Written by Matt Wixon
Wixon: Top boys, girls Dallas-area basketball teams flourish in District 7-5A
Fans can argue about who the best basketball players are in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. They can, and will, debate where teams should be in the rankings. But when it comes to which district is toughest, the discussion should be short.
Boys or girls, it doesn’t matter. District 7-5A, led by the top-ranked DeSoto boys and Duncanville girls, is the toughest.
“I don’t see any cushion or wiggle room,” Duncanville girls coach Cathy Self-Morgan said of the district. “The girls know they have to bring their ‘A’ game. They have to bring the work every night.”
“This is probably the toughest district I’ve ever coached in from top to bottom,” said DeSoto boys coach Chris Dyer. “Any coach who gets through this should get a raise.”
Dyer chuckled with his last comment, but he’s not kidding about the strength of District 7-5A. It was strong in football, led by state semifinalist DeSoto and finalist Cedar Hill, but the basketball lineup is probably the best in Texas.
The top three in this week’s 5A area boys rankings are DeSoto (19-1), South Grand Prairie (20-2) and Mansfield Timberview (18-1). But at least two more teams look playoff-worthy: Duncanville, which handed DeSoto its only loss this season, and Cedar Hill, which beat Duncanville two weeks ago.
That’s five teams battling for four playoff spots.
“It puts the pressure on every game,” said South Grand Prairie coach Brandon Bennett, whose team is No. 2 in the state rankings. “If you don’t come out ready to play, you’re going to get beat and then could end up missing the playoffs. We don’t want to be that team.”
The girls lineup isn’t quite as deep, but it might be even stronger at the top. Defending state champion Duncanville (25-0), which has won 53 straight games, leads a group of four teams in the top five of the area 5A rankings. Cedar Hill (19-6) is No. 3, followed by Timberview (21-3) and DeSoto (21-4).
“If we get through district, we’ve experienced everything,” Self-Morgan said. “We’re ready for everything in the playoffs.”
You’ve got to be ready when you’re playing in the basketball hotbed of southwestern Dallas county, which includes Duncanville, DeSoto and Cedar Hill. Since 1988, 20 teams from those schools have played for state titles, and 11 have won championships. The 2009 boys 5A title game matched DeSoto and Cedar Hill in what fans called the “Battle of Belt Line.”
Duncanville, Cedar Hill and DeSoto, all within 10 miles of each other, form a rich basketball triangle. South Grand Prairie and Timberview add to the 7-5A mix, which includes big-time recruits such as DeSoto guard Matt Jones (Duke signee), South Grand Prairie guard Ben Emelogu (Virginia Tech) and the Cedar Hill girls’ post tandem of Jada Terry (Texas A&M) and LaBrittney Jones (Arizona).
Just about every district game will be intense — and a great show.
“The fans should relish this,” Dyer said. “Shoot, they can see some of the best basketball in the country just watching this district.”
Follow Matt Wixon on Twitter @mattwixon.