA) camp. Read more.
Deon Minor Relays. Wildcat Stadium will be the site of the annual Deon Minor Relays Thursday, March 22, as the Wildcats and Ladycats track teams welcome other regional schools to this big pre-district warmup meet. Field events will start about 3 p.m. with running finals around 5:30.
District Soccer. The Paris Ladycats and Wildcats varsity soccer teams host Bonham for a District 11-4A doubleheader Tuesday at Wildcat Stadium. The girls game starts at 5:30 p.m. followed by the boys at 7:15.