Before turning our attention to the fast-approaching new school year, a quick look back at some of the best Anna and Melissa high school sports moments from 2018-19 is in order.
It was clearly a memorable year with plenty of records set and a multitude of notable performances. There were so many great moments, in fact, that our Top 5 list for each school was bumped to a Top 7.
By the way, congratulations to all the Lady Cards, Cards, Lady Coyotes and Coyotes - and their coaches - for the sacrifices made to compete and excel on the field, the court and in the classroom. You’re all winners for that.
Now – let the countdown begin.
TOP 7 ANNA SPORTS MOMENTS
No 7: Reno’s late field goal downs Van Alstyne
On Sept. 14 at Coyote Stadium, kicker Gavin Reno’s rain-soaked 20-yard field goal with 2 minutes left to play boosted Anna past Van Alstyne, 30-29. A converted soccer player, this was Reno’s first real pressure kick with a football. “It was a lot of nerves,” he said. “I just put my mind to it and kicked the ball like I usually do.”
The Panthers had one last shot, aided by a pass interference call and a referee’s inadvertent whistle that put seconds back on the clock for a 45-yard field goal try. The kick was short and Anna’s celebration began.
“We found a way to keep plugging away, overcoming a lot of things,” Coyotes head coach Jason Heath said. “It’s a testament to those guys. … I was proud of them for the way they kept finding a way to win. There were a lot of things on that final drive that didn’t go our way.”
Anna twice rallied from two-touchdown deficits in this one. Coyotes running back Dorian Allen roamed for 153 yards on 16 carries, with an 80-yard scoring dash in the second quarter. Quarterback Fernando Rodriguez tossed two touchdown passes to Emmonte Davis and logged a rushing TD himself. Abner Dubar posted a team-high nine tackles for the Coyotes.
No. 6: Anna team tennis reaches first-ever regional tourney
Anna defeated Krum, 10-5, in the Class 4A regional quarterfinals on Oct. 22 at Denton Braswell High School, advancing to the team-tennis regional tournament for the first time in program history.
Winners for the Coyotes were Rowdy Lairson and Jesus Garrido in Boys Singles; Mary Beth Geren, Andrea Alvarez and Angel Dube in Girls Singles; Zachari Eade/Addy Schofield in Mixed Doubles; Garrido/Lairson in Boys Doubles; and Dube/Geren, Alvarez/Olivia Simmons and Macy Davis/Nalyn Koenig in Girls Doubles.
“This was big for our program,” Anna head coach Vince Sharp said. “We’ve made strides every year and now we have a new first. It’s pretty exciting for this program and for these kids.”
No. 5: Late bunt lifts Lady Coyotes past Melissa
On April 9 at Anna, the Lady Coyotes and Melissa were locked in a 1-1 tie in the bottom of the seventh inning when Carly Fullenwider came to the plate with two outs and Shelby Dombrowski on third base. It was Fullenwider’s first plate appearance of the game.
On the first pitch, she laid down a perfect bunt to the left side, sending Dombrowski sprinting home from third with the winning run. The Lady Coyotes stormed from the dugout in wild celebration as then-Anna head coach Lindsey Gage raced across the diamond to hug Fullenwider.
Dombrowski finished 2-for-2 at the plate and tallied a game-high three stolen bases. “We have to do whatever we can, especially in this game,” she said. “They’re our biggest rival. This team has never been so good before.”
Said Anna pitcher Hannah Howell, “I’m so proud of my team this year and how we have each other’s backs.”
The Lady Coyotes’ victory completed a two-game season sweep of Melissa for the first time since 2014.
No. 4: Coyotes soccer claims first district title as records fall
Head coach Matt Ellis and the Coyotes scored the program’s first-ever district championship this year with a 5-0-3 march through district play. Along the way the team racked up program-bests in goals scored (47), wins (13), shutouts (7), fewest losses (5) and total goal differential (18) – and even had its first-ever college signee, forward Gavin Reno.
The Coyotes went on to post a thrilling 5-3 penalty-kick win over Faith Family Academy on March 28 in the bi-district playoffs, with senior Isaac Nino booting home the game-winner. Nailing the Coyotes’ other crucial PKs that night at The Colony High School were Reno, Jerrod Roberts, Jesus Garrido and Gustavo Martinez. Goalkeeper David Joaquin also made a monster save on Faith Family’s third PK try.
“After graduating 12 players last year … I wasn’t quite sure where we were going to be,” Ellis said at the Anna Sports Awards on April 29. “It was a year of many firsts and a lot of that I attribute to our great group of seniors.”
No. 3: Davis wins second-straight state powerlifting title
Macy Davis claimed her second-straight Class 4A state powerlifting title on March 15 in Waco. The senior finished with a 1,040-pound total lift - 55 more than the second-place winner in her weight class. Davis’ total included 400 pounds in squat, 290 pounds in bench press and 350 pounds in deadlift.
A three-time state-qualifier, Davis also received the 2019 Texas High School Women’s Powerlifting Association (THSWPA) Scholarship Award, which was presented to her at state.
