COPPERAS COVE — The season opener is almost here, and so is the playoff race.

After 10 days of practice, girls basketball teams across the state were allowed to scrimmage for the first time over the weekend, including Copperas Cove.

The Lady Bulldawgs, who scrimmaged Austin Bowie on Saturday, travel to play Round Rock McNeil today before opening the season at Leander on Friday.

Less than a month later, Copperas Cove plays it first District 12-6A contest, and Lady Bulldawgs head coach Eldridge McAdams admits the small window creates challenges.

“You have to really get the kinks out quick,” he said. “One good thing about it is that it is an obstacle all nine teams have to face.

“We just have to be ready to work.”

The University Interscholastic League created a juggernaut district during realignment by adding Waco and Temple into a district with Copperas Cove, Killeen, Shoemaker, Ellison, Harker Heights, Belton and Waco Midway. The change also created expanded district schedules for the team, shortening its time for preparation.

The Lady Bulldawgs will play three games and compete in two tournaments, hosting the annual Bush’s Classic and traveling to the Marble Falls tournament, before playing Belton on Nov. 27 to begin district.

Last season, Copperas Cove opened district play Dec. 8, allowing for 15 games leading up to the date.

It might not sound like a significant change, but McAdams disagrees.

“There are definitely things we need to work on,” he said, “and we have to be better in those areas before district play. We just have to improve before we get there, and we don’t have time with the way this district is now.

“It feels like we are already about to start district games.”

Although the new schedule can be burdensome to coaches and players, the Lady Bulldawgs intend to overcome the challenge.

Copperas Cove returned to the playoffs last season for the first time since 2015, falling to No. 14 DeSoto in the bi-district round, and the Lady Bulldawgs bring back several key players from that squad.

Despite losing last season’s all-district defensive player of the year Erica Powell and guards Mariyah Reynolds and Yaqar Elmore, Copperas Cove returns senior point guard Madison Griffon, junior post Kaysha McCloud, junior guard Madisen Honea, senior forward Jayda Carter and junior forward Leah Powell.

McAdams knows the team’s success does not depend on any single player, though.

“We have to play team ball,” he said. “I don’t want anyone standing around watching one player. We all have to be a part of this.

“It’s going to take all of us to make this thing go.”

With district play already looming and only four of the nine teams advancing to the playoffs, the competition and the preparation will be difficult.

But McAdams believes it will create a sensational postseason race.

“It’s going to be an exciting year in Central Texas,” he said, “because this is going to be a really tough district.

“So, hopefully whoever represents us in the playoffs gets to go for a couple rounds.”

LADY DAWGS KEY DATES

  • TODAY — Final scrimmage, at Round Rock McNeil
  • FRIDAY  — Season opener at Leander
  • NOV. 8-10 — Home opener in Bush’s Classic
  • NOV. 27 — 12-6A opener vs. Belton

Contact Clay Whittington at clayw@kdhnews.com

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