Tuesday marked the midway point for the District 6-6A girls basketball schedule, with all challengers trying to keep pace with Plano East.
The Lady Panthers emerged from the first half of their conference schedule undefeated at 6-0, positioning the program with the inside track for its first district title in more than a decade. At the same time, East has learned the thin margin for error — recently, the Lady Panthers managed to best the district’s seventh-place team, Coppell, by just two points.
Teams like Hebron, Plano and Lewisville remain in contention and will look to knock East from its perch as the second half of the round robin begins. With plenty of meaningful games to play, here’s a look at where all eight teams in 6-6A stand past the midpoint.
Editor’s note: Records reflective of district games played prior to Friday
Plano East (6-0)
The Lady Panthers are growing up right before second-year head coach Jessica Linson’s eyes. East has built off its strong close to the 2020 season by running the table during its first swim through 6-6A.
Defense has been the program’s calling card under Linson and the Lady Panthers have held up well on that end of the floor — allowing just 36 points per game in district play. No opponent on East’s conference schedule has scored more than 40 points.
It’s the payoff of a group that has been intact since their freshman years, with juniors Donavia Hall, Ada Anamekwe, Kayla Cooper and Tiana Amos all playing their third varsity campaigns. Sophomores Idara Udo and Taylor Haggan offer plenty of help in the paint both offensively and defensively, rounding out a core that’s in pole position for its first district title since 2008.
The Lady Hawks are perhaps the most impressive story from the first half of 6-6A. Despite losing a pair of all-district first-teamers to graduation (Sierra Dickson and Courtlyn Loudermil) and another starter via transfer (Cammie McKinney), Hebron has rebounded well to lay claim to second place in the district.
The Lady Hawks are starting two freshmen in Paris Bradley and Jordan Thomas as complements to key returners Demauria Miles, Camille Thomas and Jasmyn Loudermill. With Miles engineering the offense, players like Camille, Jordan Thomas and Loudermill give Hebron the size and length to match up with some of the district’s bigger teams like East and Plano.
The Lady Hawks entered the week ranked No. 18 in 6A by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches, highlighted by a 60-48 upset of Plano, but had a double-digit rally fall short on Tuesday against Lewisville in a 41-39 loss.
Exiting Tuesday a half-game back of Lewisville after its matchup with Marcus the week prior was postponed, the Lady Farmers have won five of their past six games. Battling personnel turnover of its own, Lewisville has stabilized behind the senior trio of Laila Lawrence, Haley Allen and KK Blair.
Those three combined for 30 of the team’s 41 points in Tuesday’s pivotal win over Hebron, including 13 from Lawrence who should figure into the district MVP conversation by season’s end.
Lawrence split honors for defensive player of the year last season in 6-6A and has helped the Lady Farmers hold four of their first six district opponents under 40 points.
Lewisville gets a chance to avenge losses to East and Plano on its home floor on Jan. 19 and Jan. 26, respectively.
Plano was projected to win the district by the TABC but finds itself clinging to the last playoff spot in the conference after an up-and-down first half of play. Some of that can be attributed to the pandemic, with the Lady Wildcats quarantined for part of December and having players in and out of the lineup due to COVID-19 protocols.
Plano hopes to establish more consistency over the second half of its district schedule and has no shortage of varsity experience to lead that charge. Seniors Mikayla Eddins, Amaya Brannon, Avery Foltz and junior Sanaa Murphy-Sowers all started for the Lady Wildcats’ regional finalist team and sophomore Salese Blow has meshed nicely as a potential newcomer of the year candidate.
Plano West (3-4)
The Lady Wolves can take pause in recording district wins over the three teams either tied or beneath them in the conference standings, assuring a leg up in any potential tiebreakers. But to break through into the playoff equation, West likely needs at least one upset over the second half of its 6-6A campaign. In meetings with the aforementioned top four teams, West is 0-4 with all four setbacks coming by double digits.
Sophomore Monica Marsh has scored in double figures all but once this season and is averaging 15 points per game in 6-6A play. Generating offense elsewhere in the rotation has been a bit more touch-and-go, although sophomore Khamryn Hopkins has come on strong in recent weeks.
Flower Mound (3-4)
After a 1-3 start to district play, the Lady Jaguars have won four of their last five games — slowly rediscovering the form that piloted the team to a runner-up finish in 6-6A last season. Flower Mound certainly looked part in a Jan. 8 upset of Plano, 48-45, in a game that saw the Lady Jaguars hold a 28-11 lead at halftime.
Junior Hailey Bingham has developed into a key contributor for head coach Sherika Nelson’s squad, adding another ingredient to what’s one of the deepest frontcourts in the district with sophomore Madison Cox, junior Sarah Edmondson and senior Emily Curl.
The team was minus Cox for the start of district play, adding a layer of intrigue to upcoming rematches against Lewisville and Hebron.
Coppell will look to make a second-half surge to jockey for one of the four playoff spots.
The Cowgirls have had their share of close calls along the way.
Coppell went toe-to-toe with district leader East during a Jan. 8 home game. The Cowgirls held the Lady Panthers to 30% shooting from the field, but it was 22 turnovers that did in Coppell in a 35-33 loss. Earlier this season, Coppell lost to West in overtime and kept Plano's offense in check for three quarters.
Sophomore guard Waverly Hassman has come back with a vengeance after missing most of last season with a stress fracture, leading the Cowgirls in scoring with 10.9 points per game, in addition to 3.7 rebounds and 1.2 assists.
The Lady Marauders had their campaign put on hold due to COVID-19 circumstances, forcing postponements of games against Lewisville, Plano East and Flower Mound, for now. Dating back to last month, Marcus has played just two games since Dec. 18.
The team hopes for better luck when its schedule resumes, currently mired in an eight-game losing streak. Five of those have come in district play, although the Lady Marauders were competitive in defeats to West and Coppell.