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Five Questions for District 9-5A Week 6

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Independence girls basketball

Independence girls basketball could be a team to watch this season with young talent leading the way.

The 2018-19 high school sports year was rife with new challenges for Frisco ISD, which made the move to District 9-5A as part of a 10-team, all-Frisco district. The result was a parity-heavy athletics campaign from many of the top Class 5A programs in the Metroplex.

Throughout the summer, Star Local Media will reflect on the year that was for 9-5A’s 10 schools while also looking ahead to what lies in store for 2019-20.

With that said, here’s the sixth installment of Five Questions for District 9-5A.

1. Who is the preliminary favorite in 9-5A volleyball?

As long as Liberty returns do-it-all standout Jenna Wenaas to the court this season, the Redhawks have little reason not to repeat as district champions once again.

The Minnesota commit led Liberty in kills and digs last season, and although the program graduated key players such as Sophie Thompson, Tara Martin and Ashley Pennington, Wenaas and her returning supporting cast is good enough to compete with the district’s elite.

However, Reedy should be a contender once again despite losing District MVP Stephanie Young, while Wakeland reloads with bright, young talent year in and year out.

A dark horse to win 9-5A could be Lebanon Trail, which returns its entire core from last year’s squad that reached the postseason in its first-ever run in Class 5A.

2. What are a few of the most intriguing bi-district matchups to look forward to in 2019-20? 

The program that experienced the most success  against Frisco ISD in the opening round of the postseason this past year also happened to be the most dominant athletics program out of 10-5A – McKinney North.

The Bulldogs held their own in bi-district action against 9-5A in all seven team sports, excluding football, and even finished with a winning record in first-round play at 4-3.

On top of that, North faced a variety of Frisco foes in the playoffs, including Reedy volleyball, Liberty girls basketball, Wakeland boys basketball, Lebanon Trail girls soccer, Lone Star softball and Heritage -boys soccer and baseball.

Expect the Bulldogs’ reign of terror to continue all across the board in the 2019-20 campaign with possibly seven more classic contests against FISD once again.

3. Better athletics year in 2019-20: Centennial or Liberty? 

Two of the closest schools in the district, Centennial and Liberty share a unique rivalry that features brilliant matchups in almost every sport.

Last season, Liberty had Centennial’s number in most sports, as the Redhawks rode impressive runs in girls basketball, track and field and volleyball, while the Titans were significantly better in softball and football.

Expect many of the same results next season in the aforementioned sports with perhaps Centennial girls basketball closing the gap a bit on the Lady Redhawks, but if Centennial baseball and golf can get back on track, then this debate may be too close to call next season.

4. Better athletics year in 2019-20: Independence or Heritage? 

Independence and Heritage is another pair of FISD foes that are separated by roughly a mile and that also share rivalries in which students from both sides are quite familiar with each other.

With that said, these two schools also might have been the most evenly matched athletically afteraccounting for every sport.

Independence captured district titles in softball and girls soccer, reached the playoffs in football and experienced great success at the state level individually in track and field. Heritage also brought home two district titles in both boys and girls track and field, while also making the playoffs in baseball and enjoying a run to regionals in boys soccer.

Heritage boys soccer and Independence girls soccer are going to be powerful yet again, but the question will be whether or not a team that didn’t make the playoffs last year can make that leap into the mix next season to sway this debate in a certain direction. The Lady Knights’ basketball team is a program that is capable of doing just that and, not to be left out, Independence football is poised for another playoff-primed run.

For those reasons, I’ll give the slight nod to Independence next season.

5. Better athletics year in 2019-20: Wakeland or Lone Star?

This question sparked a major debate on social media earlier in the summer when students from both schools took to Twitter and stated their case as to why their respective school had the better overall athletics year in 2018-19.

These two schools have been atop the district in most sports over the past few seasons, so it’s only fair we ask the question on who will claim the top spot next season.

First, we start in football with both sides expected to make the playoffs year in and year out. But Lone Star has undoubtedly been the gold standard on the gridiron in Frisco for much for the decade and this season the Rangers are expected to be back in the state title conversation with Chandler Galban at quarterback.

Then you look at volleyball where Wakeland is a threat for a deep postseason run each year, whereas Lone Star hasn’t clinched a playoff berth since 2014. Expect much to be the same this season.

As of late, Lone Star has been substantially better in both boys and girls basketball, and despite District MVP Adyrana Quezada graduating on the girls side, and the Rangers losing point guard Julian Larry to the iSchool in Lewisville, Lone Star should win that category as well.

Wakeland gains the edge right back in soccer for obvious reasons, but the softball and baseball seasons are what will make this topic interesting. The Rangers and Wolverines have been the two best baseball squads as of late and that should not change, leaving this debate neck-and-neck.

But where Wakeland gains the edge is in some of the less-talked-about sports such as cross country, which has been a force to be reckoned with around the state, and in swimming and golf.

In conclusion, I foresee this going in Wakeland’s favor for the second straight year, but a run to state in football for Lone Star could change that once and for all.

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