By Jason Chlapek

Killeen Daily Herald

SALADO – It's all coming back to Kay Matthews now.

The memories of the 1998-99 Salado girls basketball season were fresh in the mind of Salado High School head principal on Thursday during a send-off pep rally for the current Lady Eagles hoopsters, who faced Woodville in a Class 2A state semifinal contest at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin.

Two of Matthews' three daughters – Kathy and Melissa – were members of the 1998-99 Class 2A state runner-up team, which defeated Farwell 39-37 in the semifinal that year on a pair of free throws from Melissa in the final second of play. The Lady Eagles lost to Hughes Springs 61-33 in the championship game 10 years ago.

"To experience a state basketball tournament as a mother and then as a head principal 10 years later is great," Kay Matthews said. "This has been a great season, and the community has had tremendous support for the girls."

Matthews' daughters are part of a set of triplets, which also includes Lori, a member of the 1998-99 Salado girls golf team that went to the state tournament that year.

Matthews was an assistant principal at Tom Arnold Elementary in 1998-99, but took the head principal position at the high school a few years later. She has run Salado High School for the last eight years.

Matthews is a big believer in tradition as well. This is why she called for a school holiday for the high school – just like SHS did 10 years ago.

"We called off school the last time the girls went to state, and we did the same thing for the boys basketball team when they went to state a few years back," Matthews said. "We wanted to keep that tradition alive."

Of course, Matthews didn't call for a school holiday last year when the Salado baseball team won a state championship. That's because the state baseball tournament occurred during the first week of summer vacation.

According to Matthews, approximately 570 tickets to Friday's game were sold at the high school in a 24-hour span. And several of those ticketholders were likely in the crowd of well-wishers who greeted the current Lady Eagles on their way to Austin for the game.

Everyone from parents, students, teachers and administrators were present, as was the Salado band, which also experienced an award-winning week. The band claimed sweepstakes in a contest earlier this week.

While this has been a good week to be a Salado Eagle, Matthews is looking forward to the remainder of the school year as well.

"Who knows what else may be accomplished," she said. "Our baseball and boys golf teams still have state championships to defend, and we also have girls golf, tennis, softball and track. With kids and parents like we have at Salado, it's an honor to be a part of this."

Contact Jason Chlapek at or (254) 501-7565.

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