No. 2: Lady Coyotes rally past North Lamar for Region 2 title
On May 23, Anna trailed North Lamar, 3-0, in the fourth-inning of the Class 4A Region 2 softball championship game at Texas A&M-Commerce. But with one swing of the bat, Qua Fisher tied it with a 2-out, 3-run homer to left. The Lady Coyotes then went ahead, 4-3, in the sixth on three-straight singles by Shelby Dombrowski, Amber Thille and Hannah Morland.
North Lamar evened the score once more with a run in the seventh, courtesy of an outfield error, but instead of collapsing the Lady Coyotes went to work.
In the bottom of the seventh, Anna’s Hannah Howell drove a two-out single deep in the hole at short. Then, with courtesy-runner Adrienne “Koolaid” Newman at first, Madison Gaston smacked a walk-off, 2-run double to right field to win it.
“I told myself, ‘This is what we’ve been working for, this is your time to do it,’” Gaston said. “As soon as I made contact, I thought, ‘This is it. We’re going to state.’”
Indeed, the thrilling victory sent the Lady Coyotes to the state tournament for the first time in program history.
Howell worked all seven innings in the circle, spreading six hits with two walks while striking out three. Fisher and Morland each finished 2-for-3 at the plate, and Gaston went 2-for-4.
No. 1: Lady Coyotes down Decatur in state semifinals
In the Class 4A state semifinals in Austin on May 30, the Lady Coyotes overcame being out-hit 15-4 to take down error-prone Decatur, 6-4. Hannah Morland’s 2-RBI triple in the second inning led to a 3-0 Anna lead, and singles from Hannah Price and Madison Gaston sparked the team’s push to a 6-4 fifth-inning advantage.
The Lady Coyotes’ defense and a gutsy complete-game pitching performance by Hannah Howell stranded 12 Decatur runners on base.
Howell ended the contest with a based-loaded strikeout of Lady Eagles slugger Jordyn Smith, who entered the game hitting .562 and was 2-for-4 that day with a triple.
“You try not to let nerves get the best of you,” Howell said. “My defense always backs me up so I had a lot of confidence.”
“We were struggling batting,” Anna shortstop Shelby Dombrowski said, “but as soon as we got baserunners on … someone came up with a big hit and brought them in. We just had to keep pushing.”
TOP 7 MELISSA SPORTS MOMENTS
No. 7: Cards sink Pinkston for bi-district hoops title
Melissa rallied from a 10-point second-half deficit to take down 20th-ranked Dallas Pinkston, 62-55, on Feb. 18 in the bi-district playoffs at Plano Senior High School.
Cards guard Matt Holloway posted a team-high 22 points, with 11 coming in the fourth quarter. Forward Ricky Morning added 14 points and guard Kenneth Castleberry Jr. chipped in 11, including a team-high three 3s.
With 1:20 to go, Holloway swished two free throws for an 8-point Melissa lead before Ezra Monroe and Mark Fisher hit single shots from the charity stripe for a 59-49 edge. A pair of Viking 3s cut the lead to 60-55 with 26 seconds left, but it wouldn’t be enough.
“The thing I was most proud of was we stayed the course,” Melissa head coach Eric Benton said. “Nobody panicked. We just kept playing, made some plays, made some shots. Everybody contributed.”
The Cards rolled to a 23-9 overall record in 2019 with a second-place district finish.
No. 6: Cards’ Game 3 rally stuns Sunnyvale in baseball playoffs
Things looked bleak for Melissa on May 17, trailing Sunnyvale, 3-0, in decisive Game 3 of the Class 4A Region 2 quarterfinals at Princeton. Then with two outs in the Cards’ sixth and Tyler Womack on first, Hayden Schafer singled to left. Next, Sean Turnage slapped a double to right, scoring Womack and Grayson Hurst walked. Dillon Youngblood followed with a double to right, scoring courtesy-runner Ian Keever and Turnage, and the Cards led, 4-3. Isaiah Segovia’s RBI-single to right capped the stunning turnaround.
With Melissa up, 5-3, Sam Crain came on in relief of Hurst in the seventh and, after allowing a single, retired the Raiders in order to end it.
“This was just competing,” Cards head coach Jason Russell said. “We didn’t have our best stuff tonight, all the way around. … Game 3 tonight, was a complete team effort.”
“We fight till the end and that’s when it showed tonight,” Womack said.
The series victory sent Melissa to the fourth round of the playoffs for the second time in program history.
No. 5: Lady Cards hoops claims first-ever regional-tourney berth
In thumping Dallas Pinkston, 62-49, on Feb. 18 at Richardson High School, Melissa’s Lady Cards reached a new benchmark in program history – a regional-tournament berth.
Forward Ashley Gideon poured in 21 points to lead Melissa, including a team-high 8 points in the decisive third quarter. Guard Mia Ellis and forward Charley Lane pumped in 13 and 12 points, respectively.
