Their Playing Basketball
One of the most successful athletic programs in Gunter High School history has been the Lady Tiger Basketball team. With 16 girls continuing their careers in college, 28 straight appearances in the playoffs, and 3 appearances at the State Tournament, it might be surprising to know that it was not always so successful.
The girls’ basketball program was established in the 1950’s, but little time and attention was focused on the sport. Most of the girls had never played basketball until they had entered high school, which resulted in poor records and no appearances in the playoffs. In fact, during the 1978 season, the girls did not win a single game. The team needed a change and they got just what they needed with the arrival of Don Hankey in 1986.
Don Hankey, principal of Gunter High School and Junior High at the time, stepped in during the middle of the year and with the help of star player Angie Gentry, turned the program around. With a state qualifying team from Oklahoma on his resume, it is no surprise that ever since then Gunter girls have been known for the sport of basketball. Coach Hankey had his girls improving their skills by working on ball handling and doing plenty of shooting drills, and he also made them more competitive by having controlled scrimmages and keeping stats at every practice. Even though the team did not make it to the playoffs (only one team advanced during this time) during the four years he was coach, they beat the eventual State Champion, Celeste, who starred future WNBA player Shalonda Enis on their team.
During the 1990’s, the school hired Coach Barry Smith to lead the team and he did not disappoint. Coach Smith coached from 1990-2002, and during those twelve years he led his team to the State Tournament (2A) three years in a row. The 1996 team, led by All-State twin guards Amy and Jill Sutton, finished the season with a record of 32-2 and a State Runner-up trophy. By the conclusion of Smith’s career, he had become the winningest women’s coach in Gunter history, had led the team to the playoffs in each of his seasons, and had developed numerous players who would continue their careers at the collegiate level. Thanks to Smith, Lady Tiger basketball was now a force to reckoned with.
After Smith’s retirement, Bruce Keatts took on the position of head coach and kept the consecutive playoff streak alive for the Lady Tigers. Keatts won over 280 games as head coach, and had two seasons of undefeated district play (14-0). Local teams such as Krum, Ponder, and Slidell were their most competitive rivals during this time. Along with the fond memories and fun times, this program has, and continues to, produce many college level players. Some of the notable alumni that have donned the Lady Tiger uniform are: Angie Gentry (Tarleton State University), Jill Sutton (Texas Christian University), Amy Sutton (Texas Christian University), Amy Kemp (West Point), and Joey Bailey (University of Arkansas – *leading scorer in the history of Gunter’s program.)
Some would argue that the only changes over the years in the game of women’s basketball are the strength and speed of the girls, but the one consistent force that everyone in Gunter can agree on, is that the fire, drive, and passion is still burning bright for the Lady Tigers.
|Jeanne Harrison||Grayson CC|
|Linda Hunter||Paris Junior College|
|Angie Gentry||Tarleton State|
|Brandi Streetman||Howard Payne|
|Lindsay Smith||University of Texas at Dallas|
|Mandy Lewis||Paris Junior College|
|Ashley Streetman||Trinity Valley Junior College|
|Amy Kemp||West Point|
|Brittany Millar||Austin College|
|Shannon Harrison||Grayson CC|
|Kaylea Johnson||University of Science and Arts Oklahoma|
|Rachel Campbell||South Plains|
|Regan Hestand||Wayland Baptist University|
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