The first round of district games is always a critical cycle of matchups in determining the haves and have-nots when the postseason arrives.
Friday’s boys basketball game with Keller Timber Creek at Keller Fossil Ridge will go a long way in establishing an early pecking order.
Timber Creek and Fossil Ridge are both 2-1 going into this week. Timber Creek will face Haltom while the Panthers have a bye on Tuesday. The potential is there for Timber Creek to be locked with Abilene and just behind Keller.
For one of the teams, Friday the 13th could turn out to be a day of bad luck.
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While the Falcons lost last week to Abilene, the game with Ridge may become even bigger – if not just for the standings’ sake – because they’ll have Keller the following Tuesday.
Ridge lost to Keller last week, 65-56. Of note, R.J. Nembhard had 35 points for Keller in that game.
Fossil Ridge head coach Zack Myers said having a bye date ahead of a big game is beneficial in some ways, but can hurt as well.
Frustration was one of our biggest opponents. We fought that against Haltom. It’s something we can build on. I’m excited about that and their mentality to fight and grind.
- Fossil Ridge boys basketball coach Zack Myers
The extra preparation time is good, but it can throw a team out of the routine of playing a game every three days.
“It can also depend on if you’re healthy,” Myers said. “And if you’re playing well, you don’t really want the bye.”
The key for the Panthers is playing “the grind” well at this stage of the season, he said.
“It’s the grind of just knowing every night is going to be tough if you’re not mentally ready,” Myers said.
That grind showed that the Panthers can take a 10-point deficit and come back to win in overtime, as they did against Haltom, 54-49.
Even in the loss to Keller, Myers said they showed mental toughness and resolve.
“We didn’t let the frustration get us. Keller had us on the ropes and could have put us away, but we fought and fought. They would push the lead to 12, and we’d get it back down to six or seven,” Myers said.
Myers acknowledged Keller may be better than all others in the district, but every team will have a battle each night.
“I’m pleased with the way we’re playing and practicing,” Myers said after overcoming one of the team’s biggest obstacles.
“Frustration was one of our biggest opponents,” he said. “We fought that against Haltom. It’s something we can build on. I’m excited about that and their mentality to fight and grind.”
In District 6-5A, it’s a big week for Northwest, which is looking to build on its 3-0 district mark.
The Texans were hoping to strengthen their hold on the top spot after taking on Aledo early in the week. They’ll play at Azle on Friday.
The Texans were able to forge a win over Saginaw Chisholm Trail (2-1), 65-52, to help gain a standings advantage.
“We’re feeling good after Friday night,” said Northwest head coach Mike Hatch. “It was huge winning at Chisholm Trail.”
The win against the Rangers could be a launching point for the Texans into the stretch of the district schedule.
“It could be a turning point on playing a full 32 minutes,” Hatch said. “We’ve got a young team and it’s difficult to stay focused. The other night (against Chisholm Trail) was the first time we’ve played 32 minutes. When we’re tuned in, we have a pretty good group.”
Hatch acknowledged playing start-to-finish is hard to do and whether or not they can sustain it will be the challenge.
Still on the horizon for Northwest the following week is a showdown with White Settlement Brewer.
Keller has the early district lead at 2-0 and will face Central and Weatherford, both on the road, this week.
After Central takes on Keller, the Chargers will have a bye on Friday before readying for Ridge on Tuesday.