Entering the season with his most experienced team in recent years, coach Ken Cook knew his Saginaw Boswell girls team could be something special.
Cook was correct with that assumption. The Pioneers (22-7, 14-0 District 6-4A) won their first district title since 2007 on Tuesday when they defeated Fort Worth Eastern Hills 70-37.
The victory, along with Saginaw Chisholm Trail’s win over Birdville, gave the Pioneers a three-game lead with two to play.
“We like when we are able to fly under the radar and get lost sometimes,” Cook said. “The key this year has been our depth. We went in thinking this year that this is our year and our time to do it with eight seniors. The girls have bonded together and everyone is on board of doing what we need to do.”
The team has excelled in close games, beating Chisholm Trail and Birdville each by two points the first time and Saginaw by three.
Boswell’s most likely first-round opponent in the playoffs is former district opponent Azle, a team it lost to 56-52 on Nov. 21 at the Brewer Tournament.
“We have a couple of pretty good teams left to play [in district],” Cook said. “I always feel like you get better playing better people, both in district and out. Those two games are going to be a challenge for us, but it will be good.”
Only one Boswell player, Taneasha Rhode at 11 points per game, averages in double figures. But Markeshia Forrest, Victoria Seay and Megan Ledbetter have all been consistent scorers.
“Being balanced makes us a little bit harder to defend because we don’t just count on that one girl every night to have to score a lot,” Cook said. “If we can stay balanced and play good defense, I tell the girls then we will always have a chance.”
While the team has become a regular in the postseason, they hope to advance deep in the playoffs.
“We’re almost getting to the point of where we’re expected to be in the playoffs,” Cook said. “Our goal is to try to get to the next level. We’re not just happy getting there anymore.”
Arlington Bowie’s girls continue to roll through District 3-5A on Tuesday, knocking off North Crowley by 28 points to move to 24-2 overall and 12-0 in district.
The Volunteers, ranked No. 4 in the latest Class 5A TABC state poll, have won their 12 district games by an average of 32.8 points. Winning big isn’t necessarily the goal.
“We basically just go into each game and set goals for ourselves of what we need to do,” Bowie coach Kelly Carruthers said. “We try to make our practices intense and go against the JV boys on Wednesdays to work on our quickness and adjustments. We don’t worry about what the other teams are going to do because that’s when we tend to mess up. If we do what we need to do and focus on ourselves we are usually OK.”
Despite only dropping two games, the Volunteers have had their share of injuries.
“We haven’t really played a game this year with everyone healthy,” Carruthers said. “Our starting lineup has basically changed every game and that’s not normal for us.”
Two players the team can count on are a pair of Division I signees — Jasmine Holman, who will attend Incarnate Word, and Nicole Iloanya, who will attend San Jose State on a track scholarship after missing last season with a torn ACL. The other key offensive threat is Emerald Mayfield.
In District 3-5A, North Crowley (13-11, 7-5) leads Weatherford (15-12, 6-6) for the final playoff spot by one game with two to play. The teams will meet Tuesday in the season finale.
North Crowley plays Arlington Martin on Friday, and Weatherford meets Paschal. A North Crowley loss and a Weatherford win would create a winner-take-all game and a date with Southlake Carroll in the bi-district round.
In District 4-5A’s race for the final spot, Keller Fossil Ridge leads Keller Timber Creek and Justin Northwest by one game with two to play. Haltom is mathematically still alive.
Fossil Ridge (9-18, 5-7) plays district leader Southlake Carroll and ends the season with Timber Creek (6-21, 4-8), then second-place Keller. Should both lose Friday, Timber Creek would need a win to force a tie.
Northwest (12-13, 4-8) is also in the mix.
The Texans, with two victories, would do no worse than tie for the fourth spot, but could also end in a tie with one or both with one victory against either Richland or last-place Keller Central.
Haltom (8-15, 3-9) would have to beat last-place Keller Central and first-place Carroll to have a shot.
Taneasha Rhode, left, is the only player for Saginaw Boswell averaging in double figures.
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