Playoff experience is something the Birdville girls basketball program (12-16, 7-7 in District 6-4A) has lacked for some time now.
The last time the Hawks tasted the postseason was in 2007-08 as the district champion, but four straight non-playoff seasons followed.
Birdville could break its dry spell tonight with a win over Saginaw Chisholm Trail thanks to an addition to the program.
In her second year at the helm of the Hawks, coach Amy Ingram hired former Mansfield Summit assistant coach Ashley Atkins to fortify Birdville's defensive play. Atkins also brought the experience of a state championship last year with Summit.
"I've had her tell stories to our kids about what it takes to get there and how much of a commitment you have to have," Ingram said. "So it's been nice to have her on staff to say, 'This is how we did stuff last year.'"
The players bought into that commitment by making basketball a priority 12 months of the year and not just in-season. Ingram said the majority of her players are involved with some kind of year-round basketball program as well as a strength and conditioning program through the summer months.
Ingram also realized participation in Birdville's other athletic programs can create success for her team.
The extra experience has done wonders for a young program featuring just two seniors among a group of mostly freshmen and sophomores.
Leading that charge is sophomore guard Brittany Perraut, who utilized a season on Birdville's freshman team last year to grow into the varsity's leading scorer this season, averaging 9.5 points per game.
But credit a defensive switch to Birdville's streak of three wins in the last four district games that has it tied for fourth place with Fort Worth North Side, against whom Birdville owns the tiebreaker.
Birdville began the season running a zone but decided to simplify the whole strategy after a 76-34 loss to Fort Worth Dunbar on Jan. 11, going to man-to-man.
"We've been focusing on fundamentals and went back to a man-to-man defense, and we've been playing well ever since then," Ingram said.
All thanks to a different school's title run last season.
"To have a coach like that come in and help our program has been a blessing as well," Ingram said of Atkins.
Not enough pressure
Not often do you find a coach wishing her opponents to turn up the pressure on defense, but such is the case for Southlake Carroll's Teri Morrison.
Her confidence is found in a backcourt with stellar ball-handling skills featuring sophomore guard Kennedy Leonard and senior guard Kami Mickens.
"We have two point guards that are hard to press. I would love people to press us. We don't see a lot of it," Morrison said after Carroll's win over Richland last week.
Morrison said the only team that pressed Carroll this season was Oregon City (Ore.) in the Iolani Classic in Hawaii, which resulted in a 65-44 Dragons loss.
Carroll (18-9, 10-1 District 4-5A) remains at the top of the standings, a game up on Richland (21-7, 9-2) and Keller (18-12, 9-2).
"We're the team to beat, like always," she said. "You got to get a dragon. I'm not trying to be confident, but that's what we are."
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