Five months after Bailey Broughton helped the Lake Dallas girls basketball team reach the regional tournament for the first time in 12 years, the 5-foot-7 junior guard isn’t resting on her laurels.
Not after a postseason in which she made a corner 3-pointer to bring Lake Dallas to within one point of Mansfield Legacy with 54 seconds remaining and then a subsequent pass to sophomore Jorja Elliott for the game-winning basket in the area round of the Class 5A playoffs, leading the Lady Falcons to a thrilling 43-40 win.
“It was crazy,” Broughton said. “It was so intense. I miss it. I wish I can relive the moment.”
Not after a postseason in which she was named to the District 8-5A second team and earned an offer to play basketball for rising NCAA Division III powerhouse University of Mary Hardin-Baylor, which has won 109 games in Mark Morefield’s first five seasons as head coach, including the program’s first appearance in the national championships in 2019.
Last week, Broughton was on the court at Duncanville Fieldhouse with her AAU club, Cy Fair Elite U16 National Dallas, who competed in the eight-team 2020 Big State Flava Jam. A couple of days later, she drove to Houston for another tournament. Cy Fair Elite is scheduled to play in at least 10 tournaments this summer.
For Broughton, she has set a list of personal goals for herself this summer to improve her overall game while in the gym: improve her 3-point shooting, fight off defenders to a vacant spot on the court for a jump shot, and draw contact while driving to the basket.
But, for a while, Broughton, like many other high school athletes in Texas, were unsure if they were ever going to step foot into a gym this summer.
The coronavirus pandemic paused the spring sports season on March 12 and forced gyms to be closed until mid-May after an emergency health order was issued by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
Broughton was limited to workouts over a Zoom meeting with both her AAU team as well as with Lake Dallas. Her AAU coaches gave her ball-handling drills and ab workouts to keep the team in shape. Meanwhile, Lake Dallas’ coaching staff chatted with the Lady Falcons about the upcoming season and, like Broughton’s AAU team, sent a list of workouts.
The online workouts were appreciative, although Broughton would have preferred to have been in the gym with her teammates.
“For a second, I thought that we weren’t going to play,” she said. “I was really upset. I was getting so anxious in my house, not being able to get out, and now getting able to play with each other. It’s been rough, but it’s been good.”
Not long after gyms were permitted to reopen, Broughton was with her Cy Fair teammates in San Antonio, for their first tournament of the summer AAU season.
Of course, the pandemic has forced teams to adjust to new safety protocols. Only those teams and their respective fan bases, as well as game officials who are about to compete, can enter the facility. Masks must be worn, unless you’re an active participant in the game. Social distancing is encouraged. No congregating in the lobby is permitted. Everyone must exit the facility through a designated door upon completion of the game. All of the game equipment and seating areas are sanitized.
“It’s been different, but really good,” Broughton said. “I’m just thankful that we got to play.”
The safety protocols that were in place at Duncanville Fieldhouse could serve as the blueprint for the guidelines that possibly could be laid out by the University Interscholastic League in preparation for the upcoming 2020-21 winter season.
On Monday, the University Interscholastic League released the framework for the upcoming high school basketball season. No tournaments or showcases will be allowed and each team is allowed a maximum of 27 games.
This change also affects the playoffs.
No regional tournaments will take place in February. Regional tournaments normally consist of four teams from the same region at one pre-determined site during a course of five days. The final two teams play in the regional final with the winner clinching a berth into the state tournament.
“I’m thankful that we get to play, but it’s not the season that I was hoping for,” Broughton said. “At least we get to still play.”
As for Broughton, she said that she is pumped about the upcoming season. With several returning players with proven experience, including Broughton (6.9 points per game, 3.1 rebounds) and Elliott (12.9 points, 5.4 rebounds), Lake Dallas is eager to build upon last season’s success under then-first-year head coach Jordan Davis.
“It gave me a lot of motivation, because a lot of people that we played against over the playoffs were either on my (AAU) team or against me,” Broughton said. “Seeing them gave me a lot of confidence because we went so far. It was a really great experience.”
And just like last season, it will be Jordan’s demand for excellence, starting with her honest approach to her players.
“It was different from my freshman year before coach Davis,” Broughton said. “Our practices were very intense. She let us know what she wanted and we tried to succeed in what she did. We wanted to make her proud. I think we did.”