Keller Citizen

Northwest ISD basketball programs off to promising starts

With the 20123-2014 boys and girls basketball seasons just underway at both Northwest and Byron Nelson, here’s a snapshot of how each team has performed to this point. The girls season is into its third week. The boys is into its second.

Northwest Girls: If you want to call first-year coach Rusty Johnson the miracle worker, go ahead. This program won only two games in 2012-2013. But through last weekend's Northwest tournament, the Lady Texans are 4-3 and have been competitive in five of their first seven games. They've picked up wins over Fort Worth O.D. Wyatt, Everman and Birdville.

There's been solid senior leadership from Briana Barnhill, who is averaging about nine points per game. There were 20-point plus losses to Argyle Liberty Christian and Cisco. The Lady Texans continued the season Friday at Wichita Falls Rider. There's a long way to go, and things likely will get difficult. However, Johnson has this program off to a better start, which is what it really needed.

Northwest Boys: There's not a lot you can tell after one game, but coach Mike Hatch does like this team, which he hopes will be the sixth one to make the playoffs in his seven seasons. The Texans opened the season on Nov. 12 with a 75-54 victory over Frisco Liberty. Taylor Johnson led the way with 24 points. Hatch believes this could be the best team that's ever come through Northwest.

While he may not have the dominant post, there is plenty of height on the roster, with seven players who stand either 6-4 or 6-5. The offense should be in good hands with senior point guard and three-year starter Josh Tatum. What was going to make this week fun was that Northwest and Byron Nelson were meeting for the first time on Tuesday at Nelson. Expect this series to continue for the near future.

Byron Nelson Girls: Darren Wilson's experienced group has jumped out to a 4-2 start, including a 3-1 record in the Northwest Tournament. The program, which has been to the playoffs in each of the two previous seasons but not advanced past the bi-district round, has also enjoyed the return of senior guard Tralyn Woodard.

Woodard did not finish the 2012-2013 season for undisclosed reasons. That said, she erupted with a big game as she hit for 21 points in a 55-54 victory over Grapevine. There is also quality post play in Madison Edwards. Nelson doesn't play against until Nov. 25 against Prosper.

Byron Nelson Boys: While Scott Curran's team looks for the next point guard to replace Keyunta Watkins from the 2012-13 Class 4A Region I finalist team, there are still plenty of options in junior 6-7 forward Emmanuel Nzekwesi and senior 6-2 guard Thomas Williams. Williams may turn into this team's primary ballhandler.

But if the 53-42 season opening victory over Weatherford last Friday showed anything, it's that there could be a great 1-2 punch between Nzekwesi and Williams. Each scored 18 points. Following their game on Tuesday with Northwest, the Bobcats will play host to their second consecutive District 4-5A opponent in Keller on Friday. The Indians were a playoff team in 2012-13.