Byron Nelson’s girls basketball program went through its share of frustrations in each of the previous two playoff seasons.
The Lady Bobcats (23-8, 10-4 in District 5-4A) have yet to move beyond the bi-district round. But there seemed to be sense of optimism regarding Monday’s 4A Region I matchup with Birdville at Saginaw High School.
“The girls had a goal to leave a legacy,” head coach Darren Wilson said. “They’ve won a lot of games and done a lot of good things, but they wanted to leave some things behind. It’s important to them to get that gold ball and have it in the postseason trophy case at the school.”
If Nelson cleared the hurdle it likely would meet Aledo in the area round. The Lady Bearcats played in the Class 4A state tournament in 2012-2013 under then-coach Rusty Johnson, who is now at Justin Northwest.
“Anything is possible,” Wilson said. “We like what we’re doing with our offense to get our girls a lot of shots. We understand there’s still a lot of pressure on this team to get the first playoff win. But I know this team felt good about itself after we finished the regular season and got ready for the playoffs the right way.”
The emergence of freshman forward Alexis Smith who has been averaging 4-5 rebounds per game. Her presence has helped create second and third shot opportunities for the likes of Tralyn Woodard, Sydney Smallwood and Shaila Wolter. Those three have been hot from the perimeter lately. Wilson was hoping it was coming at the right time.
Wilson knows new district challenge
Wilson wasn’t really surprised by the UIL’s Feb. 3 realignment that placed Byron Nelson in District 5-6A with Northwest, Denton Guyer, Denton Ryan, Keller, Keller Central, Keller Fossil Ridge and Keller Timber Creek.
Sometimes, where schools are located eliminates some of the drama.
“We kind of expected this,” Wilson said. “We thought we were either going to go with the Keller schools or the Lewisville schools. But this is more of a natural fit for us. We know there are some really solid girls programs in Keller and Denton Guyer. We know them. We also were in the same 4A district with Timber Creek.
“But we played really well against a good [Hurst] L.D. Bell team and we beat Grapevine. So we have an idea.”
The Lady Texans (13-14, 5-9 in 4-5A) finished their season on Feb. 4 the right way with a 48-41 victory over Keller Central.
With no Briana Barnhill (knee) Bailey Porter led the way with 12 points while freshman guard Alexus Brigham had 11. Northwest needed Keller Timber Creek to knock off Keller Fossil Ridge to force a three-way tie for fourth. However, Fossil Ridge prevailed, 47-42, to claim the district’s final playoff berth.
But consider the work done by the Lady Texans. They won 11 more games this season and didn’t have a district win in 2012-2013 (2-28, 0-14). Plus, Northwest had something to play for in the final game of the regular season.