By MIKE IBANEZ
Both Lewisville High School varsity basketball teams felt the immediacy of playoff elimination last week, but it didn’t take long before wounds were healed and the shine of successful seasons celebrated.
The LHS girls’ team was eliminated in the area round by DeSoto at North Crowley Feb. 17. Three days later, Allen defeated the boys’ team in a bi-district game at The Colony.
The Lady Farmers were prominent when the District 5-6A all-district team was announced days after its 43-39 loss to DeSoto. Coach Sally Allsbrook was named coach of the year, Amani Alston was selected defensive player of the year, Nala Hemingway and McKenzie Bowie were recognized on the first team, and Sharmaine Harper and Shekinah Green earned spots on the second team.
A slew of all-district honors was unlikely early in the district season when LHS limped out to a 2-3 record. But the Lady Farmers won eight of their last nine regular season contests, as well as their bi-district game against Allen.
“We were a very slow moving train that really gained momentum at the right time,” second-year coach Allsbrook said of the season. “Our foundation of stressing defense first created our offensive opportunities and the girls bought in. It wasn’t always pretty.”
Making the playoffs is one thing, but advancing is quite another, and the returning Lady Farmers should benefit from their playoff experience — particularly the intensity they faced against DeSoto. The Lady Eagles pressed from start to finish, leading to 17 LHS turnovers.
After pulling even in the fourth quarter with point guard Hemingway on the bench in foul trouble, DeSoto pulled away for good on the strength of two three-pointers wrapped around a missed layup by Green. It was a short sequence in the game, but a momentum killer.
“We fought hard to get back in the game, made the necessary adjustments, and played hard, but we just couldn’t finish,” Allsbrook said.
“Their press got to us early on and put us in a hole. They were very physical.”
Anessa Boyd led all LHS scorers with 11 points. Bowie and Green each had nine points and Alston added five. Chania Wright scored 15 to lead DeSoto, which went on to lose to nationally-ranked Duncanville in the regional quarterfinals.
With most bi–district action taking place on Tuesday, the LHS boys were among the first teams in the area to be eliminated when they fell to Allen 63-36. The game was over far before the final buzzer as the Eagles held a 34-21 halftime lead which increased to 49-25 after three quarters.
Like DeSoto’s girls team, Allen beat LHS on the strength of its pressure defense, which forced 27 turnovers. The Eagles are known for a deep bench and a liberal substitution rotation. They had 11 different players score against the Farmers.
“We’ve never played a team that deep that substitutes in waves like that, which is hard enough,” boys coach Gary Collier said. “Then on top of that, we didn’t take care of the ball so that’s a lethal combination.”
In addition to shoddy ball control, early foul trouble for starters Patrick Bethea, Jydonn Griffith, and Juwuan Lane, shaky free throw shooting and a handful of layup misses also plagued the Farmers.
Bethea managed to score 11 points to lead LHS. Lane and point guard Marcus Jefferson each had seven.
Despite the early exit, Collier was pleased with the Farmers’ late season surge that led to a third–place district finish.
“It’s always good to be playing in late February,” Collier said. “We gained some ground and finished strong this year. The guys worked hard. We were a relatively small team that competed very well.”
The boys all-district team will be released when 5-6A fourth-place finisher Euless Trinity finishes its season. The Trojans are the lone remaining district team in the playoff bracket.