Panola County athletics sure had a rollercoaster wave of moments in 2021.

From Beckville winning their second 2A state volleyball title in four years to the Carthage football team losing their at-the-time state leading active win streak at 41 games in the playoffs.

Both teams’ journey through their respective seasons was something to see.

Beckville made it through the entire season without ever dropping a regulation five-set match and only dropped a single set through their entire playoff run. That included beating previous state champion Iola in four sets to make it to the state tournament before ultimately sweeping both state matches to hold up the biggest trophy in their sport.

The Ladycats finished the season with a 47-3 record and had junior Avery Morris named 2A State Tournament Most Valuable Player.

Morris was joined on the All-State team by teammates and her best friends Kinsley Rivers and Sophie Elliott.

Morris, Rivers, Elliott and teammate Amber Harris were all garnered All-State honors for their tremendous success this past season.

Beckville wasn’t the only local school that had tremendous success in volleyball this season as Carthage captured their fourth-straight district title.

Senior Faith Kruebbe, a Southeastern Oklahoma State commit, was named Most Valuable Player upon being named to the All-State team for the Lady Bulldogs.

Carthage went 37-5 on the season and only dropped two five-set matches on the season — and that came to Beckville in five sets and the season ending sweep at the hands of China Spring.

Speaking of China Spring, that school definitely did Carthage dirty as they ended both the volleyball and football teams’ seasons.

Both were surprising losses, as the Lady ‘Dawgs came into their match-up against the Lady Cougars off arguably their most impressive win of the season against La Grange 25-12, 25-11, 25-19 — only to get swept right back by the Lady Cougars.

Then there was the Carthage Bulldogs.

A team that had won 41-straight games, including against a Gilmer team that made it back to the 4A Division II state title game again this season.

It was one of those things were until someone actually beat the Bulldogs, it was hard to fathom seeing it happen after some rather impressive non-district wins.

But on Nov. 26, the night after Thanksgiving, it happened. China Spring defeated Carthage 27-17.

The Cougars came into that game a perfect 12-0 and remembered being blown out by Carthage the previous season in the playoffs.

The stars aligned with China Spring that night and they just so happened to punch the big bad wolf in the mouth in the process.

China Spring validated their win over Carthage by winning the 4A D-II this season.

Beckville had their most all-around successful season on the gridiron in school history this past season.

The Bearcats obliterated the competition in the regular season en route to District 9-2A Division I district title and the school’s first 10-0 season in school history.

Beckville kept that momentum rolling into the postseason with a pair of victories over Joaquin and Hearne before ultimately falling to powerhouse Timpson 42-21.

Ryan Harris became the first-ever player to be named the Built Ford Tough Player of the Week twice in his high school football career this past season.

The Gary Bobcats basketball team saw their hopes of reaching the Regional finals come to an end following a tough 48-46 loss to Grapeland.

This was Gary’s year to really make a serious run after capturing the district 23-2A title.

The Bobcats had a team chalked full of stellar seniors led by Ryan Ecker. Gary finished the season with a 26-3 record.

In a year where things got back to relatively back to normal, Panola County athletics had its share of tear-jerking moments of celebration and anguish.

For Panola County athletics, let them be far greater than they are bad. So here’s to 2022 and the moments are both good and bad— but hopefully far more good — the New Year brings in.

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