Lady Texans find themselves in playoff chase

01/20/2014 1:24 PM

01/20/2014 1:26 PM

In a validation of what this season has been for the Northwest girls basketball program, the Lady Texans are tied for a playoff spot.

Given the nightmare this program endured for the three previous seasons, the fact that the Lady Texans (11-11, 3-6 in District 4-5A) are in this race shows things are changing.

Look no further than last Friday at Keller Fossil Ridge. Down 32-16 at the half, Northwest closed to within nine going into the fourth quarter.

The Lady Texans then used a 17-point fourth quarter to send the game into overtime and pulled out the heart-stopper in double overtime, 64-62. The post play of Bailey Porter and Briana Barnhill continued to emerge as the two combined for 33 points. Porter scored 21, while Barnhill added 12.

Why did this happen? Head coach Rusty Johnson said he didn’t change anything with his offensive approach, despite the deficit. The movement was fine. The team just didn’t knock down shots.

“Everything we did in the first half, we executed,” Johnson said. “We just chipped away. We controlled the boards. We got defensive stops at the end of regulation and both overtimes. You’re in this business to see what it was like in the locker room after the game. The excitement was amazing.”

Now every game adds to the relevancy Johnson has been preaching to his team. The Lady Texans play host to Haltom on Tuesday and visit Carroll on Friday.

Road warriors

The Lady Texans’ 3-6 district record is a bit strange. All three wins have come on the road – at Haltom, Keller Central and Keller Fossil Ridge. They have yet to win a district home game.

But if this team is going to make the playoffs, defending the home floor had to start Tuesday against Haltom. Northwest has home games against Keller Timber Creek and Keller Central.

“We control our destiny,” Johnson said. “And we have to beat the people we’re competing with. If we do that against those people like Haltom, Central and Timber Creek, that will go a long way. It’s just going to be a matter of how we handle it.”

Byron Nelson update

When Byron Nelson (20-5, 7-2 in District 5-4A) reached the 20-win plateau following last Friday’s 35-31 victory over Denton, not one word was said.

In fact, this team has bigger goals.

“The players came to me and said they want to win 25 games,” head coach Darren Wilson said. “I said, ‘I love that.’ That’s what their expectations should be.”

Nelson began the week tied for second in the district with Denton Guyer, one game behind Wichita Falls Rider. The Lady Bobcats played at Wichita Falls Rider on Tuesday and play host to Lake Dallas on Friday.

Bench getting thinner

Nelson’s bench will be thinner for the remainder of the season. Reserve guard Taren Butler suffered a knee injury in Friday’s win over Denton. As of Monday, an MRI had not been performed yet, but Wilson said it appears to be a torn ACL.

The Lady Bobcats were going about three deep on the bench. Wilson said he and his staff are looking at different substitution patterns and possibly bringing up a player from the junior varsity.

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