Northeast Tarrant

Looking at our coverage teams’ chances in girls hoops playoffs

The high school girls state basketball playoffs are less than one week away from starting. But you won’t find much drama among our coverage teams trying to claim spots.

Justin Northwest clinched its first playoff berth in several years. Keller, Grapevine and Carroll have wrapped up district championships and are looking to complete undefeated district runs. Colleyville Heritage is returning once again.

The only drama remaining was Keller Fossil Ridge needing to beat Northwest Byron Nelson on Tuesday to clinch its spot. If so, that would give the area six playoff teams.

How far can each go? Well, it really comes down to matchups, health and getting hot at the right time. Nevertheless, let’s give our view of what each is capable of doing.

Carroll: The Lady Dragons usually can get through to the Region I quarterfinals. Then, they’ve run into a problem. This team has probably the best 1-2 scoring duo in Region I between senior point guard Kennedy Leonard and sophomore forward Priscilla Smeenge. But if this team is going to reach the Region I tournament, it needs physical play from the front court of Anna Hurlburt and Madison Drescher.

Keller: I really like this group. It’s a pretty gritty group. Remember, this team put it on Carroll back in December. Doug Sporrer’s team doesn’t seem to get a lot of talk about making a deep run. But the Lady Indians can do it, especially when you have a special player like senior guard Lexi Burns.

Colleyville Heritage: Bi-district blues have really been the story in previous postseason trips. The Lady Panthers have really struggled shooting the ball. With the likes of Caitlyn Ford, Seairra Ford and Charlotte Collyer getting into game shape, they are going to need every bit of that against a very athletic DeSoto or Cedar Hill team.

Grapevine: There’s enough senior leadership on this team between the likes of Nicole Taake, Reem Bayaa and Sydney Bowers to make the push to Levelland and the Region I tournament. This group has only made the playoffs once (2013), so there’s not much postseason experience. How they respond in these win-or-else scenarios will be the key.

Justin Northwest: Rusty Johnson’s team just climbed the mountain. Two years removed from a program that won only two games, this team sought its 20th victory on Tuesday. Finishing second is far better than finishing third in District 5-6A. The Lady Texans wanted to avoid playing Flower Mound in the bi-district round. But this group has to make sure it doesn’t have the “We’re just happy to be here” mentality. That can strike programs like this often.

Keller Fossil Ridge: Presuming that the Lady Panthers made it, they were going to draw the District 6-6A champion in likely undefeated Plano West. That’s probably going to be a thankless task. But credit head coach Stacey Henson for getting this program back to the playoffs.

Looking at 2016 class

Our coverage area had a solid showing with 11 2015 Division I football signees. The story has yet to be told for the 2016 class.

But be assured, the talent in this group is probably better than it has been in several years. And that’s including 2013 when Cody Thomas and Kenny Hill were playing. Carroll will have at least two Division I prospects in safety Obi Eboh (he holds double figure D1 offers) and running back Lil’Jordan Humphrey (he has several and just received one from Texas) who will likely play another position in college. Then there’s wide receiver, Will Farrar who has several offers including Iowa.

Northwest Byron Nelson has two highly touted recruits in offensive lineman Kellen Diesch and Brandon Bowen. Those two have several Power Five conference school offers and overlap with Oklahoma, Ole Miss and Baylor.

In Keller, defensive lineman Houston Miller already has offers from Duke and Boston College but is getting some serious looks from Texas schools including Baylor.

There will be more to add to the 2016 class. Currently, Division I programs are in what is a quiet period where they can only communicate with recruits electronically. Recruits can visit the campus if they wish. The next on-campus evaluation period begins April 15.