Thursday, March 23, 2023

Girls Basketball Preview

Basketball season is just about to get started, and the high school girls programs of southern Denton County have a lot to feel good about.

The region produced three programs that went multiple rounds in the playoffs last season, and 2021-22 should be no different.

The Liberty Christian girls went undefeated in district and advanced to the state semifinals in 2020-2021.

The Lady Warriors return such standouts as Jadyn Fife, Emma Wolski and Emma Kay Martin this season, and coach Ken Burroughs said things are shaping up nicely.

“We return all of our starters from last season,” Burroughs said. “Experience should enable us to be a playoff team.”

Liberty finished last season with a 21-5 overall record, and Burroughs is in his 16th season at LCS.

Up the road at Argyle, the Lady Eagles finished 18-10 overall on the season and took third place in district 7-4A.

Coach Chance Westmoreland said he is feeling good about his team’s chances this season.

“We were the youngest team (started two freshmen and two sophomores) in the region last year,” Westmoreland said. “This year, we only have two seniors, but we should be one of the most experienced teams in the region. We have a good balance of size and skill. Lyles has multiple Division I basketball offers.”

The Lyles to which Westmoreland is referring is Caroline Lyles, a 5’10 Senior/Guard who came in from Fayetteville, Arkansas.

Other players to watch for the Lady Eagles include Madi Lumsden, Ashlin Crabtree (District Newcomer of the Year), Gabby Campbell,

Samantha Bacon, Savannah Bennett, Mallory Millington, Kendall Baker, Ava Valentino, Mayce Durham and Maya Bland.

“We return four starters and eight or nine lettermen from our team last year,” Westmoreland said. “Lyles, Bennett, and Millington each started at the schools they attended last year.”

Argyle reached the regional quarterfinals before falling to Bridgeport 37-36 last season, and Westmoreland said his team is looking to pick up right where it left off in 2020-21.

“Our goal this season begins with winning the district championship but we also expect to compete for a state championship,” Westmoreland said.

The Argyle coach is in his fifth season at AHS.

At Guyer High School, the Lady Wildcats finished 19-6 last season and went 11-1 in district competition, claiming a district championship.

Coach Aimee Kilgore said her team is looking pretty good early on and said she anticipates another strong season.

“We’ve had a strong offseason and preseason that shows lots of promise and upside,” Kilgore said. “We have a strong group of returners coupled with some underclassmen that will make us competitive this season.”

Players to watch for Guyer this year include KK Jones, Hailey Mason and Mariah Watson, all of which were starters last season.

Kilgore said that she does believe Guyer’s district will provide a gauntlet of stiff competition night in night out this season.

“Our district will be competitive and will likely come down to the wire,” Kilgore said. “We have several teams with a core group of returners. I don’t think there will be a given “W” on any Tuesday or Friday night.  We will all have to come prepared and ready to compete.”

Kilgore is in her eighth year at Guyer.

Over in Flower Mound, the Lady Jaguars finished up last season with a 12-13 record and missed the postseason.

Flower Mound coach Sherika Nelson said that she believes her team is ready to get things back on track in 2021-22.

“We are exciting to get official practice started and get to work on our goal of making the playoffs this year,” Nelson said. “We have put in a lot of work this off season and look forward to taking the floor this season.”

Players to watch this season for the Lady Jags include Sarah Edmondson, Madison Cox, Hailey Bingham, Alexis Adams, and Abbie Boutilier.

Nelson said she has a definite game plan for this coming season, which she believes will be effective enough to allow the Lady Jags to compete for a postseason berth.

“We look to compete for a playoff spot by controlling the paint with our height on both ends of the floor,” Nelson said. “Our offense will rely on our inside-out play with a strong balance of post play and outside shooting. Our defense will look to be aggressive and control the boards so we can get out and run transition when possible. This is a very tough district and every night will be a battle.

“We will have to be strong with the basketball and limit our turnovers in addition to our offensive and defensive strengths to make the playoffs.”

Nelson is starting her 15th year as head coach at Flower Mound and was an assistant coach for the Lady Jags for seven years prior to that.

Across town at Marcus, the Lady Marauders are attempting to rebound from a 5-19 season in 2020-21, and coach Monica Pena said the mindset this season is to make the playoffs.

“We’re adding nine new players to our roster, only returning four players,” Pena said. “We are young and energetic. Defense will be our priority.”

Keep any eye on Alina Martin, Tali Jenkins and Olivia Fredrick this year for Marcus.

Pena is in her third season at Marcus.

For Coram Deo Academy, a 4-16 season in 2020-21 has the Lady Lions anxious to get things back on track this year, and first year head coach Jackie Manack said she is impressed with what she has seen so far.

“We have a younger group this year willing to put in the work and continue to build,” Manack said. “They are competing in practices and eager to learn. It’ll be fun to watch their growth this year.”

Players to watch for Coram Deo this season include Katelyn Brandes and returning starter Presley Thomas.

In Justin, the Northwest girls finished 16-12 last season and claimed the fourth and final playoff spot in district 6-5A.

The Lady Texans lost in the bi-district round to Wichita Falls Rider.

Northwest returns last season’s 6-5A Newcomer of the Year Sydney Nicholson, as well as all-district selection Josie Copeland.

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