Mark Jan. 3 down — that’s the first rematch.

This time last year, the upstart Harker Heights Lady Knights seemed on their way, making great strides in both the regular season and the playoffs before advancing to the Region II-5A quarterfinals. The one roadblock, though, was Ellison.

“The kids smelt success, they know what it feels like and tastes like, and now they’re ready to eat it,” Heights fourth-year coach Shirretha Nelson said.

Last season, the Lady Knights left the court with a bitter taste in their mouths after the rival Lady Eagles knocked them off not once, not twice, but three times — the final coming in a game-for-the-annals, 57-48 overtime comeback to advance to the region semifinals.

“We’re obviously a little hungry this year, because they’re up three and we’d like to get a win in there,” Nelson said. “So we’re going to fight for it, and it’s going to be a battle.”

But while Heights (17-0, 1-0 12-5A) is ranked No. 8 in Class 5A and is one of the state’s few remaining undefeated teams left, the road through 12-5A clearly goes through Ellison (13-3, 1-0) where the defending district champions aren’t ready to give up their crown just yet.

“(The girls) feel like it will determine who will be district champs,” Ellison coach Sherry McKinnon said of the season series with Heights. “But at the same time, we have six other teams that we’re going to have to play and play hard, nobody’s going to give us anything.”

The lone team that could challenge the Killeen supremacy of Heights and Ellison atop the district standings is the Lady Eagles’ next opponent, A&M Consolidated.Consolidated (9-4, 2-0) is already off to a 2-0 12-5A start having blitzed both rival Bryan and Temple (13-4, 0-1).

Already a 13-win team, Temple is expected to be one of three vying for the fourth and final 12-5A playoff spot along with Copperas Cove (11-7, 1-0), which last year missed out on the postseason for the first time since 2006, and Shoemaker (7-10, 0-1), which returns a host of talent including high-scoring senior guard Kiara Rawls.


Shance Davis, Harker Heights — The senior may not top the leaderboard, but she does a little bit of everything for the area’s top team.Eboniey Jeter, Harker Heights — The senior is signed to North Texas and gives the athletic Lady Knights a physical, inside presence.Alayshia Hunter, Ellison — Last season’s 12-5A co-MVP is signed with Louisiana-Monroe and can dominate a game under the basket.Letia Howard, Copperas Cove — The junior guard is dangerous anywhere behind the 3-point line. She made five against Belton on Tuesday.Deja Pointer, Ellison — Like Howard from Cove, Pointer is very accurate from the outside and needs just a little space to hurt opponents.Kiara Rawls, Shoemaker — One of the area’s best scorers, the senior had 18 of her 29 points Tuesday in the fourth quarter against Heights.Blair Schaefer, A&M Consolidated — The sophomore may be the best player not named Tucker for the Lady Tigers and can score and rebound.Tierra Tucker, A&M Consolidated — An all-district first teamer last year, Tucker had a game-high 19 points against Temple on Tuesday.

Harker Heights vs. Ellison (Jan. 3 at Ellison; Jan. 27 at Heights) — Ellison’s historic 2010-11 season included holding off Heights in the region quarterfinals, but the Lady Knights look to be this year’s favorite.Shoemaker vs. Temple (Jan. 6 at Shoemaker; Jan. 31 at Temple) — Shoemaker missed the playoffs but made a late push last season. Getting into the postseason will mean knocking off a top team like the Tem-Cats.Shoemaker vs. Copperas Cove (Jan. 10 at Cove; Feb. 3 at Shoemaker) — The Lady Bulldawgs have a new coach and are up and down. Their history includes multiple playoff trips, but Shoemaker could be standing in the way.Ellison vs. A&M Consolidated (Friday at Ellison; Jan. 20 at College Station) — Heights received much of the buzz going in the season, but these two have been the district’s top teams the last few seasons.

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