GIRL'S HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL
The final touches
Published: Tuesday, January 28, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 28, 2003 at 1:10 a.m.
The Dixie County girls basketball team is building tradition and will be shooting for its fourth straight district title next month.
Four years ago, Kirby Hartsfield, a freshman guard at the time, was not real sure what to expect at the beginning of what has turned into a successful high school career on the hardwood.
"I didn't think that we were going to win one district title when I started," said Hartsfield, a four-year starter in the Bears backcourt. "After we reached our goal (freshman year), I just wanted to do it again. It will be exciting and fun to win again and I hope I do as well as I did the last three years."
If Hartsfield is able to duplicate her performance of previous seasons, it is a safe bet to think a district trophy will make a fourth consecutive trip back to Cross City.
As a freshman, Hartsfield was a contributor, but her sister, Laporsha Teague, who was a senior and also a four-year starter, averaged 14 points per game to lead the Bears past Santa Fe for their first crown in 2000. Hartsfield learned from her older sibling.
"She helped me. I think I get my leadership from her," Hartsfield said. "After she left, I just took on the leadership role."
And in that role as a sophomore and then a junior, she averaged 20-plus points per game in the postseason, resulting in two district titles and a pair of regional quarterfinal wins. After knocking off Williston to win district in 2001, Hartsfield poured in 25 points against Citrus in the opening round of the Class 2A regional tournament. Last season, Dixie County topped Chiefland, before Hartsfield netted 20 in the quarterfinal victory over Hamilton County.
"I don't think anyone at Dixie County has ever won four straight district titles as a starter in one sport," said coach Mike Thomas, who is in his seventh year guiding the Bears. "She is one of the most athletic girls that I have ever coached and her game seems to elevate at the end of the year, especially in the postseason."
Although Hartsfield, who entered this season with 1,051 career points, has excelled during playoff time, the Bears have had each of their last three seasons come to a close in the regional semifinals. Through 13 games this season, in which Dixie County is 7-6, Hartsfield is averaging 12.6 points, 6.7 assists, six rebounds and four steals per contest. Despite her point production being down from last year's average of 16 points a night, she just wants to do whatever it takes to help the Bears win.
"Scoring is not everything to me and it doesn't matter what our record is, we really focus on the district tournament," said Hartsfield, who is entertaining thoughts of playing basketball in college. "I like getting more assists and getting my teammates involved and I am doing real good on defense. But if we play as hard as we can, I think we can get (past the regional semifinals) to the regional final."
Thomas has his team in position for the four-peat and knows how much Hartsfield means to his squad.
"She has a knack for scoring, she is our best defensive player, she has matured and played unselfish. She does it all," Thomas said. "She will be missed."
But before Hartsfield leaves, she wants the Bears to achieve their goal again.
"I would love to win another district title in my last year," Hartsfield said. "That is what we are going for."
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