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SPORTS: A year in review

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From staff reports

In a community like Lockhart, high school varsity sports carry added importance. With one high school, there are no cross-town rivalries.
There is just one mascot — the mighty Lion — that Lockhart’s parents, students, alumni and fans cheer for. Win, lose or draw.
After a largely joyless 2020 riddled by seasons that ended early or were pockmarked with cancellations and postponed games, Lockhart fans were hungry for the healthy return of varsity sports and were rewarded with some memorable moments.
In chronological order, here are the Lockhart Post-Register’s five favorite Lions sports moments of 2021.

BASEBALL: Lions break baseball playoff drought

The last time the Lockhart Lions advanced to the playoffs in baseball, George H.W. Bush was president, Ann Richards was the governor of Texas, and it’s likely that the parents of many of the players on the 2021 roster hadn’t met.
That’s how long 30 years is. But a 30-year playoff drought for the Lions came to an end in spectacular fashion in May, with Lockhart dispatching LASA 23-13 to clinch third place in District 17-5A.
The Lions qualified for their first playoff berth in three full decades on their home field in their final game of the season — a game that had been rescheduled four times due to weather concerns and other logistics.
“I’m just proud of these guys,” said head coach Trey Honeycutt, still dripping from the celebratory ice bucket his players jubilantly dumped over his head. “I’m excited for this year. I hated it that our 2020 seniors didn’t get a chance to play their senior season, and a big shoutout goes out to them because that team probably had a chance to do something before COVID kicked us out.”
The game had a much different feel than the last time the Lions played in a final regular season home game. In 2019, Lockhart and Crockett faced off in a tiebreaker game, with the winner earning the fourth seed and a playoff berth. The Lions lost that night in a hard-fought effort.
“This feels a lot better,” Honeycutt said. “I’m ecstatic not just because of how these guys have played, but because of how their character has developed. That was a young team that had a lot of growing up to do. Our team chemistry has been amazing and the guys have really bought into the program.
The Lions’ season ended in their bi-district playoff round, where they drew the No. 2-seeded Elgin Wildcats, who surged to a 2-0 series win.

SOFTBALL: Lady Lions battle Hawks and weather in memorable series

The Lady Lions went undefeated in District 17-5A play in 2021, capturing the top seed and routing Hendrickson in the bi-district round of the playoffs.
The Lady Lions’ noteworthy season ended in the area round when they clashed with the New Caney Lady Eagles, who emerged from their area round bout with a 2-0 series sweep.
But before that loss, Tamar Reyna logged a pair of home runs to lead Lockhart to a 2-0 bi-district win over Henderson in a series that suffered multiple weather delays.
Not even Mother Nature could slow down Lockhart that weekend. While lightning lit up the Texas sky on Friday and Saturday, prompting a pair of last-minute venue changes for the bi-district softball contest, it was the Lockhart bats that were lighting up the scoreboard in a 19-3 win followed by a 16-4 victory.
Tamar Reyna legged out a three-run, inside-the-park home run in Game 1 that helped spark an eight-run second inning that made the score 9-0 going into the top of the third. The Lions added another nine runs in the bottom of the next frame thanks in large part to doubles from both Melecia Pereda and Leah Herrera to make the score 18-0 with three innings down. The Hawks were finally able to get on the board in the fourth with three runs, but the game was called after the fifth inning due to the 10-run mercy rule. 
Herrera got the brunt of the work in the circle, earning the win with four innings pitched, two hits allowed, no earned runs and seven strikeouts. Vega got the save with two hits and one earned run allowed. 
The Hawks came out hot in the second game, scoring four runs in the first inning to grab an early lead, but Reyna’s second homer of the series was the turning point. The hit — this time a traditional homer over the centerfield fence — gave Lockhart a 5-4 lead in the top of the third. 
The Lions would not trail again. 

FOOTBALL: Lions wash taste of winless 2020 away

An entire season is a maddeningly long period to go without a football win, and that’s what happened to the Lions in 2020.
But as the sun rose on the 2021 football season, the Lockhart Lions started things off right with a 33-29 win in their home opener against Victoria West, ending a losing streak dating back to the 2019 playoffs in a thriller against a Class 5A opponent coming off a banner season.
It took a fourth-quarter interception, a 75-yard drive and a last gasp by the the defense to put away the Warriors, an 8-4 team last season that picked up yards in chunks and seemingly scored at will all night against the Lions, who claimed their first victory in 10 games after Victoria West wide receiver Dion Green caught a Hail Mary from QB Jordan Thibodeaux 15 yards short of the end zone as time expired.
Lions Head Football Coach and Athletic Director Todd Moebes said he was proud of the mental toughness his team showed in a game that featured multiple lead changes.
“Our guys are warriors, they’re fighters by nature,” Lockhart Head Football Coach and Athletic Director Todd Moebes said. “These were two great football teams that were fighting all night. Every kid that played on both teams, you tip your hat to all of them. I mean, it’s a hot humid night here in the first game of the season with a lot of momentum shifting.”
The Lions finished the season in sixth place, recording two wins in the program’s last year in its current district alignment, but appear set at quarterback next year with Ashton Dickens returning as a seasoned veteran for his junior season in 2022.

The Lockhart Lions Varsity Boys Cross Country team has continued to be one of the area’s most consistent, long running success stories. And that didn’t change in 2021.
The team led by Coach Scott Hippensteel qualified for the State Championship for the 22nd time in the past 32 seasons. It was the third time the program made it to the State Meet in the past four years.
The Lions finished as the Regional Runner-up on Oct. 25 at Kate Barr Park in Huntsville, Texas on the campus of Sam Houston State University. It was the fourth time Lockhart was the Regional Runner-up. Lockhart had previously finished second in 2005, 2009, and just two years ago in 2019.
The Lions finished 15th at the Class 5A State Meet to close out the season. To put things in perspective, there are 256 Class 5A high schools in Texas.

VOLLEYBALL: Lady Lions earn historic win

The Lady Lions volleyball program recorded its first-ever playoff win against Pflugerville in an arduous, five-set match in the bi-district round.
Fresh off a four-set win over Ann Richards in the play-in game that gave Lockhart a third-place finish in District 17-5A, the Lady Lions cruised to a 25-21 victory in their first set against Pflugerville.
But the visiting team wasn’t going to be an easy out, beating Lockhart 25-20 and 25-15 in the next two sets, leaving the Lady Lions in a 1-2 hole.
Two sets later, the Lady Lions reserve players leaped off the bench to greet their teammates after they had pulled off the improbable: a 25-14 win in the fourth set and a 15-7 drubbing in the final set, giving Lockhart its first-ever bi-district volleyball championship.
“The girls could have given up, but instead they dug in and fought back,” Lady Lions head coach Shelly Harris said.
Key leaders in the historic win include Mylah Johnson, who had 11 aces and 17 digs, Anissa Mitchell, who had 21 kills and 16 digs, Layla Chambers with 35 digs, Giselle Roque with 38 assists and Jada Edwards with 7 kills.
The historic win came in Harris’s first season as head coach of the program.
Athletic Director Todd Moebes said the win was the type that changes expectations not just for a season, but for a program.
“For them to go out and attack the way they did, and show resilience the way they did, down two games and executing when they had to execute, was just tremendous. Not only is it a great program win and a great school win, but it’s a great lifelong experience that not only the girls on the team, but the whole community, can look back on and cherish forever,” Moebes said.
The season came to a close in the area round, but the team has rightfully earned its place in Lockhart sports lore.

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