FRISCO MEMORIAL GIRLS BASKETBALL JASMYN LOTT

Jasmyn Lott and Memorial made history this season by advancing to the Class 5A state championship game.

The end of one chapter gives way to the start of another, and such is the case as teams around the state begin preparations for the 2022-23 school year.

For some, that means a fresh start as they look to get back on the winning track, while for others, it represents an opportunity to build on what they accomplished in the past year.

Throughout the summer, Star Local Media will reflect on the year that was for the Frisco ISD, while also looking ahead to the district’s storylines and subplots for the 2022-23 school year.

1. Which team had the biggest breakthrough in 2021-2022?

Frisco ISD has seen some memorable playoff runs over the years from different programs in different sports.

The rapidly-growing FISD offers a different dynamic in regards to this question.

The school district will grow to 12 high schools competing in varsity sports next year and seven those are less than a decade old.

Even Centennial, the second-oldest school in FISD, has only been open since 2004.

The number of younger programs means that many teams have their best days ahead of them.

There were several teams that fit the criteria of this question.

It started in the fall, as the Reedy volleyball team, who had never gotten past the third round, advanced all the way to the regional championship match.

On the gridiron, Liberty embarked on a 10-2 campaign to capture its first district title since 2010.

The Memorial boys basketball team had made just one previous playoff appearance and was knocked out in the first round. This year, the Warriors not only won their first district championship and playoff game, they advanced all the way to the regional finals.

The Lone Star boys soccer team followed a similar script on the pitch, not only winning their first district title and playoff game, but also making a run to the regional championship match. Along the way, the Rangers knocked out a Reedy team that had advanced for the first time, and their road came to an end came in a narrow shootout loss to a Wakeland team that went on to the state title.

Recently, the Heritage softball team captured its first district title on its way to the regional quarterfinals.

And baseball featured a series of firsts, as Lone Star the 9-5A title for the first time, and Memorial and Independence made their inaugural appearances in the playoffs, with the Knights also advancing to the third round.

But the award for biggest breakthrough season goes to the Memorial girls basketball team, who came within seconds of bringing home the Class 5A championship.

The Warriors made their first playoff appearance in 2019 and after advancing for the first time last season, they carried high hopes into the 2021-2022 campaign.

Memorial was led by do-everything senior Jasmyn Lott, the 9-5A co-most valuable player. The Warriors also featured defensive player of the year Jasmyn Lott, first-team junior Angel Alexander, second-teamer Brynn Lusby and honorable mentions in Jordan Conerly, Carmen Box, Makayla Vation and Senese Rainey.

Leading the talented group was Rochelle Vaughn, who guided Memorial to a share of the 9-5A title, the first in program history.

The Warriors split the district title with Liberty, who had carried the FISD torch with three consecutive trips to the state tournament, winning a 5A title in 2020.

The two teams appeared to be on a collision course in the playoffs.

After shaking off an upset scare in the bi-district round against Wylie East, 44-42, Memorial won its next three playoff games by double digits to set up the showdown with the Redhawks.

The teams had split the two district meetings and the rubber match had the highest stakes on the line.

It looked as if experience would win out when Liberty took a three-point lead to the fourth quarter, but the Warriors showed their resolve, closing the game on a 15-4 run to claim a 43-35 victory to make history in advancing to the state tournament.

Memorial was not finished, as it defeated Amarillo 59-48 in the semifinals to advance to the championship game.

The Warriors’ opponent was Cedar Park, the reigning state champion that was undefeated on the season.

Memorial proved it belonged among the elite in the state, going punch for punch with Cedar Park all night. Regulation was not enough, as the teams were deadlocked at 35-35.

In the end, Cedar Park was able to do just enough to claim a 45-40 victory in double overtime, but while it was a heartbreaking end, the Warriors raised the bar for all future teams to follow.

2. Which team had the biggest turnaround in 2021-2022?

As was the case with the previous question, there were several teams that had a good case.

