The 2018-19 high school sports year was rife with new challenges for Lewisville ISD and Coppell, which made the move to District 6-6A and welcomed Irving ISD along for the ride. The result was another year of quality athletics from several of the most prominent programs in the state.
Throughout the summer, Star Local Media will reflect on the year that was for 6-6A’s eight schools while also looking ahead to what lies in store for 2019-20.
With that said, here’s the seventh installment of Six Questions for District 9-6A.
1. Who is the preliminary favorite in 6-6A boys basketball?
Lewisville qualified for the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2014 last season and matching that success should be somewhere around the low end of the Farmers’ expectations for next season.
Lewisville could be in for a monster year on the hardwood, returning four all-district selections in sophomore Keyonte George (last year’s 6-6A Offensive Player of the Year), senior KJ Pruitt (the district’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year), plus junior Kylin Green and senior OC Girtmon. George and Pruitt, in particular, form the district’s top one-two punch, with the former turning in one of the state’s best freshman years and the latter soaring up recruiting boards during the offseason.
Coppell hoisted the 6-6A title last season but figures to take a step back after graduating nearly two-thirds of its roster, including reigning District MVP Tariq Aman, but still has history on it side with only one missed playoff appearance over the past decade.
Flower Mound missed the playoffs last season and would have been a prime bounce-back candidate if not for the abrupt late-season transfer of Caleb Lohner last season, but still remains in good hands with senior Jeffrey Mills.
Meanwhile, save for the George-Pruitt combo in Lewisville, Hebron’s top two players are as formidable as any in the area with seniors Logan McLaughlin and Darius Snow providing complementary skill sets that should have the Hawks on the radar as well.
2. Who is the preliminary favorite in 6-6A girls basketball?
Irving ISD’s lone 6-6A champion emerged from the hardwood last year, and strong as MacArthur was in its first foray through this district, the Lady Cardinals should be even tougher this season.
Five-star guard Sarah Andrews is enough of a walking mismatch for opposing 6-6A backcourts, but teams will have to pick their poison with post Hannah Guster patrolling the paint for the Lady Cardinals. A Baylor pledge, Gusters sat out her junior year after being ruled ineligible following her transfer from Duncanville, and her addition puts the Lady Cardinals not only at the front of the line for another 6-6A title but on the short list of state championship contenders.
As to how Lewisville ISD factors into the district’s upper echelon, Hebron is in a strong position to repeat as a playoff qualifier with more continuity than any team in the district. The Lady Hawks bring back seven all-district honorees, including four-year starters Daxia Melton and Sierra Dickson, plus last year’s 6-6A Newcomer of the Year, sophomore Cammie McKinney.
Lewisville, meanwhile, has made the playoffs for three straight years under head coach Sally Allsbrook and has a former Newcomer of the Year selection in junior Laila Lawrence back to fuel another promising season, while Flower Mound should recover from a postseason-less 2019 with an experienced core of seniors Mackenzie Schott, Kayla Wallace and sophomore Sarah Edmondson returning.
3. Who are the early MVP candidates in 6-6A boys and girls basketball?
The MacArthur girls ran the district table last year and captured four of 6-6A’s five all-district superlatives along the way. Provided that Andrews and Gusters are able to keep the Lady Cardinals atop the district in similar fashion, either seems like a shoo-in to earn MVP honors. Chemistry won’t be an issue between the two, given their experience together on the club scene with Nike ProSkills, and a co-MVP wouldn’t be a surprising outcome either.
On the boys side, this feels like George’s superlative to lose. After taking the district by storm as a freshman, averaging 21 points per game and showcasing a knack for crunch-time heroics, George is merely scratching the surface of what is showing signs of one of the more promising varsity careers of any LISD basketball player. However, don’t rule out his own teammate Pruitt, whose all-around game and intangibles are an invaluable asset to the Farmers.
4. No basketball team in 6-6A advanced past the second round in 2019. What contributed to those struggles and can it be remedied in 2020?
District 6-6A wasn’t able to sneak any of its eight playoff qualifiers into the top 25 of the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches state poll by the time the playoffs began, which could have been a harbinger of things to come.
But as is always the case, there’s an element of fortune that goes into any team making a deep playoff run and, unfortunately for 6-6A, Region I-6A doesn’t offer much in the way of lucky breaks.
Five of the district’s eight playoff qualifiers advanced to the area round before running into either the heavyweights from 7-6A – DeSoto (the girls state runner-up), Cedar Hill or South Grand Prairie – or 8-6A juggernaut Duncanville (the boys state champion). Those schools stack up among the state’s premier basketball programs and that won’t be changing in 2020, with the DeSoto girls and Duncanville boys, in particular, likely to contend for another regional championship.
Even a squad like the MacArthur girls, for all their brilliance, could be looking at a second-round matchup against a team like the SGP girls, who bring back the heavy majority of a team that made the regional finals last season.
Call it an unfortunate luck of the draw, but sheer proximity could very well be 6-6A’s biggest hurdle come playoff time.
5. Which 6-6A school will win the most district championships in 2019-20?
Flower Mound, which cracked the top five of the final UIL Lone Star Cup standings, captured four district titles across 6-6A’s eight standings-based sports. Given the caliber of athletic programs between LISD and Coppell, I’m willing to wage that number should level out a bit in 2019-20.
At first glance, there’s a case to be made that six of the district’s eight schools could hoist a district title, be it Flower Mound volleyball, Hebron football, Lewisville boys basketball, MacArthur girls basketball, Coppell girls soccer and Marcus softball.
Whether that actually materializes remains to be seen, but there’s still a very plausible scenario where Flower Mound accrues district titles in volleyball, boys soccer and baseball to bolster what should be strong years in cross country and swimming.
It’s ultimately not the number of sports where the Jaguars feel like preliminary front-runners, but the number where they could theoretically be in the mix. And the figure usurps a school like Coppell, which should also have a say in cross country circuit and also be in the mix for titles in boys soccer, girls soccer, tennis and wrestling.
6. Name an athlete in 9-6A that could succeed in a sport he or she doesn’t currently play at the varsity level.
Darius Snow is already a standout on Hebron’s football and basketball teams, and although the turnaround after hoops season would be taxing, Snow has the skill set to be an absolute terror on the soccer field. Snow’s position on the gridiron (safety) welcomes physicality at every turn, and coupled with the defensive back’s motor and speed, good luck outworking him for a 50-50 ball on the pitch.
And even though she denounced the idea of pursuing a basketball career long ago, I can’t imagine it would take long for Flower Mound volleyball star Kaylee Cox to become a force in high school’s other hardwood sport. The last name “Cox” is synonymous with basketball excellence at Flower Mound, evidenced by the careers submitted by Kaylee’s two older sisters, Lauren and Whitney. Plus, Cox’s parents both played in college – basketball genes simply run in the family.