It has been a long time since Lampasas girls basketball has been relevant.
That could be changing.
While nondistrict games are virtually meaningless in the big picture, if the Lady Badgers’ season-opening surge is any indication of things to come, the program could be in for one of the best seasons in recent history.
Undefeated through four games, Lampasas is looking to snap a decade-plus long postseason absence, having failed to reach the playoffs since 2001 — the year after current head coach Jenny Bowden graduated from the Lady Badgers’ roster.
In the seasons since, the team, which reached the postseason five consecutive years prior to its drought, has threatened to snap the streak on a couple of occasions, but has fallen short.
Although Lampasas’ strong start is promising, the way the Lady Badgers are winning is equally impressive.
With only one senior on the team, Lampasas has dominated its opposition thus far, winning by an average of 18.7 points following a two-point victory at Salado on opening night.
Three Lady Badgers have led the team offensively, with guard Qadrey Tolliver accomplishing the feat twice. The junior scored a game-high 15 points in a 53-32 win against McGregor before posting 12 points, including two 3-pointers, helping Lampasas beat Wimberley 44-30 on Friday.
Caitlyn Shaughnessy (17 points against Salado) and Nola Bishop (11 points against Taylor) have also led the team in scoring this season, and eight Lady Badgers have contributed offensively in three of the four games entering tonight’s home contest against Robinson.
Inside presence helps Knights overcome turnovers in opener
Harker Heights coach Celneque Bobbitt wasn’t exactly satisfied with the Knights’ 66-30 season-opening win against Austin Reagan, but he was happy with the No. 15 Knights’ offense down low.
Knights big men Celneque Bobbitt II and Louisiana Monroe-signee Roderick Taylor combined to score 28 points against the Raiders as Heights ran away with the game after halftime.
The Knights turned a 14-point lead at the half into a 28-point lead by the start of the fourth to ice the win on the road.
And Heights did that despite turning the ball over at an alarming rate, one coach Bobbitt attributed to first-game jitters but wasn’t excited about either.
But turnovers or not, Heights is 1-0 on the season and on the road, and will have to win away from home again if it hopes to move to 2-0.
The Knights visit Austin LBJ, the No. 8 team in the Class 4A TABC poll, at 7 p.m. today.
— Jordan Mason
New team, same impressive victory for Ellison girls
Last season, en route to winning the District 8-5A title, a senior-laden Ellison team topped a Georgetown team with high hopes in Class 4A for an impressive early-season victory.
Ellison is no longer a senior-laden team, and Georgetown is the defending Class 4A champion.
But the result was the same when the two teams met a week ago as No. 21 Ellison stifled No. 8 Georgetown in a 36-28 win at Ellison.
Senior point guard Francesca Patrick, who was playing in her first varsity season last year, acknowledged how big the win was for the young Ellison team, considering what it had lost from a year ago.
Ellison hopes the win is an early indicator that, even without the 2012 co-district MVP Kenesha Saygo, the Lady Eagles still have the talent and chemistry to compete for a second straight district crown.
Ellison (5-1) will look to continue its early momentum today when it visits Waco at 6:30 p.m.
— Jordan Mason
Cress, bench playing vital role for Roos
Junior Demarius Cress may not have been a part of the starting lineup in the Killeen Kangeroos’ two wins this season, but he’s still made his presence known this season.
Cress has been a part of a bench that has helped give the Roos starters a breather during their uptempo games and helped the team beat Waco University 87-62 in the season opener on Tuesday and Pflugerville Connally 71-60 on Friday.
“They do what they’re supposed to,” Killeen boys basketball coach Reggie Huggins said.
“They come in give a spark. They know their role and what they’re supposed to do. You try to make things happen.”
Against Waco University, Cress was the leading scorer with 16, including four 3-pointers. He led the bench with 11 points against Connally.
The Roo bench is averaging 29.5 points per game through the opening week of the season.
Senior Demariel Baker had a strong performance off the bench in the opener against Waco University with 10 points, while Dante Ellis-Thomas added six points against Connally.
“He’s going to be a big part of this team come district time,” senior post Melvin Anthony said about Ellis-Thomas.
Ellis-Thomas was playing in his first game for the Killeen basketball team since coming over from the football team, which finished one game out of a playoff spot.
— Albert Alvarado
Charitable Lady Roos
The Killeen Lady Kangaroos lost two of the first three games during the Bowie Be-YOU-tiful Classic in Austin on Thursday and Friday, but the area where the Lady Roos’ opponents did the most damage was from the free-throw line.
In losses to host Austin Bowie and Round Rock Stony Point, Killeen put those teams on the line often. Conversely, in a tournament opening win over Manor, Killeen limited that opponent’s opportunities.
Bowie beat Killeen by hitting 27 out of 35 shots from the charity stripe in a 48-45 win.
“Fouling is a big lapse in our game,” Killeen forward Raven Ringo said. “We just sent them to the free-throw line too many times. I know they hit 27 out of the 35 that we put them on the line. They’re a good free-throw shooting team and we just have to move our feet, put our hands up and stop fouling.”
Against Bowie, Killeen went to the free-throw line 22 times and hit half of those shots.
“We’re reaching too much. There’s some body contact and things like that and we weren’t adjusting to the calls,” Killeen girls basketball coach Latisha Williams said after the loss to Bowie.
“We just kept putting them on the free-throw line.”
Earlier in the week, the Roos beat Burnet 60-34, but Burnet shot 17 of 32 from the free-throw line to Killeen’s 15 of 24.
Conversely, in a tournament-opening win over Manor, the Roos put Manor on the line only 15 times, with Manor hitting nine.
— Albert Alvarado
Lometa boys take a slight slide in rankings
Lometa has yet to play a game, but it still managed to slip in the rankings.
With the Hornets scheduled to play their season opener today at Priddy, the team fell one spot in the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches poll. After debuting at No. 17 in the preseason poll, Lometa dropped to No. 18 among Class 1A, Division II teams in the recent rankings.
The Hornets are returning four starters, including Eric Nichols, Shane Stone, Pedro De Luna and Kyle Molter, but might need some time to jell as a team after the quartet, along with others on the roster, recently joined the squad after helping the football team reach the playoffs.
Lometa’s postseason run came to an end Friday, however, as Gordon defeated the Hornets 44-28 in the bi-district round of the six-man playoffs.
Rankings are of little significance for Lometa head coach Aaron Nuckles, whose primary concern is making a deep run in the postseason.
Entering his third season, Nuckles’ teams have reached the playoffs in each of the last two years but have not advanced beyond the area round.
— Clay Whittington