With 17 basketball playoff appearances in 18 years, and a state title in 2008, the North Crowley boys team has garnered much of the school’s hardwood notoriety.
Girls coach Donny Ott is determined to change the landscape.
“Our district is extremely tough and in all honesty one of the most competitive and balanced districts I can remember in my eight years here,” Ott said.
And the Panthers are in the thick of the District 4-6A race. North Crowley (22-8, 7-3 in 4-6A) is in third place with a home game Friday against second-place Arlington Lamar.
“Our girls love being around each other and spend a lot of time together,” Ott said. “From a coaching standpoint I love the fact that I feel this team can play any style needed to compete and win games.”
North Crowley made the postseason in 2015, and 10 times since 2002. Its best finish came in 2005 and 2011 in the regional semifinals.
“That’s our goal every year and it would be a special moment for these players,” Ott said. “They are a very well-deserving bunch of kids and our staff is very blessed to work with them daily. We love them for their tireless commitment to each other and our program, so obviously we want to see the payoff for them.”
In tournament play, the Panthers placed third at Haslet Eaton — losing to 6A No. 3 Euless Trinity — went 5-0 to win the Gold Division II championship at the McDonald’s Texas Invitational, and played six games in two days, including against two state-ranked teams, at Waco’s M.T. Rice event.
“These experiences have molded our team to be tough through mental and physical adversity,” Ott said. “Hopefully this will allow us to make that playoff push that our seniors hope to achieve.”
Three seniors are committed to play at the next level. Jurnee President (New Mexico Junior College) was nominated as a McDonald’s All-American; Remi Williams (Mary-Hardin Baylor) hit a school record eight 3-pointers Jan. 20 against Mansfield; and Kylea Johnson is going to Hill College.
President is averaging a team-high 12.5 points per game, while five other players are averaging more than five points per game. As a team, the Panthers are averaging 30.7 rebounds and 14 steals per contest.
“Our players are so unselfish that it allows us as coaches to have a lot of flexibility within our offense,” Ott said. “They truly don’t care about who scores the most points; they are concerned about trying to make the best basketball play.”