Timberview, Lake Ridge eye playoffs differently

Posted Monday, Nov. 04, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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When it comes to girls basketball, Timberview and Lake Ridge have contrasting traditions. Timberview has established itself as an annual contender in the area, while Lake Ridge is in only its second season as a varsity program. At the same time, the teams each each feature second-year coaches.

Kit Martin took the reins of Timberview prior to last season, and the Lady Wolves advanced to the regional quarterfinals, where they were beaten by Flower Mound Marcus, a program Kyle coached years ago. It was short of expectations by Timberview standards, and with a senior-laden bunch this season, the bar is set high again.

“I think our expectations are first of all to make a run for the district title,” Martin said. “When you’re in the district we’re in, that’s a tall order. So, for us to really have to point toward district early, knowing it’s going to be so tough, I think it prepares us for an eventual run in the playoffs.

“This core group knows that this the last opportunity,” she added. “This is a senior-heavy team and senior heavy where the talent is concerned. So, they pretty much know this is it – it’s do or die now, because this is their last shot at it.”

The Lady Wolves return three starters from last year’s squad – Jalea Bennett, Dayo Olabode and Terielle Bradley – and hope to get a fourth starter from last season, Aurmani Degar, back from an ACL injury in January.

Behind that experience, though, Timberview is counting on a few youngsters to play significant roles this season. Two freshman have made the varsity roster: Trelynn Tyler and Alesa Gerald. Another player Martin expects to play a big part is junior post Allyson Hinds, who moves up from the JV.

With two scrimmages in the books and the season opener against Southlake Carroll on Monday, Martin feels they’re ahead of where they stood at this point a year ago. And with a tough non-district schedule, she hopes that growth incline continues.

“I love the Metroplex when it comes to girls basketball,” she said. “You’re going to see as good as it gets anywhere in the state. You’ll see all different kinds of play and abilities, and if you do anything playing in the Metroplex, if you play better teams, you’re going to be prepared when it comes time for district play and playoffs.”

Playoffs remain the goal for Lake Ridge. In its first year as a program last season, the Lady Eagles came one win short of the postseason. Three possessions, in fact.

Lake Ridge and Waxahachie squared off in the final district game of the season with the winner set to advance to the playoffs. The Lady Eagles trailed by 26 at halftime – by 18 entering the fourth quarter – and drew as close as two points. In the end, a 53-47 defeat sealed their fate, but that memory is serving as inspiration this year.

“It was a hard loss, and it really stung with our kids,” coach Stephani Grey said. “They really understood and they know where they want to be this year. Having gone through that loss, it’s definitely a driving factor. They haven’t forgotten that score and they haven’t forgotten that we lost by three possessions.”

Like Timberview, the Lady Eagles have had a more fluid preseason thanks to the familiarity the team gained over the last year.

“We know who our kids are, we know our personality a lot better and this year we were able to get into the weight room, which is critical in an offseason,” Grey said. “When you start with year one, you’re not only teaching your system, but you’re teaching your drills and all those kinds of things. I think we’re not as panicked to get everything in as we were last year.”

Lake Ridge has only two seniors this season but does return a significant amount of experience. Some of that is due to injuries last season that forced the Eagles to use a number of players.

“We’ve got a strong core group returning with at least one year of varsity experience,” Grey noted.

Grey sensed that her club got rattled early in scrimmages with Arlington Bowie and Dallas Skyline, but showed progress in its last tune-up versus Keller Fossil Ridge last Friday.

“It felt like the kids settled in and got a little more comfortable with our team and knowing where each are on the court,” Grey said.

Grey feels like it takes three to five years to really build the foundation for a program, but thinks this group has Lake Ridge off to a solid start.

“Our kids work hard in practice,” she said. “They’re great kids; they work hard every day and are great students. We’ve got a long ways to go, but they’re a fun bunch to coach, for sure.”

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