Wednesday, June 7, 2023

High school hoops season preview

The Argyle Lady Eagles expect big things this season from their young squad. (Photo by Helen’s Photography)

Basketball season is upon us, and while local players and coaches are raring to go for what, on paper, could be an incredible season, there is still the proverbial elephant in the room.

Coronavirus has once again spiked, and while football, volleyball and cross country seasons have soldiered on, there have been challenges along the way.

Regardless, the 2020-21 girls basketball season promises to be a good one, with several returning playoff teams from southern Denton County and a lot of individual talent hitting the hardcourt.

The Argyle girls basketball team, for instance, went 32-7 in 2019-20 and won a district championship.

The Lady Eagles return one starter, Bailey Timmons, from last year’s state finalist team.

Timmons (11 points per game, 4 rebounds per game, 3 steals per game, 2020 TGCA all-state, TABC all-region, District 8-4A Co-Offensive Player of Year) has verbally committed to Trinity University.

Argyle also returns lettermen Madi Lumsden and adds Ashlin Crabtree, a move in from Guyer, to this year’s squad.

The Lady Eagles would have also had Rachel Fields, who “would have been a starter and pivotal member of our team but will miss the season with a torn ACL.

“Our team will be very young, but I think we will compete for a playoff spot because we have experienced and skilled players at the guard position and leaders who have experienced deep playoff runs,” coach Chance Westmoreland said. “We also have good basketball IQ and a great group of sophomores and freshmen.”

Up the road at Guyer, the girls basketball team won a district championship and finished with a 31-6 overall mark in 2019-20, which has the Lady Wildcats hungry for more this season.

Coach Aimee Kilgore said she has a lot of talent coming back from last year’s squad and feels confident that Guyer will be a contender once again.

“Key returning starters (2-all state & 2 all-district), as well as key reserves who saw lots of minutes and were major contributors in 2019-2020 give me confidence,” Kilgore said. “For us, 2019 was the best season in school history. We look forward to building off last year’s momentum. We have a great balance of talent and team. We have great team chemistry, culture and leadership. Our girls work hard. They are committed and hungry to win. We are really looking forward to the 2020 season.”

Guyer returns three starters, including Bella Earle, Evie Goetz and KK Jones.

Earle was District 5-6A Most Valuable Player, as well as: all-state TGCA, TGCA 6A All-Star Team Selection; Academic all-district; All-Tournament Team Mansfield, Burleson & Flower Mound and an Abilene Christian University commit.

Goetz was the District 5-6A Offensive Player of the Year, an all-state TGCA, Academic all-district; All-Tournament Team Burleson; is a TCU-Commit, and Jones emerged as a starter by the end of last season.

Other players to keep an eye on include Hailey Mason, Eryka Patton and Mariah Watson.

In Flower Mound, the Lady Jags won 25 games last season and reached the playoffs, and return a strong corps of players in 2020-21.

Starters Maddie Cox (10.4 points per game, 7 rebounds per game, 75% from the free throw line), Sarah Edmondson (9.3 points per game; 7 rebounds per game, 115 blocks) and Paulina Porter (5.4 points per game; 3.5 assists, 3.5 rebounds per game) should lead the way, and after going 12-2 in district last season, coach Sherika Nelson said her team is ready to pick up where it left off.

“We will look to push the ball in transition and get quick, easy baskets,” Nelson said. “Another key to our success will be the ability to play inside/out and have threats in the paint and around the 3-point line. Our size will enable us to control the boards and make opponents take tough shots outside the paint.”

At Marcus High School, the Lady Marauders just missed a postseason berth in 2019-20, finishing fifth in the district 6-6A standings,

Marcus hopes to turn things around in 2020-21 with first year coach Monica Pena at the helm.

The Lady Marauders return all-district selection MJ Jefferson from last year’s squad, along with Maiyah Watkins (Midwestern State University) and Abigail Barr to help lead the way.

Pena said she feels confident that Marcus will compete for a playoff spot this season.

“We only lost two seniors and have some returners with a lot of experience,” Pena said.

