It’s difficult to take much satisfaction about being correct on six of the eight preseason girls’ basketball predictions when the two misses involve teams we cover on a full-time basis.
No it’s not.
After picking the first four finishers from District 9-3A in the correct order, I misjudged badly on the Van Alstyne Lady Panthers and Lady Bulldogs from Howe.
I won’t make excuses — just give you a reasonable explanation. (No, that doesn’t work here at home either.) But first, the good news.
On Dec. 9 I had the District 9-3A race going; Pottsboro, Whitesboro, Ponder and Gunter. And that’s exactly how they finished. OK, it took a coin flip to separate Whitesboro and Ponder, but the Lady Bearcats won that so I’m calling it a sweep.
In District 10-3A I was correct on the first two as Whitewright and Leonard took the top spots and that’s how I called it.
I got the fourth-place pick correct as well, surmising that the Lone Oak Lady Buffs would grab the final playoff spot and they did.
My crystal ball, tarot cards and dart throw all forecast Howe to miss the post season for the first time in the last six seasons. The explanation being that you can’t easily replace a four-time league MVP (Riley Harvey) and the outside shooting skills of Alissa Smith and Darci Foster. I felt the young players slotted into varsity roles, Ally Harvey and Jenna Honore, would need a year of experience before reaching a high potential. (And boy did I hear it from those two young ladies.)
What I missed seeing in the early games was the steady improvement of the team on the defensive end. Year-end stats tell the story, when Howe held a team to 40 points or less, they always won. Opponents over the last 10 games of the season averaged 35, and for the full season, just 36.5 points-per-game.
You can be down a little on the offensive side when you are getting stops from your defense, and that’s the reason the Lady Bulldogs reached the postseason.
What did I miss seeing about the Lady Panthers? Well, the most obvious would be the lack of experience.
Howe honored five senior girls at its senior night ceremony. In Van Alstyne four nights later, it was Madison Reno and Carly Ochoa, and Ochoa was a rookie in Coach Russell Bryant’s system.
Lack of experience shows up first on the defensive end. You can’t risk pressing when the players are not really comfortable in their roles on the help side. I think that lack of experience, and how it limits your defensive options, was the main difference between Van Alstyne and Howe.
Well, that’s my explanation and you read it here first.
OK, I guess we better get this done.
In the boys basketball race I missed so badly on my picks, I may be banned from the prognosticators union.
The picks were: Commerce, Whitewright then either Lone Oak or Van Alstyne.
Looks like Van Alstyne and Commerce will share the title since both took care of business in their final league games on Feb. 14.
Whitewright will finish fourth in the district chase and Lone Oak’s basketball team will start baseball practice as their season is done.
As for this writer, time to set the table and eat some crow.