Last week marked the start of the second half of conference play for girls basketball teams in Districts 5-6A, 6-6A and 9-5A.
Hebron sits atop District 6-6A with a perfect 9-0 mark, but Coppell and Flower Mound aren’t far behind. The Cowgirls, who split the conference title with Plano East last season, improved to 8-1 after Friday’s win at Marcus, while the Lady Jaguars were 6-3. East, at 5-4, moved within one game of 6-3 Flower Mound after Friday’s 31-25 victory against the Lady Jaguars.
Over in District 5-6A, Denton Braswell, which made its first appearance in the regional final last season, is looking to also defend their district championship. However, the Bengals (7-2 district) are locked in a three-team logjam atop the standings with Allen and Little Elm. Allen pulled even with Braswell and Little Elm after earning a 35-33 victory over the Bengals on Friday.
The battle for supremacy in District 9-5A is shaping up to be a three-team race to the finish line between Frisco Lone Star, The Colony and Frisco. The Rangers, who started the season 0-8, are in first place with a perfect 9-0 mark in district play. The Lady Cougars have enjoyed one of the biggest turnarounds in all of the Dallas area, going 8-1 thus far in district play after winning four conference games all of last season.
Let’s take a further examination to break down the contenders in each of those three districts.
Can anyone stop Hebron?
Hebron was a struggling program when Lisa Branch was hired as head coach in 2017. The Lady Hawks went 10-50 in the two seasons prior to her arrival and they hadn’t made the playoffs since 2009, according to MaxPreps.
Now, Hebron is just five wins away from capping off a perfect run in 6-6A. It would be the second time in the last three seasons that a team in that district didn’t lose a conference game. Two seasons ago, Plano East went 14-0 and finished as a regional finalist. The Lady Hawks, who seek a fifth consecutive winning season and fifth consecutive postseason berth, finished in fourth place last season.
Branch’s state-ranked Lady Hawks (No. 10 in Class 6A) started the second half of district play in convincing fashion, defeating fourth-place East, 49-33. Junior forward Jordan Thomas recorded a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Junior Nia Walker chipped in 13 points.
Hebron earned a 58-50 win over then-No. 1 Coppell on Jan. 6. But don’t expect the Cowgirls to lay down in their quest for a second straight district title.
Coppell (No. 3 in 6A), which won a single-season record 37 games last season and finished as a regional quarterfinalist, hasn’t taken that success for granted.
The Cowgirls are 29-2 and already have wins against defending 6A state runner-up South Grand Prairie, 6A’s No. 3 Austin High, 3A’s No. 11 Winnsboro, 5A’s No. 24 El Paso Chapin, 5A’s No. 10 Buda Hays and 6A’s No. 18 Flower Mound.
The Cowgirls began the second half of district play with a bang, overcoming a sluggish start to down Plano West, 62-40, on Tuesday. Coppell outscored West 36-13 over the second and third quarters after trailing 15-13 at the end of the first quarter. Junior Ella Spiller poured in 15 points.
Coppell has responded well since losing to Hebron, winning four consecutive games by double digits.
Flower Mound, which missed the playoffs last season despite finishing 22-10 overall, is in good position to make the postseason for the first time in three years. The Lady Jaguars, who weren’t predicted to make the playoffs by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches, are three games ahead of fifth-place Lewisville and Plano.
North Carolina State signee and senior forward Madison Cox has made a case for district MVP. Cox posted a triple-double in Tuesday’s 68-58 win over Plano, recording 13 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists. Junior Kaitlyn Edmondson scored 24 points to pace Flower Mound.
The final playoff berth in 6-6A appears to be a three-team race between Plano (3-6), Plano East (5-4) and Lewisville (3-6).
Can Little Elm leapfrog Denton Braswell?
The Lady Lobos were one of the hottest teams in the final six weeks of last season, going 10-1 over that span of play to finish in second place in 5-6A before losing a hard-fought contest to Plano in bi-district.
Little Elm hasn’t showed any signs of letting up in Ken Tutt’s second season as head coach. Led by reigning district MVP and UNLV signee Amarachi Kimpson (19 points per game), Little Elm is tied with Allen and Denton Braswell for first place. The Lady Lobos moved into the tie after Friday’s 58-39 win over Denton Guyer and Allen’s 35-33 triumph over Denton Guyer.
Sophomore guard Raniyah Hunt provides the Lady Lobos (7-2) with another weapon behind the 3-point line. Hunt made six 3-pointers and finished with 22 points in Little Elm’s 81-65 victory against Allen on Jan. 13.
The final week of the regular season will be huge for district title implications. Little Elm plays Braswell on Feb. 3 and Allen on Feb. 7.
The Colony enjoying breakout season
The Lady Cougars have had three different head coaches in as many seasons, but former Corpus Christi Miller head coach Chanice Smith has had success wherever she has roamed the sidelines.
While at Miller, Smith led the Lady Buccaneers to back-to-back playoff berths for the first time since 2010. Now in her first season as Lady Cougars head coach, Smith has The Colony closing in on its first playoff berth in three years.
The Colony improved to 20-9 overall and 8-1 in 9-5A on Friday with a 50-31 victory over Reedy. Senior Kahlen Norris poured in 15 points and 10 rebounds. Senior Aaliyah Brown finished with 11 points and 21 rebounds. Junior Rayna Williams contributed 11 points and 10 rebounds.
It’s been an 11-win improvement for The Colony, which won just nine games all of last season.
The only setback that the Lady Cougars have had in district play came in a 36-33 loss to first-place Frisco Lone Star on Jan. 10. The rematch is set for Feb. 3 at Lone Star.
The Rangers are no strangers to success recently, as they have made six consecutive playoff appearances, winning four district titles and advancing at least three rounds deep in the playoffs in each of those seasons.