Northeast Tarrant

Lady Panthers could start district hot

Hannah Verdi (5) could return soon from an ACL injury.
Hannah Verdi (5) could return soon from an ACL injury. Star-Telegram Archive

Colleyville Heritage’s girls basketball team has a major opportunity this week. The Lady Panthers (12-4) had a chance to begin District 7-6A play quickly in its opening games against Coppell and Richland.

Coming off of blowout wins over Fort Worth South Hills (76-19) and Arlington Sam Houston (88-22) and with a starting five that didn’t have much burn time on the floor, this team should have been plenty fresh. That’s pretty important since head coach Dianna Sager is carrying only 10 on the varsity roster. And really that’s nine, since junior guard Hannah Verdi is still recovering from a torn ACL.

“We have a lot of confidence, so we could work on some things [during those games],” she said. “Our bench scored 41 points on Friday, so I think we know we have some players who can contribute.”

Sager, though, doesn’t shorten her bench. All nine are receiving quality minutes.

Verdi’s return

Verdi tore her ACL in April (the surgery was in May), and Sager said she has been cleared to return to playing.

But there is a process. Sager said she doesn’t want to work Verdi back too quickly. There is an adjustment that has to be made to get her back into playing shape.

Sager was hopeful Verdi could return full-time by the end of this month. This week was going to determine if that was possible. It would appear that Sager is using a conservative approach. While Verdi may make an appearance in the Duncanville tournament, she could see more action in January.

This is the second player on this program to go through a torn ACL. Caitlyn Foster suffered hers in 2014-2015. Both Foster and Verdi incurred their injuries in the offseason.

“It’s the training and how aggressive the trainers are in treating the knee,” Sager said. “It’s also about how hard the kid is willing to work. If they go to rehab all summer, they’re ready to go. Hannah has really put herself in a great position.”

But the point guard duties shouldn’t change. The starter is still going to be junior McKinley Charles.

Grapevine update

The Lady Mustangs (3-8) are going into District 6-5A this week play knowing that they must put the frustrations of the non-district season behind them and start anew.

Grapevine lost to Coppell, 33-32, in overtime on Dec. 8. Grapevine let a seven-point lead in the fourth quarter slip away.

“We got off to a great start (Grapevine scored 16 of its 32 points in the first quarter), but then we made some bad decisions down the stretch,” head coach Lindy Lombard said. “When Coppell switched to a zone, we struggled.”

For this team to play at a playoff-caliber level, Lombard needs her top offensive players to score and shoot. Senior Abby Sandy converted three 3-pointers against Coppell. But she only attempted four. That also includes junior Tatum Tellin.

“We’re thankful those games educated us quickly,” Lombard said. “It’s not a lack of taking shots. It’s a lack of making them. But it’s our job as coaches to build up their confidence in their shots.”

Grapevine played host to Fort Worth Eastern Hills on Tuesday followed by playing host to Fort Worth Dunbar on Friday.