By Bill Spinks

By Bill Spinks

Herald Democrat

Sherman High School is asking its fans this week to "think pink."

The school is going all-in during the final full week of October to raise awareness of breast cancer. The volleyball team held a "Pink Out" on Tuesday night, and the same is planned for tonight’s football game against Lovejoy.

The SHS student council is asking the community to "Pink Out" Bearcat Stadium. All spectators are requested to wear as much pink as possible to support the cause.

For Sherman’s volleyball team on Tuesday, the mission struck very close to home.

The Lady Cats have made huge strides this fall, including a winning record for the first time in eight years, and are still mathematically alive for a playoff berth.

They stayed so with a bit of inspiration from Kim Bell, the mother of a freshman player, who is battling breast cancer.

"She sent us a message and said she wanted the varsity to beat McKinney North for her," head volleyball coach Cynthia Bruton said. "We dedicated the game to her. She was our motivation."

It worked as the Lady Cats recovered from dropping the first set to win the next three in a row and upset McKinney North to stay in the District 13-4A playoff race.

Tonight will be Senior Night for the Lady Cats, and four seniors — Kelsey Lillis, Jayzhia Softly, Sami Powers and Kelsey Jarvis — will be honored at their final home match at 5:30 p.m. against Lovejoy. The regular season ends Tuesday night at archrival Denison.

*Scot-free schedule*

Realignment day is more than three months away, but the 2014 and 2015 non-district football lineup is already beginning to take shape for the Bearcats.

Sherman has renewed non-district agreements to play Little Elm and Sulphur Springs home-and-away but won’t be continuing the series with Highland Park, which instead will be picking up Prosper.

"Highland Park dropped us," Bearcats head coach Gary Kinne said. "I guess that was the direction they decided to go. We liked playing them and we weren’t going to drop them. We’re not scared of them."

Little Elm has been on Sherman’s schedule every year since 2008, and Sulphur Springs and Highland Park since 2010. Sherman and Sulphur Springs were members of the same district in 2010 and 2011.

Kinne said Little Elm and Sulphur Springs are the only schools he currently has agreements with, and that he is still searching for a third opponent to replace the Scots.

Of course, if either school is aligned into a district with Sherman — Sulphur Springs, of course, is a former district rival, and Little Elm is geographically close enough to raise the possibility — the Bearcats would have to find a replacement.

*A head start*

Kinne is intrigued by the University Interscholastic League’s decision to announce classification cutoff numbers in advance for the first time.

This year, the UIL plans to release the cutoff numbers in November, a change from the past, when the cutoff numbers and new district alignments were rolled out all at once in early February.

"That’ll be interesting," Kinne said. "We’ll at least know where we are because we’ll know what we turned in. We won’t know what everybody turned in, but as coaches we can call around and find out."

One thing Kinne noted is the possibility that two teams in the same classification could agree to a non-district game and then find out in November that they are in different classifications, or even two classes apart.

The UIL’s "Snapshot Day" is today, when member high schools submit their enrollment numbers to the governing body. The UIL will rank enrollments from top to bottom and will determine where the dividing lines between classifications — and divisions within classifications for smaller schools — will be.

UIL athletic director Dr. Mark Cousins said last week the early release is to provide more transparency to the realignment process and to aid coaches in non-district scheduling.

The new districts will be announced on Monday morning, Feb. 3.

*To the point*

Second-year head coach Greg Nix has plenty of unanswered questions as basketball practice officially opened Wednesday for the Bearcats, who lost six seniors and seven total players off last year’s 19-win playoff club.

Senior Tre’ Mask, a two-time all-district first-teamer and an all-around impact player each of the last two seasons, is still busy with football, of course. But junior J’Lynn Thompson, who also was named first-team all-district, is in the gym.

Mask and Thompson will be the only two returning Bearcats with varsity experience. Harold Johnson, a junior who split time between varsity and JV last season, has transferred to Texoma Christian, leaving a vacancy at point guard.

"The No. 1 question is who can handle the point," Nix said. (Sophomore) Banner Sullivan ran the point in JV last year, and he will get a shot at it. I don’t want to play Tre’ or J’Lynn there; I like them off the ball."

The Bearcats’ new season begins Monday, Nov. 18 on the road at Sanger. They will scrimmage at Ponder Nov. 2 and at Van Alstyne Nov. 7.