Between a three-team race for its girls district championship and a six-team logjam to decide a trio of playoff spots on the boys side, there was seldom a dull night on the 5-6A hardwood during the 2022-23 season.
When the dust settled, the Little Elm girls finished atop the standings before embarking on a run to the regional finals — the deepest postseason campaign in program history. The Lady Lobos outlasted stern challenges from Denton Braswell, Allen and even a resurgent McKinney group in their pursuit of the 5-6A title, whereas the Allen boys distanced from the field early on.
The Eagles amassed a 13-1 record in district play, outscoring the field by an average of 15.9 points per game. But beyond Allen, 5-6A's other three playoff qualifiers fluctuated seemingly every game night before settling on McKinney, McKinney Boyd and Denton Guyer.
Those programs, as well as the boys and girls basketball teams from Prosper ISD, all had representation on the 5-6A all-district teams.
Fittingly, Allen headlined the superlatives on the boys side with senior Femi Olaniyan earning co-MVP honors alongside blue-chip Guyer sophomore Jeremiah Green. Olaniyan impressed plenty throughout his third year as a varsity starter, leading the state-ranked Eagles in scoring at 16.1 points, 3.4 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game to go along with a 40% shooting percentage from beyond the arc.
As Olaniyan finishes out his decorated career at Allen, the program will look to players to freshman Nehemiah Lawrence to help steady the team in the coming years. Just an underclassman, Lawrence earned immediate playing time under head coach Clark Cipoletta on his way to 5-6A sixth man of the year honors. A facilitator and playmaker off the bench, the 5-foot-6 point guard averaged 3.1 points per game during district play.
Cipoletta and his assistant coaches, meanwhile, were recognized as the 5-6A staff of the year after coaching Allen to its first district championship since 2020.
Just as the Eagles improved their standing in 5-6A from last season, one of the area's more notable turnaround campaigns came from Boyd. The Broncos qualified for the playoffs for just the second time in school history, doing so under first-year head coach Kyle Lintelman and led by one of the area's most potent scorers.
Senior Damondre McKnight earned 5-6A offensive player of the year honors after averaging 19 points per game alongside 4.2 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 2.1 steals, highlighted by a pair of 27-point outings against Little Elm and McKinney, to help guide Boyd to an 8-6 finish in district play.
The Broncos were one spot below a McKinney team that finished second in 5-6A despite having to replace the top six players from its state finalist squad from the 2021-22 season. Among the Lions who stepped up along the way was junior Malek Archie, who caught fire over the second half of district play on his way to being voted as the league's junior newcomer of the year. Archie averaged 15.2 points, 6.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists and 2.0 steals per game.
Archie's superlative was among three newcomer of the year accolades given out by 5-6A, with Prosper's Parker Evanson named the top sophomore newcomer. Evanson led the Eagles in scoring twice during district play, including a 21-point performance on Jan. 24 against Little Elm, and averaged 8.8 points per game his team's final 12 district matchups.
Prosper junior Jaxson Ford, meanwhile, was recognized as 5-6A's defensive player of the year — his second all-district superlative in three years on varsity. Lauded by head coach Jonathan Ellis as the top rebounder in the area, Ford's presence around the rim was vital to Prosper's success this year. He averaged a double-double at 14.4 points and 12.5 rebounds while also recording 3.2 blocks per game.
The district also recognized Prosper senior Addison Harmon with an honorary coaches award. A two-time all-district selection, Harmon missed his senior season while recovering from a brain bleed suffered in August. Hospitalized for 10 weeks during the fall and winter, Harmon returned to the sidelines on Jan. 17, sitting on the bench to support his teammates for the remainder of the season.
On the girls' side, Allen and McKinney raked in all-district accolades following their postseason-bound 2022-23 campaigns, including superlative awards for a pair of freshmen. Jaidyn Gunter wasted no time acclimating to the varsity limelight, earning 5-6A newcomer of the year honors after leading McKinney in scoring at 15.5 points per game.
Chief among Gunter's highlights were 25 points scored in 49-47 win over Braswell on Dec. 20 and 20 in a 55-51 win over Allen on Jan. 27.
The Lady Eagles, meanwhile, got plenty of productive minutes from freshman Simone Richmond. The sharp-shooter was named 5-6A's sixth woman of the year after averaging 8.5 points during district play.
Allen and McKinney had plenty of representation elsewhere on the all-district list between the first and second teams. Senior Alexis Cortez represented the Lady Eagles on the first team, while seniors Raimi McCrary, Alana Goosby and juniors Aryn Roberts and Skye Pepp all made the second team.
McKinney junior Sam Tillson and senior Adaugo Okpala landed on the first team, followed by juniors Dasheon Wilson and Skylar Anamekwe on the second team.
Prosper sophomore Kendall Mosley made the cut on the first team, while junior Olivia Pennington was selected to the second team. Fellow Prosper ISD bunkmate Rock Hill also landed two on the all-district list, with senior Rebekah Juett making the first team and senior Jackie Powell named to the second team.
On the boys side, Allen senior Dylan Archey, sophomore Trent Pane and junior Kaiden Myers were first-team picks, while senior Zach Spitzer landed on the second team.
McKinney junior Quintel Wilson and senior Jackson Seale earned first-team nods, and senior Kendale Reynolds finished out his high school career on the second team.
Boyd junior Joe Hansen was chosen for the first team, while senior Emmauel Odo and junior Hudson Boring were recognized on the second team.
Prosper senior James Cloud and Rock Hill senior BJ Hooper were both first-team selections, while Rock Hill seniors Riley Shore and CJ Dennis, plus Prosper seniors Brandt Evanson and Zander James, were all second-team picks.
The boys' district also voted on an all-defensive team. Among the players who received that honor were Allen senior Mekhi Johnson, McKinney senior Isaac Layne, Boyd senior Elijah Knox, Prosper senior Hunter Summers and Rock Hill junior Andre Buckner.
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