The Crowley girls basketball team hit a 3-pointer with seconds remaining in Friday's game against Cleburne, but Cleburne prevailed by the narrowest of margins, 50-49.
However, the margin of difference between this season and last for Cleburne is far from that of Friday's final score.
At the halfway point of the district schedule last year, Cleburne had failed to pick up a district win in coach Jamie Calahan's first season with the program.
Since then, Calahan's players have bought into the system and put in the work in the off-season to make a change.
"The kids that I have now played all spring last year and they played all summer and all fall," Calahan said. "They've been putting in the work to get where they are now. That's just them buying into what we're doing and just getting after it and understanding what it takes to be a good, elite team."
Now, exactly a year later, Calahan's team sits in second place in District 8-4A with a 6-1 district record (16-10 overall), behind undefeated Waco.
Cleburne's leadership comes from a trio of returning juniors who have started for the Yellow Jackets since their freshman year: Bria McCullough, Courtney Jeffcoat and Avery Hough.
Driving those three, and the whole program, is the state of mediocrity that plagued the program over the past three years, in which the team failed to make the playoffs. And even before that drought, Cleburne typically limped into the postseason as a third or fourth seed, Calahan said.
"These kids here are tired of hearing that it can't be done here," Calahan said. "That's motivated them. I have two or three that are juniors that started as freshmen. They've matured through it a little bit and have been through the trenches and been through the ups and downs and they're turning the corner."
Fort Worth Trimble Tech (20-5, 6-1 in District 7-4A) scored a huge win in the race for the district title Friday by handing Aledo its first district loss, 50-42.
Trimble Tech relied on three scorers finishing with double-digit points to beat the district rival, led by Lakendra Bassett with 17. Aledo's high-point player, Mallory Powell, tied Bassett for the game-high with 17 as well.
The win creates a three-way tie atop District 7-4A between Trimble Tech, Aledo (16-5, 6-1) and Granbury (15-11, 6-1).
Previously, Granbury beat Trimble Tech 51-49 and Aledo beat Granbury 46-40.
Another interesting wrinkle in the district race is Granbury's loss to Trimble Tech, 31-30, in the Northwest Tournament before district play began.
These three teams won't face each other again until the last three weeks of the regular season.
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