By Matthew Girard
Killeen Daily Herald
The District 13-5A boy's playoff race came down to the final night, but now that the smoke has cleared, the league's four postseason-bound teams are gearing up for the opportunity to be named state champion.
District champion A&M Consolidated (24-8, 10-2), Bryan (20-8, 9-3), Harker Heights (18-13, 8-4) and Ellison (17-13, 7-5) all survived and advanced to the UIL state playoffs next week.
In the season finale Tuesday, two of the three games had playoff implications as the Eagles and Knights tried to hang on to their respective playoff spots, while the Shoemaker Grey Wolves (14-17, 6-6) attempted to cause a three-way tie for the No. 3 and 4 seeds from the district.
Harker Heights eliminated Shoemaker from contention with a 59-50 win. The Knights then got the No. 3 seed as Ellison lost to district runner-up Bryan in overtime.
MOMENTUM, WHO'S GOT IT?
The Harker Heights girl's team probably has the most, as the Lady Knights picked up their first playoff win in their first playoff appearance with a 49-43 victory against Georgetown on Monday at Temple College.
"The girls are excited," Lady Knights coach Lisa Hess said. "They're still excited from the game against Georgetown. We're just taking it one game at a time."
The Lady Knights will face The Woodlands College Park at 6 p.m. Friday at A&M Consolidated High School in College Station for the area championship.
"We're really looking forward to playing them in area," Hess said. "I told (the team) we have to play as a team. I hope that we all peak during the playoffs, we all have to play good and everyone needs to step up."
The Harker Heights girls' counterparts, the Knights, are riding a two-game win streak heading into the playoffs.
Knights coach Celneque Bobbitt said he was proud of his team's resiliency during the final weeks of the regular season.
"When you thought you needed to throw the towel in and get ready to start working on next year, they gave you something," Bobbitt said after Harker Heights' win against Shoemaker. "It was like the light turned on a little bit."
Despite Harker Heights being the only team with two wins this week, A&M is the hottest team heading into bi-district. The Tigers have won five in a row.
On the other end, Ellison will try and rebound from a 1-3 record in its final four games.
Ellison coach David Manley said that although the Eagles came up short at Bryan, he feels his team has some momentum.
"I thought (the Eagles) played extremely well at Bryan in the last game," Manley said. "I feel like we have some momentum because we played very well. We didn't win, but sometimes in the this league you can play well and get beat.
"It's hard to maintain momentum in this league because everybody is about the same."
Although the Eagles have been on the down side, Ellison's appearance in the this year's playoffs marks the 13th-consecutive season the Eagles have advanced to the post-season under Manley.
"We've always talked about our tradition that our previous teams have built upon," Manley said. "Our kids were aware of that and every group it becomes their goal to not be the first team that doesn't make it. We are also excited because moving up from 4A to 5A is a difficult jump. There are great teams in 4A and 5A, but in 5A it seems like teams are more evenly matched and there is a fine line between winning and losing. To make it in at the highest level is exciting and it's a tribute to our kids."
PLAYERS OF THE WEEK
Boys: Jeremiah Ransaw, Shoemaker – Only a junior, Ransaw spoke softly and carried a big stick leading the Grey Wolves to the brink of a playoff berth by averaging 18.5 points per game in Shoemaker's final two games.
Girls: Nyesha Adams, Harker Heights – The star senior continued to add to her legacy by leading the Lady Knights to their first playoff win in school history with 20 points and several clutch free-throws to seal the win against Georgetown.
No. 1-seed A&M Consolidated will take on No. 4-seed Round Rock Stony Point (8-6 in District 14-5A) at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Robinson High School in Waco.
No. 2-seed Bryan faces off with No. 3-seed McNeil (8-6, 14-5A) at 7:45 p.m. Wednesday at Mary Hardin-Baylor in Belton.
No. 3-seed Harker Heights will play against No. 2-seed Cedar Park (10-4, 14-5A) at xxxxxxxxx.
No. 4-seed Ellison will try and dethrone No. 1-seed Pflugerville (12-2 14-5A) at 6:15 p.m. Wednesday at Mary Hardin-Baylor.
Contact Matthew Girard at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7569