The concept of girls playing with boys is a very charged one in the state of Texas. Just not at Dawson High School.
The school in Welch, Texas found itself in a pickle when both the boys and girls basketball teams found themselves needing to combine after both lost members of their rosters following the winter break. As reported by the Associated Press’ Kristie Rieken, the circumstance is the kind of thing that can emerge from a town with a population of just 222.
Dawson basketball teams played separately before the holiday break, but nagging injuries often left the five-girl team with just three healthy players. And after two of the seven members of the boys team returned to South Texas after their migrant-worker parents finished seasonal work, the school’s two coaches and Fleenor decided to meld the group into one team to guarantee a complete season.
The University Interscholastic League, which regulates public high school sports in Texas, approved the consolidation with the condition that the team play a boy’s schedule through the season.
“The girls were in trouble, the boys were in trouble,” coach Ed Robison said. “It wasn’t that we saved the girls program or the boys, but we were able to help out both programs by combining. At least we have a stable team that will show up and be able to play every night.”
That stable team includes a female star as an anchor of the starting lineup. Murissa Horton, a 5-foot-6 guard, is one the team’s regular starters. She’s had to adapt to a new role, dropping from the 20 points-per-game she averaged playing the girls schedule to a more statistically marginal one, if no less important. She has also received plenty of praise from opposing coaches.
“That Horton girl can play, I would take her anytime,” Sands coach Billy Grumbles told the AP.
Horton’s fellow senior, Donovan Thornton, said he was excited that the team was allowed to continue because of the merger, just perhaps not some of the skepticism that opposing coaches have had about the combined group.
“It does upset me because we came together just to play basketball,” Thornton told the AP. “We want to play basketball and the fact that people want to downgrade us, it’s not right.”