The Independence volleyball team won just four district games a year ago, but posted a 11-7 record to return to the playoff for the first time in four years, while Heritage, who finished seventh in the 9-5A standings in 2020, went 12-6 to earn its first postseason berth since 2012.

In boys basketball, Liberty was coming off a 7-16 season, including a 6-12 district mark, but enjoyed much better times this year, going 26-8 overall and 12-6 in 9-5A to return to the playoffs for the first time in three years.

On the diamond, the Lone Star softball team went 7-11 a year ago, but flipped to a 12-6 record to claim its first spot in the postseason since 2019.

And Independence’s athletics year started the same way it had started with the volleyball team, as the Knights baseball squad turned a four-win district campaign, into a 11-7 record, its first playoff appearance and a trip to the regional quarterfinals.

But as impressive as those turnarounds were, the Lone Star boys soccer team’s season stood above the rest.

All FISD soccer teams have to compete in what is arguably the toughest district in the state and the Rangers took their lumps in 2021, finishing in last place with a 2-14-2 record.

This season represented a complete turnaround.

Lone Star matched the previous season’s win total in the first week of 9-5A play and they were just getting started.

Under 9-5A coach of the year Clinton Hollingworth, Tthe Rangers went on to compile a 14-1-3 record to not only make the playoffs for the first time since 2019, but capture the program’s first district championship.

There were plenty of very good reasons for the turnaround.

In a district full of some of the top talent in the nation, J.J. Hernandez was voted as the 9-5A most valuable player.

Joining Hernandez on the first team were Salim Guerrero, Alex Gonzalez, Emi Luna, Daylan Lowe and Ivan Villatoro, as well as second-teamers Blake Humphrey, Adam Arizi, Amine Arizi, Jacob Wenzel and Matt Trouy.

Lone Star was riding a wave of momentum, but it entered the playoffs looking to win a game for the first time in program history.

The Rangers crossed that goal off the list with a 1-0 win over Lovejoy in the bi-district round.

They were just getting warmed up, as the followed that up with hard-fought victories over Carrollton Creekview, district rival Reedy and Highland Park to advance to the regional final.

That set up a third meeting with Wakeland, a team Lone Star had defeated twice during the district slate.

The two teams engaged in a classic worthy of a state championship match, but though the Wolverines were able to pull out a shootout victory, the turnaround will rank among the best in the history of FISD.

3. How did Frisco Legacy Christian measure up during the last athletics year?

Legacy Christian has established itself as one of the top private school athletics programs in the area and this past season was no different.

The 2021-2022 year featured a number of runs to the playoffs, highlighted by the softball team capturing the Texas Association of Private and Parochial Schools Division II state championship.

More on that in a minute.

The Eagles started the school year with the volleyball team making the playoffs. Despite an overall losing record, Legacy Christian won the district matches that mattered to earn a spot in the field.

The basketball teams followed a similar script.

The Eagle girls went 18-7 in district to claim a playoff berth and defeated Bullard Brook Hill in the opening round before falling to eventual Dallas Christian in the area finals.

The boys followed suit, as after a playoff-opening win against Bullard Brook Hill, it dropped a close 58-56 decision to a Dallas Christian team that would go on to advance to the state title game.

Both the girls and boys soccer teams qualified for the playoffs, with the boys capturing a district championship.

The Legacy Christian baseball team also advanced to the playoffs, but at the same time, it was the softball team that took center stage.

After getting a bye in the opening round, the Eagles made a name for themselves winning close games.

Legacy Christian would win its next three contests by a single run, doing what it took to edge out Tyler Grace Community (3-2), Fort Worth Christian (9-8) and Grapevine Faith Christian (11-10).

That brought them to a state title date with Sugar Land Fort Bend Christian in a game that saw freshman Blair Ehmer strike out 15 to lead the team to a 3-1 victory and the TAPPS Division II crown.

Ehmer, Kendall Droesch, Lynlee Kennedy and Julia Bowers were named to the state all-tournament team.

For continued coverage on the local sports scene, follow Devin Hasson on Twitter: @DevinHasson. Email Devin with sports story suggestions at dhasson@starlocalmedia.com.

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