Undersized Mesquite contends for playoff spot

On an undersized Mesquite girls basketball team, senior Michelle Espinoza is an unsung hero in the eyes of coach Jan Newland.

The 5-foot-7 Espinoza, Mesquite's starting post, regularly goes up against the opponent's tallest player.

“I can guarantee you won’t find anybody tougher than Michelle in our district,’’ Newland said. “She’s really a hard worker.

“With our lack of height, it is very important that we do a good job of blocking out so we don’t allow the second and third shots,‘’ Newland added.

Offensively, Mesquite is led by 5-foot-5 senior guard Cemetra Jenkins, who averages 17.4 points per game. Backcourt mate Briana Caro, a sophomore averaging 12.8 points, connected on four 3-pointers (giving her 66 for the season) in Tuesday’s 47-37 loss to DeSoto, which is ranked No. 4 in ESPNDallas.com's Class 5A Top 10.

Junior forward Viershanie Latham, a 2011 Region II qualifier in the triple jump for the track and field team, pulled down 14 rebounds against DeSoto. Latham averages 10.2 points and nine rebounds.

A 61-49 road victory at Tyler Lee last Friday has helped position the Lady Skeeters as a playoff contender.

“I think we’ll be fine,’’ Newland said. “We just need to take care of business. The win in Tyler was big for our kids and I thought we did a good job against DeSoto.’’

Mesquite (17-9, 3-3 in District 11-5A) faces Mesquite Horn (12-14, 4-2) at 7 p.m. Friday on the road in an important 11-5A contest. In their first district meeting on Jan. 6, Mesquite squandered an 18-point lead and lost, 48-42, in overtime.