“Long time coming” – Lady Sharks win district for 1st time in 50 years

Published 12:19 am Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Fifty years have passed since the Sabine Pass Lady Sharks basketball team clinched first place in their district. The Sharks secured the top spot in District 24-2A on Friday after defeating visiting Evadale 42-25.

“It’s been a long time coming,” head coach Cody Almond said. “There’s been a couple of third places and fourth places, but actually being top of the district is a first. Actually being just by yourself at the top is a first in those 50 years.”

The Sharks stand at the top of the district with a 6-1 mark and 16-4 record overall. Tonight will be the last of the regular season district games, with Sabine Pass playing at West Hardin at 6 p.m.

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A big part of the year’s success comes from having a great group of athletes, Almond said.

“Having the basketball talent, that helps because that’s something the school’s always been lacking,” he said. “Getting basketball players, that’s the key. We have basketball players now and not just kids that play basketball. That’s the big difference.”

Those players include three sisters: senior Jamesia Jones, sophomore Nevaeh Jones and freshman leading scorer Charnel Jones. Though Jamesia Jones will be graduating along with Derriah Graham and Brooklyn Dixon, the rest of the Sharks’ team is packed with freshmen and sophomores, which Almond says bodes well for the team’s future.

“It helps to be young,” Almost said. “We’re losing two key contributors at the senior spot but that’s something that we’ll be able to replace with our youth. With all the girls we have at sophomore and freshman, I think it’ll be easier to keep this pace up than past years.”

As the first-place team, the Lady Sharks will face the fourth-place team of District 23 in the first round of the playoffs next week, which will give them a better chance at a deeper run in the postseason, Almond said.

“Getting first place helps a lot,” Almond said. “Actually a team that we could possibly play is a team we’ve already played and we already won [against], so that matchup would obviously help us out because we’ve seen them before, but then we go to the second round, they get much, much tougher. Prospects look good for our first round; second round will be a little tougher.”

Almond said he knew going into his first year as the head coach that he had a talented team, but he needed his girls to buy into his new coaching philosophy.

“They bought in from Day One. We’ve never looked back. Since their first game, I knew this could be special, and it has been,” he said. “The growth has been tremendous, just like any first-year coach with any new team. You’ve got to get to know the kids first, you’ve got to know their strengths and their weaknesses, and honestly we had a lot of weaknesses when we started this season. Now everything has worked out. We make our layups more. We make our free throws more. Shooting is better. Rebounding’s better. All around across the board, every bit of the game has gotten better for our team.”

For Almond, his contribution to this first place Lady Sharks team is his deep familiarity and knowledge with basketball.

“I’ve played basketball, I watch basketball, I study basketball, and I think with that comes knowing how to teach it and knowing how to run through the motions of every play and knowing every aspect of what you need to coach,” he said. “That just me being part of basketball my whole life gives me the opportunity to coach at this level.”