Melissa led, 29-25, at halftime and pulled away from the Lady Vikings in the third quarter.
“Our big thing was to try to stop their dribble penetration,” Lady Cards head coach Chris Oestreich said. “They haven’t shot it very well this year from the 3-point line, so we stayed the course with our [1-3-1 zone] defense. And tonight, we rebounded really, really well.”
“They were tough, they were physical and very fast,” Melissa guard Sally Clemmons said. “We definitely had to play to their speed, but also slow it down so we could get our offense going.”
“It’s very exciting,” Ellis said. “We came in as underdogs … and we did a really good job working together.”
No. 4: Melissa thumps Aubrey for first-ever regional-semis spot
On May 11, the Lady Cards knocked off undefeated district-champ Aubrey, 3-1, completing a two-game sweep in the third round of the softball playoffs. The Lady Chaparrals had beaten Melissa twice in the regular season and entered this series on a 22-game win streak, ranked No. 2 in the state.
This Lady Cards tension-packed victory before a full house at Anna earned the program its first-ever trip to the regional tournament.
Aubrey had tied it, 1-1, in the sixth inning and appeared to have momentum - but Audrey Solomon, leading off for Melissa in the seventh, stole it back with a home run to right field. Anna Fortenberry followed with an infield single and soon came home on Bryton Wright’s two-out double to left for a 3-1 lead.
Lady Cards pitcher Alexis Pevehouse, after allowing a lead-off walk in the bottom of the seventh, sat the next three batters in order for the memorable win.
Melissa took Game 1, 8-4, powered by three hits each from Pevehouse and Savannah Rodriguez, including two doubles apiece.
The Lady Cards finished 2019 with the most wins in program history: 26.
“This team took our program farther than anyone before them,” Melissa head coach Eric Rodgers said at season’s end. “And they’ve left lofty expectations for those that will follow.”
No. 2 (tie): Lady Cards volleyball reaches first-ever state tournament
In the Class 4A Region 2 finals at Mesquite Poteet High School on Nov. 10 the Lady Cards and head coach Frank DePaolo stopped district rival Sanger in four sets to secure the program’s first trip to the state tournament.
Melissa’s victorious ledger read, 25-18, 25-16, 19-25, 25-20.
In Set 4 the Lady Cards went up for good, 13-12, after four early ties. Separation followed at 18-14 after kills from Sophia Davis and Caroline Kasson. Big swings from Kasson and Susan Blake then sent the Lady Cards’ lead to 20-15 and two KG Matthews kills would aid the Lady Cards’ push to 23-16. A Blake service ace closed out the match.
Kasson and Blake led Melissa’s attack, supported by clutch set-assists from Charley Lane and Davis.
This was the fourth meeting of the year between the two schools. After splitting two regular-season matches, Melissa topped Sanger on Oct. 26 in the district’s first-place tiebreaker.
“There’s a saying,” DePaolo said. “‘It’s hard to beat a team three times in a year.’ I never said that [to my team]. I said it to myself, I said it to all my friends, but I didn’t say it to them. … When it gets down to it, it’s not any harder than the first time, except for the pressure you put on yourselves.”
No. 2 (tie): Lady Cards soccer wins thriller for first state-tourney berth
On April 13, Melissa and Spring Hill met at Tyler’s Rose Stadium for the Class 4A Region 2 championship. After a 3-hour weather delay, 40 minutes of regulation play and two 10-minute overtime periods the teams were knotted at 2-2.
In the penalty-kick gut check that followed, Melissa prevailed, 6-5, earning the program’s first-ever trip to the state tournament. Lady Cards goalkeeper Brittany Morgan made two huge stops on Spring Hill kicks and one Melissa attempt sailed high, leaving PK goals even at three apiece with one Lady Card try left. That job fell to Macie Robertson who promptly booted home a low laser to the left corner for the win.
“I was so nervous,” Robertson said. “I usually kick it to the top corner but I was scared it was going to go over. I did a little quick prayer in my head then I hit it.”
Hanna Waters, Reagan Eichel and Lucy Hurst kicked in Melissa’s other three PKs.
“We’ve trained for this moment,” Avila said. “I told the girls at the intermission, ‘We’re mentally tough, we’ve been working at this, we’ve been preparing for this. We’re ready.’ They just fought and fought.”
No. 1: Distance-runner Greer claims two gold medals at state
On May 11, Melissa sophomore Judson Greer claimed two gold medals at the Class 4A state track and field meet in Austin, besting the field in both the 3,200- and 1,600-meter races. His 3,200-meter time of 9 minutes, 6 seconds broke his own school record and set a new 4A state-meet record, a mark that had stood for 29 years and one he beat by 6 seconds.
Greer’s 4-minute, 14.56-second time in the 1,600 also broke his own school record. He missed setting a new 4A state meet mark in that event by less than a second.
“Winning a gold medal is an amazing accomplishment, but winning both of those distance races is incredible,” then-Melissa boys head track coach Travis Roberson said. “And to top it off, he set a new state record that may stand for a long time.”