The Liberty Christian girls basketball team had another outstanding season in 2020-21, going 33-4 overall and reaching the bi-district round of the playoffs.

The Lady Warriors return Jadyn Fife (MVP of District 1, 1st team TAPPS all-state, TABC 1st team all-state) as well as Emma Wolski as starters from last year’s team.

Other players to watch include Lauren Ulrich and Marisa Martin.

The Lady Warriors went 6-2 in district competition in 2019-2020 and finished second in the district standings, and coach Ken Burroughs said “dedication/work ethic” were the reasons his team would compete for a playoff spot in 2020-21.

For the Coram Deo girls basketball team, a trip to the playoffs last season could be the first act of another strong campaign in 2020-21.

The Lady Lions return Amber Holdridge (all-state selection) and Grace Dahlstrom (first-team all-district) from last year’s team that reached the regional tournament.

Boys Court Success

The southern Denton County area is once again rife with talent in boys basketball, and this season should be no different.

The Argyle boys finished 33-4 last season and advanced to the regional tournament, winning the tournament championship to qualify for state.

The season was canceled due to COVID at that point, but the Eagles return a lot of players from that team.

Nate Atwood (TABC all-state, TABC all-region, District Offensive MVP, all region tournament team selection), Grey Goodson (MVP of regional tournament, 1st team all-district), Skylar McCurry (1st team all-district), CJ Rogers (1st team all-district), Jacob Dye (2nd team all-district), Slate McMellian (2nd team all-district) and Eli Valentino (TABC all-region, 1st team all-district) are all back from last season.

“We return 11 players from last year’s state tournament-qualifying team that played minutes for us last year,” coach Russell Perkins said.

Argyle returns all five starters (McCurry, Valentino, Rogers, Goodson, Atwood) from last year and their experience and depth should take the Eagles a long way.

In Denton, Guyer went undefeated in 5-6A competition in 2019-20 and won a district championship.

The Wildcats return Kye Lindsay (offers from University of Illinois Chicago and Oral Roberts), Brayden Bradshaw (offer from Eastern New Mexico) and Jace Williams to a team that finished 28-5 last season.

Coach Grant Long said he believes he has a strong mixture of veteran players and youth on this year’s team.

“We will be young and talented and will always be in the fight to win the district,” Long said. “We have some guys with experience, and some young guys that can really shoot the ball.”

In Flower Mound, the Jaguars finished 25-9 last season and took second place in district competition.

The Jaguars could be in a rebuilding year in 2020-21, however, as Hayden Lacey is Flower Mound’s only returning starter.

“We are really inexperienced and will be a work in progress,” coach Eric Littleton said. “But we have a great work ethic and great attitudes.”

Flower Mound was 10-4 in district competition in 2019-20.

Across town at Marcus, the Marauders finished 9-5 in district last season to capture the fourth and final playoff spot.

Assistant coach Austin Rodriguez said he believes the Marauders will compete for a playoff spot in 2020-21 for a couple of reasons

“I feel we will have a good opportunity to compete at a high level this year because we have several returners,” Rodriguez said. “That along with the experience and size that we have will give us a good opportunity to reach the postseason.”

Players to watch for Marcus this season include Nick Donnelly, Cale Martens and Brock Susko.

For the Liberty Christian boys, a 15-17 overall record and 4-4 mark in district competition should give the Warriors confidence, as all five starters return from last year’s squad.

Bradley Land (1st team all-district, 2nd team all-state), Chase Mastey, Carter Williams, Camron Reddell, and Cade Williams are all back for Liberty Christian.

Coach Preston Nadolski said he feels confident his team will be in the playoff hunt at the end of the season.

“We have seven seniors on the team this year, and six that have varsity experience,” Nadolski said. “We have improved in district play each of the last two seasons and will be looking to that again this year.”

Liberty Christian finished second in district competition last season.

For the Coram Deo boys basketball team, the Lions reached the state semifinals in 2019-20, but lost several top players to graduation.

Coram Deo does return first-team all-district selection Noah Weaver from last year’s squad.

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