It hasn’t always been the smoothest of rides, but the girls basketball regular season wrapped up last week and the playoff field is set, with the bi-district round slated to get going later this week.
Frisco ISD has enjoyed no shortage of success over the years, with multiple teams making extended runs, highlighted by Liberty capturing the Class 5A state championship a year ago.
This season, FISD will be represented by the same four teams as a year ago—Lone Star, Memorial, Liberty and Centennial.
That quartet will face a good challenge in the opening round against 10-5A, which features two teams ranked in the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches state poll in No. 12 Wylie East and No. 20 McKinney North, and another in Princeton that was 10th to start the year.
District champion Lone Star (17-1, 19-4 overall), the No. 17 team in the TABC 5A poll, was able to navigate the difficult 9-5A terrain and closed with authority with a 41-34 victory over defending champion Liberty in the district finale.
The Rangers have a standout in junior Kyla Deck, who is averaging 14.2 points and 5.6 rebounds per game, and an experienced leader in senior Kate Valle. Sophomore Jordyn DeVaughn has produced consistently and they have also gotten a nice boost from freshman Hannah Carr.
Lone Star has been able to stare down some of its toughest challenges to win close games, defeating Memorial by seven and three points and Liberty by two and seven.
They also have the experience of recent success on their side, as they have advanced three rounds deep in four straight seasons including a trip to the regional semifinals last year.
They will take on Prosper Rock Hill, who was able to make the playoffs in its inaugural varsity season, at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Little Elm.
This is a young Blue Hawks team, but there is talent with the likes of sophomore Rebekah Juett, Aairyahna Suggs, Haleiyah Hughes, Elyssia Brooks and Laney Hutson.
Memorial (15-3, 21-5), the second seed out of 9-5A, faces an interesting challenge against Princeton (20-4), who suffered all four of its losses at the hands of district rivals Wylie East and McKinney North, as the two teams are slated to meet at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at McKinney Boyd.
The Warriors are led by a trio of junior captains in Jasmyn Lott, who is recording 15.2 points and 5.2 rebounds per game, Jordan Conerly and Cammie McKinney.
Senior Alexis Darce has been solid and they also feature three talented freshmen in Falyn Lott, Brynn Lusby and Natalie Gowan.
The Panthers will rely on an experienced group that includes seniors Payton Aungst and Kayla Fuller and juniors Kaitlyn McKenna, Raylee Cave and Makenna Walker.
The most intriguing bi-district game features the defending state champion Redhawks (14-4, 16-8) against 10-5A runner-up McKinney North (19-5) at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at Denton Braswell.
The Bulldogs had a chance to earn a share of the district title on Tuesday, but Wylie East was able to outlast them in double overtime.
McKinney North has one of the most dynamic scorers in the state in senior Amaria Fields, who is averaging 25.9 points to go along with 5.9 rebounds per game.
The Bulldogs also boast one of the top freshmen trios in the state in Kaelyn Hamilton (11.9 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 2.7 apg), Ciarra Harris (10.7 ppg,7.9 rpg, 3.6 spg) and Cheyenne Wooten (6.5 ppg).
Prior to Tuesday’s loss to Lone Star, Liberty had won eight consecutive district games and allowed only 19 points per contest during that stretch.
The Redhawks finish with four district losses, but they came by a combined total of 14 points.
Much of the same base is still there with defending state tournament MVP Jazzy Owens-Barnett, one of the most clutch players in the state, seniors Lily Ziemciewicz and Maya Jain, juniors Zoe Junior and Ashley Anderson and sophomores Jezelle Moreno and Journee Chambers, a transfer from Sachse who has been able to make an immediate contribution.
And do not forget, Liberty lost 11 games in the regular season a year ago, before embarking on its playoff run that included a one-point win over Centennial, a close game against Red Oak, a three-overtime victory against Midlothian and an overtime thriller versus College Station.
Centennial (13-5, 15-7) would appear to be the biggest FISD underdog against 10-5A champion Wylie East (23-3) when the teams square off at 6 p.m. Thursday at Prosper.
The Raiders are riding a 14-game winning streak and have one of the best players in the region in senior Akasha Davis, who is averaging 14.8 points and 9.4 rebounds per game.
Davis has talent around her, as freshman Keyera Roseby is averaging in double figures and senior Kiley Hicks, junior Taylor Dailey and freshman LeAire Nicks have also come up big.
Do not expect the Titans to be intimidated.
Centennial features one of the best 1-2 punches in the region with senior Leila Patel, who is recording 17.8 points and 4.1 rebounds per game, and senior Madison Ott, who is averaging 15.0 points and 4.0 rebounds.
Others have stepped up along the way, including senior Payton Hand.
And the Titans were in this exact same situation a year ago as the fourth seed taking on a district champion Wylie East squad and it was Centennial who rolled to a 63-42 victory.