By Alex Byington
Harker Heights Herald
As far as girls basketball is concerned, it was the greatest season on record.
From the start of the year, the Harker Heights girls flat out dominated the competition, regularly blowing out opponents by 30-plus points a night en route to a 29-0 start.
Led by five multi-year starters, including Division I-bound 6-footer Eboniey Jeter and fellow seniors Shanice Davis and Brianna Golden at guard, the Lady Knights combined sheer talent with weathered experience to win its first-ever District 12-5A championship.
And if not for a 62-49 stumble against Temple on Jan. 24, Heights' run at perfection would have continued for several more weeks.
The Lady Knights stumbled once more, though, with a season-ending region quarterfinal loss to Garland Sachse to finish with a school-record 35-2.
Of course, girls basketball wasn't the only success story at Heights this year, joined by their hard-court male counterparts, who equaled last season's district-champion 10-2 run in 12-5A to finish runner-up to A&M Consolidated.
Off the court, there weren't many deep playoff runs, even for the few teams that made the postseason, with boys soccer going one-and-done again after advancing to the playoffs for the third time in the last four years.
The highlight of the year came in the lanes, where the Heights bowling team wrapped up a runner-up finish at state. Individually, successes included a Top-5 finish in state for Knights 160-pound senior Michael Duran, a pair of sixth-place finishes for junior sprinter Brandon Hill.
Top 5 Performances
1. District domination: Locking things up with one game left, the Lady Knights stifled A&M Consolidated during a 10-0 run in the second quarter en route to a dominating 59-33 victory Feb. 3 to clinch the program's first-ever District 12-5A crown.
2. 40-point blowout: Dominant nearly all season, including starting the year on a 29-0 run, the Lady Knights' most dominant win came when No. 8-ranked Harker Heights outrebounded Tyler Lee 50-24 in a 84-44 blowout of their bi-district playoff game Feb. 13.
3. City champs: Although playoffs still eluded them, Harker Heights began its Killeen ISD sweep with a 38-27 win over Killeen on Sept. 9.
4. Duran medals: After breezing through Day 1 of the UIL state wrestling meet, Michael Duran struggled to carry over that momentum in Day 2, dropping his first two matches before coming back to take fifth place in the 160-pound weight class for his first state medal Feb. 24.
5. Perfection: Knights senior Adarius Stanford rolled the first perfect game in the 11-year history of District 12-5A play Dec. 6 at Killeen Bowlerama, helping the Knights roll over the Copperas Cove Bulldawgs 15-2.
Top 5 players to watch for 2012-13
1. Brianna Freeman, girls basketball: The 6-foot-1 Lady Knights junior post shot a team-high 64 percent from the field en route to being named District 12-5A offensive MVP. Next year she'll be counted to shoulder even more of the load if the district champions hope to repeat.
2. Brandon Hill, track: In his first varsity season, Hill was practically untouchable in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, until he reached postseason. But after a pair of sixth-place finishes at the Class 5A state track meet, Hill is determined to medal
3. Naashon Hughes, football: The 6-foot-4, 215-pound hybrid defender will be counted on at multiple positions as senior after playing safety last year. Hughes, a Texas-commit, will likely see time at linebacker and on offense as the Knights try to get the most out of him.
4. JaQuan Jackson, girls basketball: Known for her flashy plays and no-look passes, the District 12-5A co-MVP averaged 12.2 points, 4.9 steals, 5.9 deflections as a junior and will pair with Freeman to form a potent 1-2 tandem for the Lady Knights next year.
5. Darius James, football: One of the city's most highly rated players, the 6-foot-5, 320-pounder is the nation's top-rated center and No. 19 overall prospect per ESPN.com. A Texas-commit like Hughes, pressure will be on James to help Heights back to the playoffs.