Allen girls basketball

Allen senior Morgan Travis attempts a finish at the rim during the Lady Eagles' host tournament, the Lady Eagle Hoopfest.

This week marks the start of the District 5-6A girls basketball schedule, a conference whose championship race went down to the final night of the regular season last year and still emerged without an outright champion.

Allen and Denton Guyer shared the top spot in the conference, but early signs point to another Denton ISD high school potentially joining that mix this season. Braswell enters district as the league’s lone ranked team by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches, sitting at No. 13 in Class 6A, while Allen, Prosper, McKinney and McKinney Boyd all posted preseason records of .500 or better entering Friday night.

Prior to the opening tip of the 5-6A schedule, which actually begins Monday night with McKinney hosting Guyer, the Star Local Media sports staff collaborated to project the league’s four playoff qualifiers.

1. Denton Braswell

Matt Welch: After placing third in 5-6A last season, the Lady Bengals appear primed to take the next step and contend for what would be the high school’s first district championship since moving to Class 6A.

Braswell carried a 14-2 record into Friday’s final tune-up game before its district opener, set for Tuesday against McKinney Boyd, that includes 12 double-digit wins and an average margin of victory of 23.7 points per game.

The Lady Bengals have an intangible in their favor versus the rest of 5-6A, returning three players named to the all-district team last season. LSU signee Alisa Williams leads that group, joined by senior Jazmyne Jackson (Grambling State) and sophomore Kennedy Evans as the centerpieces of an aggressive, versatile Braswell bunch.

Marrying experience with talent and size, the Lady Bengals will be a tough out in the coming months for the rest of 5-6A. 

2. Allen

Matt Welch: It’s been an up-and-down start for the reigning co-district champions, who crept back above .500 after outlasting Rockwall on Tuesday, 43-33. Fortunately for head coach Teresa Durham, the signs are there that Allen could be trending upward.

Tuesday’s win marked the Lady Eagles’ fifth in their last six games — easing the brunt of a 4-7 start littered with matchups against state-ranked opposition. Allen is entering district play battle-tested after going to war with powerhouses with DeSoto, Frisco Memorial and Plano, which has made for a bit of a baptism by fire for a team that graduated four starters and five all-district selections.

The bulk of the experience in Durham’s rotation resides with junior Alexis Cortez, an all-district second-teamer, while junior Raimi McCrary holds down the frontcourt and senior Maria Dicenta is capable of stretching defenses from the perimeter.

One stat of note for Lady Eagles heading into district: In each of their nine wins, they’ve held the opponent to 35 points or less.

3. Prosper

David Wolman: Last season, Prosper overcame a 2-5 start to qualify for the playoffs for the fifth time in the last six seasons. The Lady Eagles are off to a better start this season with an 8-6 record -- just two wins shy of tying their win total from all of last season.

A big reason behind the team's early success is its offense. Prosper has scored more than 60 points in six games, including nearly hitting triple digits in a 96-43 rout of Grand Prairie on Nov. 18. 

Senior forward Saylor Lewis, a 5-6A second-team selection as a junior, is back to lead a young Lady Eagles squad. And she is joined by senior point guard Peyton Mosley and senior shooting guard Bowden Janecek.  Janecek poured in 20 points in an 88-45 victory over Rockwall-Heath on Nov. 16.

Prosper has also received big contributions this season from freshmen Zhi McWilliams and Kendall Mosley, sophomore Olivia Pennington and junior Mason Duncan. 

4. Little Elm

David Wolman: Little Elm is poised to make a push for the playoffs after barely missing out last year in its first season as a Class 6A school.

The Lady Lobos, who are under the direction of first-year head coach Ken Tutt after former coach Kristen Coffey accepted a job at Frisco, have been on a bit of a roll lately -- winners of four of their last five games after starting the season 1-5. 

Junior guard Amarachi Kimpson, who was the 5-6A offensive player of the year as a sophomore, is picking up where she left off. She is averaging a whopping 19.2 points per game to go along with 4.8 rebounds, 2.8 steals and 2.6 steals. 

Little Elm has also received a nice boost from freshmen Raniyah Hunt and Shiloh Kimpson. Hunt is averaging 6.7 points, while Shiloh, the younger sister of Amarachi, is second on the team at 9.6 points. 

For continued news and coverage on the local sports scene, follow Matt Welch on Twitter.

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