Moulton girls morphing into team at right moment
Feb. 23, 2012 at 11:01 p.m.
Updated Feb. 22, 2012 at 8:23 p.m.
MOULTON- This is a basketball town, one where successes are expected and celebrated with equal fervor.
That consistent community support has lifted the Moulton Bobkittens to the regional basketball tournament for the first time in four years.
Head coach John Meisetschleager believes his girls would not have defeated Barksdale Nueces Canyon and Tilden McMullen were it not for the team's loud, proud and otherwise supportive fans.
A preseason goal to advance beyond the area round, didn't hurt either.
Moulton (24-10) won its fifth straight district championship this year, and ninth time in 10 years, but for each of the past three years, that regular season abruptly ended in the Bobkittens first playoff game.
The Bobkittens playoff history may be large, but this group seeking to add to that legacy is not. Senior post Chelsey Darilek, at 5-foot-7 1/2-inches - she stresses that half inch - is the second tallest person on the team.
"Last year none of us really played in a game together," Darilek said. "We lost four senior (starters) so we had to get used to working with each other."
Senior guard Brandee Dolezal was the only returning starter, but this unified and defensively rugged team has banded together to exceed their preseason goal. Two wins separate Moulton and its first state tournament berth in seven years.
A win over Rochelle Friday afternoon would set up a regional final berth against the winner of Santa Anna and Leakey.
"It doesn't matter your size if you can play good defense," Dolezal said. Everyone can play good defense."
Dolezal led Moulton in scoring, rebounding and blocks during the regular season. But she will be the first to state that the Bobkittens are far more than her, and even more than the starting five.
In the Bobkittens two playoff games, Dolezal has continued to average 10.5 points, but senior Kendall Kristynik (15.5 points, 9.5 rebounds) has tripled her regular season scoring and rebounding figures so teams cannot exclusively focus on Dolezal.
At the beginning of the season the school's cheerleaders wrote a famous Kobe Bryant quote on a green banner and hung it up in the new Moulton High gym.
"I'll do whatever it takes to win games, whether it's sitting on a bench waving a towel, handing a cup of water to a teammate or hitting the game-winning shot."
Throughout the season Meisetschleager, has stressed unity. The offense he has instilled focuses on ball movement where all five players are threats to shoot from anywhere. The Bobkittens also know that on-court negativity will earn them a spot on the sidelines.
"I tried to build a team. I tried to keep everyone as a unit," Meisetschleager said. "I tried to make them realize its not about the five on the floor, focus on defense with the theory that everyone can play defense."
"Everyone is going to have a bad offensive game, but really you shouldn't have a bad defensive game. They knew from the get-go that defense would get them on the floor."
There is one more quote that describes the 2012 Bobkittens. It's written in liquid chalk on the bus that will take the girls to New Braunfels for Friday's game against Rochelle: "the wish bone will never replace the back bone."
In short, the girls can wish all they want, but they have to work for their dreams. Dolezal, Darilek and others are ready to seize their opportunity.
"We have never won a state championship," said senior guard Casie Zimmerman. "It would be amazing to go to the state tournament and make memories."