The flu has been ravaging the Metroplex, and on Friday, it dealt a big blow to the Plano East girls basketball team.
In a District 6-6A game with huge playoff implications, the Lady Panthers played without star senior Emilie Austin, who was sick; that left the majority of the scoring responsibility to junior Tavy Diggs.
Allen, sensing that Diggs was option Nos. 1, 2 and 3, bottled up the star junior en route to a 64-40 Lady Eagle win that put East, at 6-7, in a must-win situation on Tuesday against Plano Senior.
Diggs finished with 15 points, but no other East player cracked double-digits.
By virtue of its season-split with Wylie – which also entered Friday’s games with an identical 6-6 record in district play and fell to 6-7 with a 57-45 loss to McKinney – East will need to win Tuesday and hope for a Wylie loss to claim the fourth and final playoff spot outright. If Wylie and East both end Tuesday with identical records, the two schools will have a play-in game to determine the fourth seed in 6-6A.
“Every night is a must-win, and we came into tonight feeling like we controlled our own destiny,” said Cherilyn Morris, East head coach. “Regardless of what Wylie does, we know we still have a chance. “
Allen, on the other hand, has little to worry about other than playoff positioning, as Friday’s win put the Lady Eagles at 10-3 and behind only Plano for the top spot in 6-6A.
With only Diggs and backup Camryn James available to man the middle on Friday, Allen’s post duo of Zoe McCrary and Klaire Bentley feasted with 18 combined points and double-digit rebounds.
“We had a bit of a lull there in the second quarter, but I thought [McCrary and Bentley] in particular were really aggressive tonight,” said Teresa Durham, Allen head coach. “It was important for us to establish ourselves inside, and we just kept telling them, throw it in deep, throw it in deep.”
East outscored Allen, 14-11, in the second quarter behind the hot shooting of Lexi Bradstreet, but the Lady Eagles dominated in the third period, taking an eight-point lead and turning it into an 18-point lead that East couldn’t climb out of.
Sydney Hardeman scored nine points for Allen, and Tyler Jackson hit double-digits with 10 points.
Allen may be looking at a seeding game following Tuesday’s contests, but for second and third place. The Lady Eagles and McKinney split the season series and are both 10-3 in 6-6A, so either a seeding game or a coin flip could determine the two teams’ fate depending on Tuesday’s results.
Wylie’s loss to McKinney Friday keeps the door open for more than one East playoff possibility. However, it won’t be an easy road to fourth place – Plano, which officially claimed it second straight outright district title with Friday’s win over Plano West, will be seeking its 13th victory Tuesday against the Lady Panthers, and a Wylie win will at least ensure a play-in game.
“Tonight wasn’t our best, but we’re going to go out and practice hard and give it everything we’ve got [on Tuesday] against the best team in our district,” Morris said.
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