The Hurst L.D. Bell girls basketball team is hitting all the high notes heading into the heart of its District 6-5A schedule.
The Blue Raiders are 16-1 after winning the Boswell Holiday Classic title. And their defense held all four of its tournament opponents to less than 40 points.
But coach Brock Pembleton said none of that matters much if his team can’t continue its current trend.
“Everything we were doing, we were doing in prep for our district race,” Pembleton said. “The tournament was good, but our whole focus is on the district.”
Bell (16-1, 4-0 in 6-5A) plays at Carrollton Turner on at 6:30 p.m. Friday. Last weekend, it was the Blue Raiders’ defense that stood out, holding Richland to 23 points in the championship game.
“Those girls know how to play, especially my seniors,” Pembleton said. “I wasn’t surprised they [held Richland to 23 points]. I knew they could do it. I was very thrilled with our [younger] players. I was real happy with how the other girls got after it.”
Pembleton said going straight into a tournament after Christmas Day was tough — Bell played Trophy Club Nelson at 10:30 a.m. on Dec. 26. But Pembleton pointed to his team having to play Irving Nimitz on Dec. 10 after a five-day layoff, a game in which the Blue Raiders started slowly but won comfortably.
Bell escaped Nelson 42-37, but the game had a similar grind-it-out feel, Pembleton said.
“We had a little bit of experience with that with the ice storm and we came back and won, but not very well,” Pembleton said. “I kind of used that as my motivation. We couldn’t have that because Byron Nelson was one of the toughest teams in the tournament.”
Nelson gets boost
The opening game of the Boswell tournament between Trophy Club Nelson and Bell proved to be the closest game either team would play during the weekend.
After losing to the Blue Raiders, Nelson won out, beating Joshua, Fort Worth Western Hills and Frisco, all by double digits, to win the consolation bracket.
While the end result didn’t turn out to be a championship, coach Darren Wilson said his team didn’t feel it left empty-handed.
“I think we were happy with the effort — not happy with the outcome — because if you look at the outcome of that tournament, both us and Bell won out pretty handily,” Wilson said. “It made us feel good.”
Wilson pointed to his team’s depth — after the 42-37 loss to Bell, all 13 players on Nelson’s roster played in the remaining three games. Tralyn Woodard leads the team in scoring at 10 points a game, but the rest of Nelson’s starting five average between eight and nine points a game, Wilson said.
“We’re pretty balanced,” he said.
Nelson (13-4, 3-1 in 5-4A) resumes district play at 6 p.m. Friday at home against Denton Guyer. Its performance in the Boswell tournament, in particular against a 5A team in Bell, has provided Nelson with momentum, Wilson said.
“We come out of that tournament and make sure everybody’s healthy and use it as a springboard,” Wilson said. “We kind of used it as a barometer. Hanging with Bell like we did, it adds to our confidence heading back into district [play].”
Back on schedule
Most area schools will be back in session Monday after a two-week winter break. That also means area basketball teams will be able get back to a more normal practice and game schedule.
The UIL’s five-day holiday restriction prevented teams from practicing in the days leading up to the flurry of tournaments that began Dec. 26. And with no school this week, coaches have had to switch up normal practice schedules. Nelson, for example, has practiced 8-10 a.m. each day this week.
“Right now, you just want to keep it fun,” Wilson said. “Those kids are sitting there and watching all their other friends on vacation and our kids come into work every day.”
Calling all coaches
Area statistical leaders begin with the Sept. 7 edition. Send your team and individual stats to firstname.lastname@example.org.