Diane Hurst hates losing.
It creates anger, breeds frustration, causes second-guessing and doubt and leaves a lingering sour taste in her mouth.
And that is a good thing.
“It got to the point where we weren’t even mad,” Lampasas’ senior post said. “We were just OK with losing, and we accepted it for what it was, but now if we lose, we all get mad and force ourselves to learn from it.
“So, we take every game way more seriously than before, because we want to win. We want to work hard, play for each other and play for our community.”
Proof of the Lady Badgers’ newfound aversion to defeats can be found in their record.
Winning 13 of its first 16 games this season, Lampasas already amassed almost as many wins as they did in 2015, when the Lady Badgers went 14-16 en route to the program’s first playoff appearance in 14 years.
Along the way to this year’s impressive showing, Lampasas upset teams from larger classifications, placed in multiple tournaments and, most importantly, began commanding respect.
The Lady Badgers are ranked 15th in the current Texas Association of Basketball Coaches Class 4A state poll after simultaneously being predicted to finish third in the District 27-4A standings on the same organization’s website. In the Texas Girls Coaches Association poll, Lampasas is 10th.
All the achievements are creating a change in the culture of the success-starved program, according to guard Kamri Corbin said.
“I can see a mental shift,” the senior said. “We know now that we have to play even harder, because the team we are playing wants to beat us — instead of expecting to beat us.
“We’re hungry now, and we want wins. We got use to losing, but we’re not use to that this year.”
In the late 1990s, the Lady Badgers made routine postseason appearances, reaching the area round in 1997 and 1998 before losing in the regional semifinals the following year. Lampasas returned to the playoffs in 2000 and 2001, winning just one game.
Then, the Lady Badgers’ playoff drought began, and over time, the team slowly slid into complacency.
Now, under second-year head coach Mark Myers, the Lady Badgers are aiming for a second consecutive postseason berth.
While Myers, who has more than 800 victories during his 35-year career, including a 16-year stint at perennial area power Cedar Park, always intended to bring success to Lampasas, he admits expecting a prolonged process.
The rapid acceleration, however, is due to a variety of factors.
“The girls have just decided its time for a change,” Myers said.
“They can obviously tell this is extremely important to me, and the community is seeing how important girls basketball can be.
“As a result, they are putting in the work.”
Although the Lady Badgers will graduate six seniors at the end of the season, five juniors and a pair of sophomores reside on the roster, preparing themselves to inherit the program. Additionally, participation in the sport is growing at lower levels with opportunities for children as young as fourth-graders to begin learning primary skills and the team’s basic philosophies.
Myers hopes to cultivate a rich tradition of success at Lampasas during the upcoming years with visions of district championships and deep playoff runs already making appearances in his foresight.
Regardless of what the future holds, Myers believes the current Lady Badgers are ushering in a new era.
“When we have open gym,” he said, “I’ll see a fifth- or sixth-grader make a move, and say, ‘Hey, I’m Diane Hurst,’ and another kid will make a pass and say, ‘Look, I’m (Lampasas junior guard) Abby Martin.’
“It’s just great to see the younger players trying to imitate the older girls. It gives them someone to look up, it’s a sign or respect for the players, and it’s just a really good indication about the growth of our program.”
SATURDAY’S BOYS BASKETBALL
- TAPPS 4A NO. 4 Lubbock Trinity Christian 60, Lampasas 35
Corpus Christi Coaches Association Tournament
- Harker Heights 44, CC Ray 27
Mansfield ISD tournament
- No. 1 Denton Guyer 63, No. 17 Shoemaker 60
Marble Falls Subway Classic
- Hutto 69, Copperas Cove 59
Salado Coach Smith Tournament
Salado 50, CC Flour Bluff 45
- Gatesville 54, Thorndale 49
South San Antonio ISD tournament
- Killeen 52, Keller Central 49