The Keller Fossil Ridge girls team knew they had no other options.
A loss Tuesday against Keller Timber Creek would eliminate them from playoff contention. A win would send them to the playoffs.
The sense of do-or-die was only heightened as they watched their nine-point lead shrink to one with less than a minute to play. Then Timber Creek tied the game at 42 with 15 seconds to go before Jordan Lake converted a three-point play to put Fossil Ridge up for good.
The result was a 47-42 win and a first-round playoff game against District 3-5A champion Arlington Bowie at 7 p.m. Monday at Thomas Coliseum in Haltom.
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“This season has been a come-from-behind story the entire year,” Fossil Ridge coach Stacy Henson said. “Even when we were leading, and they made a little run at us, I told them we’ve been in a lot worse positions than we are right now.”
The Panthers (6-8 in 4-5A) won three out of their past four, avoiding a tiebreaker scenario with Justin Northwest and Timber Creek. A Fossil Ridge loss Tuesday would’ve resulted in all three of those teams finishing 5-9 in what proved to be a top-heavy district with Southlake Carroll, Keller and Richland comfortably in the first three playoff spots.
Fossil Ridge (10-19 overall) now turns its attention to Arlington Bowie, No. 4 in the latest Texas Association of Basketball Coaches girls state 5A poll. Bowie is 26-2 and went 14-0 in district.
“Up until [Wednesday morning], we hadn’t talked about anybody but Timber Creek,” Henson said. “But there’s no sense in lying: Arlington Bowie is phenomenal. I’m always a fan of the underdog and obviously we’re the underdog right now.”
Senior leads Crowley
Crowley (15-10, 9-5) will play Burleson (18-10, 9-5) at 6:30 p.m. Friday in Joshua to determine which team gets the third playoff spot out of District 8-4A.
One of the big reasons for Crowley’s success this season has been the play of senior post Bailey Broadnax, a three-sport athlete who this year just focused on basketball. The decision has resulted in Broadnax receiving interest from Howard Payne and Hill College, among others.
“She’s been a leader for us the past two years,” Crowley coach Rhonda Jackson said. “She’s grown a lot in the off-season. This year, she’s really blossomed.”
Jackson said Broadnax has improved throughout the season. And she’s been an example in the locker room and the classroom.
“She’s been averaging from 20 to 30 points a game and 15 to 20 rebounds a game lately,” Jackson said. “She’s always been a leader for us as far as actions. The teachers always nominate the best kids in the school. Out of all of her junior class, she won female junior of the year last year.”
A first for Lake Ridge
How do you build a program from the ground up?
That’s been the question Mansfield Lake Ridge coaches and players have begun to answer this year in the school’s second year.
The football team finished 2-8 but was competitive in all but two games. The boys basketball team is tied for third in District 15-4A. And now, the girls basketball team will be heading to the playoffs.
The Lake Ridge girls beat Lancaster 39-31 on Tuesday to clinch the final playoff spot in 15-4A. Coach Stephani Gray said it was an emotional scene after the game.
“It was a huge win, and the emotions were about making playoffs and how much we love this team and their fight and their heart,” Gray said.
Lake Ridge finished 11-18 last year and 6-6 in league play. Gray said a year of experience helped, especially after her team had a chance late last season to make the postseason. Outside of that, it was all about believing.
“I think it’s just having a buy-in from kids and their parents and just buying into our system and believing,” Gray said. “What kind of turned our team around was believing in ourselves. It’s hard to build a program. When you don’t see wins coming immediately, it’s hard not to get down. We have a really strong group of kids making a really solid foundation.”