Last season, there was arguably no better rivalry in Frisco ISD athletics than the one on the hardwood between the Lone Star and Liberty girls basketball teams.
The two juggernauts slugged it out three times a year ago – splitting the regular-season series before meeting once again in the regional finals with a trip to San Antonio on the line.
That highly anticipated postseason matchup certainly lived up to the hype with Randi Thompson’s last-second 3-pointer sending it to overtime before Liberty squeaked by with a thrilling 43-39 victory.
“The first thing I think about with this rivalry is about all the great kids we have had come through both programs,” said Todd Monsey, Lone Star head coach. “Over the last few years these have been tough, close and hard-fought games, and I think that represents the cultures of our programs. It also shows you how bad these kids compete against each other to where it’s going to come down to just a couple of possessions.”
The two perennial powerhouses have not faced off since that day and a ton of things have changed drastically since then.
The top two performers in the district last season — Thompson and former Lone Star standout Adryana Quezada — are off competing at the next level, while three other Liberty starters graduated as well. The Rangers also lost four of their starters to graduation and even feature a brand-new head coach this season in Monsey.
With that said, expectations for both programs remained a tad lower than they had been over the past few seasons, but don’t mention that to either of these two ball clubs.
The Lady Redhawks, led by sophomore sensation Jazzy Owens-Barnett, are flying high and off to a red-hot 8-0 start in district play. Lone Star, on the other hand, is just one game back at 7-1 and rides an impressive, five-game winning streak heading into Friday when the two sides will collide for the first time since February.
“We have some kids that have been here before but most of them are new to this moment,” Monsey said. “They still understand what tradition requires and are stepping into those new roles.”
Some of those players for Lone Star to step up in new roles have been seniors Halley Carr and Makenna Long, who have not only taken more responsibilities on the court but have also stepped into leadership duties as well.
It also helps to have sophomore guard Kyla Deck, the younger sister of former Lone Star standout Mia Deck, also become one of the district’s top playmakers in just year No. 2 at the varsity level.
Owens-Barnett has also emerged this season in just her second season and has quickly become a legitimate contender for District MVP. Monsey knows his squad will have their hands full in trying to contain her and the rest of the Lady Redhawks if Lone Star wants to gain ground on a potential district title come season’s end.
“Just one of us is not going to be able to slow her down,” he said. “It’s going to take a team effort to defend her and her teammates. We have great respect for what she has done this season, and we are looking forward to the challenge.”
Tipoff between Lone Star and Liberty is set for 6 p.m. tonight at Lone Star.