For the second consecutive season, two girls basketball teams from District 9-6A took the court at Ellis Davis Fieldhouse with a trip to the state tournament on the line — and neither from the year before.
Plano Senior and McKinney flexed the conference’s depth by comprising the Region II-6A finals, following in the footsteps of the Allen-Prosper fifth-round showdown in 2019, as the Lionettes emerged as a surprise entrant into the state tournament despite placing third in its own district.
It was just that kind of year on the 9-6A hardwood, and several of the players responsible for that night-in, night-out grind were recently recognized with selections to the conference’s all-district team.
That included plenty of representatives from district champion Plano, which won the final 11 games of its league schedule to claim first place. Central to that effort were four superlative winners, including District MVP and junior Mikayla Eddins.
Eddins was one of several Lady Wildcats whose responsibilities ratcheted up in the wake of senior Jordyn Merritt’s season-ending ACL injury in November. She went on to turn in one of the better all-around campaigns of any guard in the area behind per-game averages of eight points, five rebounds, six assists and three steals per game during district play.
“All year long, she was a leader every day in practice. She led not only by example but was outspoken in a positive way to all her teammates, trying to encourage them and help them get better,” said Rodney Belcher, Plano head coach. “I was proud of her and how she was voted as the most valuable player because I felt like she earned. It was well deserved.”
Joining Eddins in the backcourt was senior Maggie Robbins, who pestered her share of opposing point guards on her way to Defensive Player of the Year honors. Robbins averaged roughly three steals and two deflections per game during Plano’s conference campaign in addition to seven points and four assists as the lone senior in Belcher’s playoff rotation.
“Maggie could have very easily been awarded MVP, also,” Belcher said. “Maggie set the tone for the team from a defensive standpoint as well as being our point guard. She was a leader on and off the floor by example.”
Robbins’ example paid dividends for a defensive-minded group of underclassmen — many of whom filled out Plano’s bench as one of the deeper reserve units in the district. Chief among that group was sophomore Jaden Berry, who poured in six points and two rebounds in 9-6A action, alongside some stifling defense, to receive Sixth Woman of the Year honors.
“There were plenty of games where she impacted our team off the bench with her energy and defensive prowess,” Belcher said. “I remember her knocking down some big free throws against Prosper and going in when we struggling against McKinney and hit two threes in the second quarter when we struggled to score. She brought energy every day and her future is bright as long as she continues to put the work in.”
Belcher and his assistants were recognized as 9-6A’s Coaching Staff of the Year, with the remaining superlatives spread between Plano East and Prosper.
Although the Lady Eagles fell short of the playoffs, senior Maddie Cleary routinely lit up opposing defenses from beyond the arc on her way to Offensive Player of the Year honors, while East freshman Taylor Haggan carved out a prominent role with the second-place Lady Panthers as the conference’s Newcomer of the Year. Despite her youth, Haggan led East in both points (8.7) and rebounds (5.3) during her debut campaign.
“The cool thing about Taylor is that she got better as the year went along. Teams started game planning for her even though she was just a freshman, so you can only imagine where she’s going to go from here,” said Jessica Linson, East head coach. “Taylor is so versatile. Towards the end of the year, she played on the perimeter a bit more and defending better on the perimeter. She’s going to be a huge matchup issue in the future and it’s going to be fun to watch her grow.”
Haggan was one of six East players recognized on the all-district, with sophomores Donavia Hall (8.3 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 2.4 steals) and Tiana Amos (5.5 points, 2.1 asssts) nabbing first-team honors, and sophomores Ada Anamekwe (6.2 points, 3.8 rebounds, 1.5 steals), Kayla Cooper (5.4 points, 1.9 assists, 1.7 steals) and freshman Idara Udo (4.3 points, 4.3 rebounds) following suit on the second team.
Plano junior Amaya Brannon stepped up as the Lady Wildcats’ leading scorer at 11 points per game during district play and joined sophomore Sanaa Murphy-Sowers, who averaged seven points, two assists and two steals as first-team selections.
Cracking the all-district list from Allen, which placed fourth in the conference, was senior Tyler Jackson, who averaged nearly 15 points per game in district on her way to a first-team selection, while teammates and juniors Zoe Jackson and Mackenzie Wurm received second-team commendation.
Sixth-place Plano West also landed a pair onto the second team in freshman Monica Marsh and senior Maya Kendall. Despite being debut year being limited to 20 games, Marsh still led the Lady Wolves in scoring with 11.1 points per game, while Kendall checked in at 8.6 points and 4.6 rebounds per contest.
The remainder of the all-district first team included Prosper junior Chandler Browning, McKinney Boyd senior Bryne’e Scott and McKinney seniors Erin Fry, Nic Porter and junior Trinity White. Second-team picks around the district were McKinney senior Taylor Jackson, Boyd senior Anija Simmons and Prosper sophomore Peyton Mosley.