When the Harker Heights girls lost to defending district champion Ellison at home Dec. 17, it appeared, on the surface, to be a valiant effort by a hopeful contender at unseating the unbeaten Lady Eagles.
Of course, that wasn’t the case.
Just one look at the box score revealed the Lady Knights, who lost 55-47, outscored Ellison by two in the first, third and fourth quarters — a five-point second quarter the culprit in the loss.
But now, four games into the 8-5A season, the early district picture is beginning to come into focus.
And the Lady Knights, at this point, may be closer to the top than initially expected.
Heights and Killeen, a team the Lady Knights rallied to defeat at home in the second game of league play, sit one game behind Ellison, who remains the only unbeaten in District 8-5A.
That is fitting because the Lady Knights and Lady Roos have looked the best of any team not named Ellison in the young district season.
Killeen showed heart in erasing a 10-point deficit and nearly taking a victory at Heights while the Lady Knights showed resilience and explosiveness on offense in rallying from five down with 1:31 to play for victory.
The rematch Jan. 17 will certainly be one to watch.
Yet the district picture becomes significantly foggier after that, which perhaps is the real surprise.
Copperas Cove and Temple both have losing records in this young district season after finishing second and third behind Ellison last season.
Both teams lost significant contributors to graduation, including 8-5A Co-offensive Player of the year Shante Goff for Cove and three all-district first teamers for Temple, but both also returned considerable talent, which makes the slow start a bit puzzling.
That said, Heights finds itself ahead of two 2012 playoff teams in the standings, both of whom they play at home seven days apart in early January.
If the Lady Knights can hold serve, they’ll find themselves not only in strong position to return to the postseason following a 2-12 district campaign last year, but they’d also be in position to truly contend for the district title.
And why not the Lady Knights? Heights boasts two of the biggest matchup nightmares in all of District 8-5A in Sam Houston State signee Angela DeLaney and junior point guard Alexus Dukes.
The key will be to continue trending upward as district play continues.
Coach Shirretha Nelson has harped on eliminating those dry spells where the ball just doesn’t seem to go in the basket and second-chance points are scarce.
It is impressive that the Lady Knights have shown the firepower to make up for these dry spells, like they did in wins against Belton and Killeen.
If they can eliminate them completely, they might find themselves serious contenders for more than just a playoff spot.