The plan last fall for the Hurst L.D. Bell girls basketball team was in place: Cierra Johnson would split time between point guard and shooting guard, allowing her to focus more on defense and catch an occasional breather on the bench.
Then, just days before the Raiders’ first practice, the team’s other point guard tore a knee ligament.
“We didn’t expect it to happen, and when it did happen, we were all devastated,” Johnson said. “Of course, we had to suck it up, step up and do our job. For me, I was like ‘OK, Coach is going to want me to do it.’ ”
Johnson, a defensive specialist, would be asked to run the offense full time. The result was a 29-3 season, best in Bell history, that ended with a loss to Duncanville in the Class 5A Region I finals. Along the way, Johnson racked up 17.3 points and 5.3 steals a game on her way to being selected as Star-Telegram Player of the Year.
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Bell’s loss was Duncanville’s 104th win in a row. Still, the Raiders advanced further in the playoffs than any team in school history.
And for Johnson, the season capped a four-year varsity career marked by multiple awards. She was the District 6-5A MVP this season, earned 6-5A first-team honors all four seasons, and was named defensive player of the year last year.
As a freshman, she came off the bench before sliding into a starting role once district play began.
Bell coach Brock Pembleton said that year’s group of freshmen — which included Johnson and fellow 2013-14 District 6-5A first-teamers Sheridan Pilcher and Maggie Lockwood — played so well together that he wanted to keep them together on the court. But eventually, he had to get Johnson out there on an extended basis.
“When I divided [the freshman] out, they didn’t play as well,” Pembleton said. “But when we got into the first part of district, it was obvious we needed to have [Johnson] starting.”
Next fall, Johnson will head down the road to UT Arlington. She signed with the Mavericks in November after also receiving interest from Stephen F. Austin, Texas Tech, Texas A&M and Colorado State. She said it’s slowly sinking in that her high school career is over.
“It’s hard to believe,” she said. “It’s just now hitting me. It’s just so different. I miss it already.”
G Cierra Johnson, 5-8, Sr., Hurst L.D. Bell: 17.2 points per game, 4.7 rebounds, 4.4 assists, 5.3 steals. The UTA signee and top 5A scorer in Tarrant County led a Bell offense that averaged nearly 60 points a game.
G McKinley Bostad, 5-7, Sr., Kennedale: 22.0 points, 5.9 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 4.4 steals. The Arkansas signee followed her all-state junior season by finishing near the top among area scoring leaders.
G Alyssa Dry, 5-9, Jr., Aledo: 16.2 points, 4.7 rebounds, 4.7 assists, 4.2 steals. The Texas pledge was named the District 7-4A MVP and led the Bearcats to a No. 2 finish in the TABC regular-season poll.
P Bailey Broadnax, 6-0, Sr., Crowley: 15 points, 10 rebounds, 3 blocks. Broadnax was a breakout star in Class 4A after giving up volleyball to focus her senior year solely on basketball.
G Kennedy Leonard, 5-10, Jr., Southlake Carroll: 13 points, 5 rebounds, 8.4 assists. The lone repeat selection, Leonard gave defenses fits in transition while leading Carroll in assists.
G Gretchen Morrison, 5-9, Sr., Southlake Carroll: 13.6 points per game, made 41 percent of her FG attempts, and sank 89 3-pointers.
G Crystal Allen, 5-8, Sr., Fort Worth Trimble Tech: Top player in FWISD, 11 points, 3 rebounds, 1.2 assists.
P Justis Szczepanski-Beavers, 6-4, Jr., Aledo: 14.5 points, 8.2 rebounds, made 58 percent of FG attempts.
F Sydney Brock, 6-1, Sr., Richland: 12.4 points, 10.4 rebounds, 3.5 steals.
G Jazmine Holman, 5-8, Sr., Arlington Bowie: 10.2 points, 5.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 4.7 steals.
Newcomer of the Year
F Lexi Gordon, 5-11, Fr., Hurst L.D. Bell: 12.6 points, 6.7 rebounds.