WEST MESQUITE GIRLS BASKETBALL PRECIOUS OKOUGBODU

Precious Okougbodu and West Mesquite will look to get things turned around in the second half of the 13-5A season.

There has not been a lot of on-court drama during the first half of the 13-5A season, with only three of the 28 games having been decided by less than 10 points.

While there have not been many anxious moments in the fourth quarter, it has created intrigue in the standings, where they are several close races for the district championship and the final playoff berths.

Here is a look at the field:

Poteet (3-4, 5-9)

The good news for Poteet is that it has taken care of business against the teams below them in the standings.

However, the Pirates understand that if they are going to return to the playoffs, they will need to knock off at least one, if not two, of the teams they are chasing.

Poteet dropped one game out of fourth place on Tuesday with a 40-25 loss to Crandall and that end-of-the-season rematch could be for a playoff berth.

Poteet knew coming into the season that new players would have to step up with the departure of four all-district performers.

Several players have flashed their potential, which could be a positive going forward if that group continues to grow.

Among the Pirate contributors have been seniors Kya Richardson, Peyton Jones and Jessy Kuruvilla, junior Alayssia Crawford and a pair of freshmen in Serena Anukem and Gabrielle Bradley.

West Mesquite (0-7, 2-9)

The Wranglers have had some tough luck this season and that continued on Tuesday with a 52-51 loss to Greenville.

Senior post Tiffany Ikwumere and senior guard Jay Williams were all-district selections a year ago and have stepped into more of a leading role this season.

Junior Teresa Juarez has been a contributor and West Mesquite has also looked toward younger players with sophomores Evanique Dennis, Kash Robinson, Kamaya McBride and Precious Okougbodu.

The Wranglers had a couple of close calls during the first half, but they understand they will need to not only flip those results, but also pull off a couple of upsets along the way if they hope to climb back into contention.

Highland Park (7-0, 13-6)

The defending district champions are in good position to make another run at the crown and they took a huge step toward doing that on Tuesday with a 38-35 victory over North Forney in a battle of undefeated teams.

Highland Park has leaned on a mix of experience and youth thus far.

There is good senior leadership with Ella Patterson, Madison Visinsky, Cate Rhodes and Brianna Doyle.

That group is backed up by juniors Vivian Jin and Riley Herrod and sophomores Maddie Heis, Raina Pietrzak and Paris Lauro.

Even with the three-point win over North Forney and a four-point decision against Royse City, Highland Park is still winning district games by an average of 25.2 points.

North Forney (6-1, 11-5)

The Falcons had reeled off six straight district wins prior to Tuesday’s showdown loss to Highland Park, but they are already eyeing the rematch in the season finale.

Junior Raven Busby, a first-team all-district pick last season, has emerged as a most valuable player candidate, averaging 15.2 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.5 steals per game.

Junior Kyra Samuels, who is recording 7.9 points and 6.5 rebounds, and senior Jayla Moore, who is tallying 7.4 points per contest, are other key parts of the rotation.

Freshman Jaslynn Marsh has made an impact not only in scoring, but also ranking among the team leaders in rebounding and steals, while junior Gabby Ortiz and senior Alexis Adams have also been steady.

Royse City (5-2, 11-6)

The Bulldogs were picked to win the district in the TABC preseason poll, but back-to-back losses to Highland Park and North Forney back in December put them in an early hole.

Royse City has responded since, winning four straight district games to move into third place and into district title contention.

Senior Kyla McMinn has been one of the top players in 13-5A after a first-team all-district campaign a year ago.

Senior McKenna Anderson has also been solid and the Bulldogs have also gotten good play from a quartet of sophomores in Kayla Kimbrough, Nicole Weaver, Shelby Aldridge and Alexia Lohman.

Crandall (4-3, 11-6)

The Pirates made the move up to Class 4A and have given a good account of themselves by remaining in playoff contention.

Their biggest win thus far came on Tuesday with the 40-25 victory over Poteet that moved them into sole possession of fourth place.

Despite graduating three all-district performers, the cupboard was not bare, though, as they return newcomer of the year sophomore Tatum West and first-team sophomore Zoey Venrick.

Senior Kayla Davis and junior Faith Reese have been among the other players to watch.

Forney (2-5, 3-11)

The Jackrabbits endured some struggles last season, but despite a slow start, they are hoping to get things turned around.

Forney graduated four all-district performers, including Sade Williams and Bethany Jones.

The Jackrabbits have tried to rely on balance, with Tanae Fletcher, a second-team all-district selection last season, Deserae Charles, Amariya Coe, Rachel Banda, Vanessa Hollingsworth, Alexis Newman, Taylor Sarten and Andrea Mendez.

Greenville (1-6, 5-12)

The Lions finally earned their first district win on Tuesday with a 52-51 victory over West Mesquite.

Senior Maci Williams and junior Cierra Baysinger, who were all-district picks from last year, are pacing the offense, averaging 9.5 and 8.5 points per game, respectively.

Greenville has employed a balanced scoring approach, though, getting production from senior Matyia Simpson, juniors Everlyn Garcia, Logan Venters, Brooke Huchings, Brea McFrazier and Jenna Wade and sophomores Chennia Sanders, Kacie Venters and Kierra Baysinger.

For continued coverage on the local sports scene, follow Devin Hasson on Twitter: @DevinHasson

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