District 8-5A may consist of eight teams, but with three games remaining in the season, the most drama is being provided by the trio of Ellison, Killeen and Belton.
The Lady Eagles, Lady Roos and Lady Tigers (7-4) will be fighting it out the rest of the season for the final two playoff spots in the district.
Ellison and Belton are currently tied for third place with 7-4 records while Killeen is two games behind at 5-6.
“They’re tough, but I think we’re competitive with the other teams,” Ellison coach William De Gracia said. “I truly believe that we haven’t clicked yet and I’m hoping that in these three games we’re able to click. That would be sweet”
The district’s first tiebreaker is head-to-head matchups. If the teams split those games, they may opt to play a seeding tiebreaking match or flip for seeding after the season.
Killeen and Ellison split their two district matches. Belton beat both Killeen and Ellison the first time it faced the two teams during district play.
The only tiebreaker scenario that has been finalized would be between Ellison and Killeen, with the Lady Eagles and Lady Kangaroos splitting the season series.
Ellison would clinch a playoff spot with a win and Killeen loss tonight, but the Lady Eagles have the toughest remaining schedule judging by district records.
The Lady Eagles host district co-leaders Waco Midway and Copperas Cove, and Belton. The Lady Dawgs are ranked 22nd in the latest Texas Girls Coaches Association Class 5A poll and the three teams have a combined district record of 27-6.
Ellison lost to Belton earlier this season, but the season finale could decide who’s in, who’s out or who the No. 3 seed is.
The Lady Roos have the next most difficult road to the playoffs with trips to Cove and Belton before closing out the season at home against Heights.
Killeen has no margin for error trailing Belton and Ellison by two games with three remaining. The Lady Roos would be out of the playoffs if they lose tonight and both Belton and Ellison win.
Belton has the most control of its destiny with a trip to Harker Heights followed by home games against Killeen and Ellison to close out the season. The combined district record for Belton’s final three opponents is 14-19.
Belton has a win in hand over both Killeen and Ellison. A win in those final games could knock Killeen out of the playoffs and give Belton the No. 3 seed tiebreaker against Ellison.
A Belton win and Killeen loss tonight puts the Lady Tigers into the postseason.
Shoemaker, Heights and Temple have all been eliminated from playoff contention.
The playoff picture should get a little clearer after tonight’s matches.
The Race for No. 1
Cove already has a playoff spot locked up and could share the district title with Midway, or win it outright if the Lady Dawgs win and the Pantherettes slip up along the way.
The two teams split the season series and have three games remaining on the schedule against opponents that they have previously beaten.
Cove coach Cari Lowery said if the teams wind up tied, they will probably flip for seeding.
“We focus on one game at a time,” Lowery said. “They know, they’re very smart girls and they know that rankings and all that stuff doesn’t matter.”
Judging by records, the Lady Bulldawgs have a harder stretch, with a home match against Killeen followed by trips to Ellison and Shoemaker. Cove’s remaining opponents have a combined 15-18 record in district play.
Cove swept those opponents during the first round of district play, but Killeen and Ellison are still fighting to get into the playoffs.
Cove would guarantee at least a No. 2 seed with a win on Tuesday.
If Cove and Belton finished tied in the standings, Cove holds the tiebreaker because of the district sweep.
Meanwhile, Midway’s remaining opponents have a combined district mark of 10-23. The Lady Panthers make a trip to Ellison followed by home matches against two of the bottom three teams in the district: Shoemaker and Temple.