The playoffs are on the horizon.
After months of working to earn a postseason berth, 10 area teams emerged from district competition with a chance to capture a state championship.
Four schools — Lampasas, Gatesville, Salado and Belton — qualified both teams, while Harker Heights’ boys are returning for their 12th appearance and Ellison’s girls snapped a sustained drought.
The Lady Eagles will open their first playoff run since 2005 on Friday when they travel to Waxahachie for a 5:30 p.m. start against No. 15 Rockwall-Heath. The District 11-6A co-champion Lady Hawks are 15-2-3 overall.
The contest will be followed by Rockwall-Heath’s boys team playing Belton at 7:30 p.m.
The Tigers went undefeated en route to the District 12-6A title and take a 20-0-2 record into the playoffs, where they will look to avenge a first-round exit last season.
On Thursday, the Knights (10-7-6) begin their postseason run against Longview. The match is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. at Ennis.
After winning their first district championship in seven years, the Lobos (16-4-3) will rely on 14 seniors as they attempt spoil Harker Heights’ return to the playoffs following last season’s absence.
The Lady Tigers and Badgers also have their postseason openers on Thursday.
Belton easily won the district title and will play its bi-district contest at home, hosting Mesquite Horn at 6:30 p.m., while the Badgers, who finished as the third seed in District 27-4A, will face Canyon Lake at 7:30 p.m. at Burnet.
The Lady Badgers advance to the playoffs for the seventh time in eight years after missing out last season, beginning their run Friday at Marble Falls, where they will play No. 4 Boerne.
In 2015, the Lady Greyhounds ended Lampasas’ season in the area round on their way to the state semifinals.
Both Gatesville teams will also play Friday after securing their berths during last week’s regular-season finales against Robinson.
Making their fifth consecutive playoff appearance, the girls face Madisonville at 4 p.m., and the boys, who reached the postseason for a seventh consecutive year, play perennial power Palestine at 8 p.m. Both matches will be at Mexia.
Salado travels to Dripping Springs on Thursday as it embarks toward a potential state title.
The Lady Eagles open a doubleheader at 5:30 p.m. against Bandera before the Eagles follow against Fredericksburg at 7:30 p.m.
AREA PLAYOFF MATCHUPS
- 5:30 p.m. — Salado girls vs. Bandera, at Dripping Springs
- 6 p.m. — Harker Heights boys vs. Longview, at Ennis
- 6:30 p.m. — Mesquite Horn girls at Belton
- 7:30 p.m. — Lampasas boys vs. Canyon Lake, at Burnet
- 7:30 p.m. — Salado boys vs. Fredericksburg, at Dripping Springs
- 4 p.m. — Gatesville girls vs. Madisonville, at Mexia
- 5:30 p.m. — Ellison girls vs. Rockwall-Heath, at Waxahachie
- 7 p.m. — Lampasas girls vs. Boerne, at Marble Falls
- 7:30 p.m. — Belton boys vs. Rockwall-Heath, at Waxahachie
- 8 p.m. — Gatesville boys vs. Palestine, at Mexia