Tuesday marks the opening night of the District 6-6A girls basketball schedule — a 14-game slate that includes programs whose pedigrees stack up among the best in both the area and state.
One of those, Plano East, survived the 6-6A pressure cooker with an unblemished district record last season and backed it up by qualifying for the regional finals for the first time since 1993.
The Lady Panthers are primed for another run at the top of the standings but should expect some resistance with Plano, Flower Mound, Hebron and Coppell all emerging from the preseason with records over .500.
Lewisville, Marcus and Plano West all figure to have their say in pursuit of one of the district’s four playoff berths as well.
Before the district schedule tips off Tuesday, the Star Local Media sports staff collaborated to project the league’s four postseason qualifiers when the dust settles early next year.
Matt: Plano East
David: Plano East
Matt Welch: The Lady Panthers ran the table last season in 6-6A at 14-0 on their way to the regional finals, which matched the program’s deepest-ever playoff run. East has plenty of ammunition back for its title defense, most notably the senior core of Donavia Hall and Ada Anamekwe, as well as junior Idara Udo.
Senior Kayla Cooper hopes to rejoin that mix at some point, recently sidelined by a knee injury that could keep East’s star point guard out for at least six to eight weeks.
East’s depth will also be challenged after three players from its 2020-21 playoff rotation transferred elsewhere — starting guard Tiana Amos is now at South Oak Cliff, backup forward Taylor Haggan is at John Paul II, and backup forward Nevaeh Zavala is at Royse City. There’s also the change at head coach with Derrick Richardson taking the reins after Jessica Linson departed for SOC.
Although the mix is a bit different, East’s identity remains familiar. The Lady Panthers will hang their hat on defense and they’ve got the size and hustle to induce 32 uncomfortable minutes for any opponent in 6-6A.
That formula contributed to just 36.3 points allowed per game in district play last season. Whether the changes since will allow 6-6A to close the gap remains to be seen, but the Lady Panthers remain the pick to repeat.
David: Flower Mound
David Wolman: Two years ago, Flower Mound was a playoff team and had a 25-10 record, but the Lady Jaguars stumbled to a 12-13 finish last season. Flower Mound appears to be rounding into form this season.
The Lady Jaguars are 10-1 and are ranked No. 10 in the state's top public school classification by the TGCA. Flower Mound boasts a top-flight offense and has scored at least 50 points in every game this season, including a season-high 70 in a 70-27 rout of San Antonio Jefferson on Nov. 11.
The Lady Jaguars have done so behind a potent combination of balance and size with junior center Abbie Boutilier, senior guard Alexis Adams, senior guard Hailey Bingham, junior forward Maddie Cox and senior forward/guard Sarah Edmonson all capable of carrying the scoring load.
The trio of Edmondson, Cox and Boutilier are all at least 6 feet tall to form arguably the top frontcourt in the district. Look for that to pay dividends as the Lady Jaguars seek their eighth playoff over the past 10 seasons.
Matt: Flower Mound
David Wolman: Coppell has enjoyed quite the turnaround this season and is off to one of its best starts in program history. The Cowgirls defeated Byron Nelson 43-30 on Monday to improve their record to 11-0.
Along the way, the Cowgirls, ranked No. 6 in Class 6A by the Texas Girls Coaches Association, have beaten four state-ranked teams, including 5A's No. 19 Royse City in the championship game of the Coppell Tip-Off Classic. Senior forward India Howard was named tournament MVP and junior guard Jules LaMendola earned a spot on the all-tournament team.
Guards Waverly Hassman and Allyssa Potter, both juniors, and Ella Spiller, a sophomore, have also provided a big spark for the undefeated Cowgirls, who hope to secure their first playoff appearance since 2018.
Matt Welch: Hebron gritted its way to an area playoff finish last season, including a bi-district upset of state-ranked 5-6A champion Denton Guyer. That was a pivotal moment in the growth of an otherwise young Lady Hawks team that started two freshmen.
Both, Paris Bradley and Jordan Thomas, are back as sophomores and have led Hebron to an otherwise encouraging start to the season. Tuesday’s 63-26 rout of Garland Lakeview Centennial upped the Lady Hawks’ record to 8-4, including wins in four of the team’s last five.
Bradley, named 6-6A newcomer of the year last season, has reprised her role as Hebron’s point guard, while Thomas remains one of the district’s most formidable interior threats. Although leading scorer Demauria Miles graduated, juniors Dana Gingrey and Zee Bryant are among the players who have helped pick up the slack so far.
The Lady Hawks certainly improved as last season progressed. A similar trajectory for their young stars should keep them firmly in the playoff hunt this year as well.