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Refugio girls basketball coach celebrates 400th win (w/video)

By Julie Garcia
Nov. 25, 2013 at 5:25 a.m.

Refugio head coach David Hemphill draws out a plan during a timeout in the closing game against Ganado. The Lady Cats won 35-29

REFUGIO - In his 30 years coaching girls basketball, Refugio coach David Hemphill's strategy has centered on two aspects: hard work and defense first.

The basic fundamentals have paid off for Hemphill and the Refugio Lady Cats as they procured his 400th victory last week against Robstown 57-18 and again Monday night against Ganado 35-29.

Two of Refugio's senior players, Morgan Klaevemann and Jackie Gonzalez, have been playing for Hemphill since he joined Refugio's coaching staff five years ago.

They were eighth-graders then, and they picked up on Hemphill's coaching philosophy pretty quickly.

"From the beginning, it's been go-go-go, 110 miles an hour - and it's been that way since then," Gonzalez said. "We're seniors now, so we pretty much know how he wants things."

While Klaevemann and Gonzalez agree that the 400th win was all about their coach, Hemphill credits his players for the victory.

"It's about the players," Hemphill said. "The coaches coach, but the players play. I've been fortunate to have really good teams in the past, and I have a good team now."

Hemphill's coaching career began in Benavides, before he joined the staff at his alma mater, Incarnate Word Academy in Corpus Christi. After that, he went to Bastrop and Quinlan-Ford before returning to South Texas at Refugio.

Joining an already-rich winning tradition at Refugio has been a good experience for the coach. Wearing a Refugio T-shirt anywhere in Texas prompts a head nod or two in recognition from strangers, he said.

Comparing female athletes to sponges, Hemphill prefers coaching girls to boys, he said.

"Girls want to get better. They're constantly saying, 'What can I do to get better?'" he said. "Boys, a lot of times, watch TV and want to be Michael Jordan. A girl doesn't want to be like that - she just wants to know how she can get better. She wants to be coached."

When Klaevemann found out about the new basketball coach as an eighth-grader, her love of basketball only grew from that point.

"You have to prove yourself all over again, you want to go out and play hard, and you're just doing it all for him," said Klaevemann, who scored 13 points against the Maidens on Monday.

Hemphill is proud that this milestone was achieved by his first set of Refugio players.

"I've watched them grow from seventh-graders, basically from kids to young women. I've watched them mature and get better over the years," Hemphill said.

With the 400th win on the horizon last season, the coach said that the team used it as a motivational tool.

"We were on the course to get it last year and fell a little short. They knew coming in this year how many it would take to get to that point," he said. "I'm glad it was with them. I've been with them since they were seventh-graders, so it was fun to get it with that group."

Coaching girls basketball hasn't changed much since he started three decades ago, he said.

"I like the kids to play hard. I'm a defense-first coach, and I've always prided myself on getting the kids to play hard," he said. "You can overcome a lot of things by having a good defense and just playing hard."

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