Written by SportsDayDFW.com
Girls basketball: Ryan, Denton ready for 4-4A play
Last year, Ryan and The Colony turned district play into a two-horse race.
This time around, after a key injury and some surprising nondistrict results, the race for the playoffs seems to be wide open - and that could mean big things for teams such as Denton looking to bust into the postseason.
Although the Lady Raiders and the Lady Cougars seemed to be the favorites in District 4-4A play entering this season, the two 2009 powers have been plagued by problems early on, and both enter district play tonight with losing records.
That could favor the Lady Broncos who, behind the solid play of Jamecia Brown and Jasmine Taylor, have gotten off to a solid start through nondistrict play.
Denton (7-6) hasn't been to the playoffs since the 2006-07 season, when it finished atop District 5-4A with an 11-1 record but fell to Stephenville in the first round.
This year, though, it looks primed to make a postseason run after a solid start that included a stretch of four straight wins through the end of November. The Lady Broncos drubbed Dallas A. Maceo Smith 61-28 on Friday, then defeated Ardmore (Okla.) 55-44 on Monday night in their final tuneup before 4-4A play begins.
Denton might be the hottest team in town - a stark change from last year.
Ryan (6-9) is trying to recapture some of its mojo after losing one of its most crucial players before the season began.
One of the predicted favorites in 4-4A in the offseason, the Lady Raiders have been forced to adapt after the injury of star guard and SMU commit De'Amber Wilhite, who suffered a knee injury that could leave her sidelined for her entire senior season.
Wilhite's absence has left sophomore Teana Ogden with the responsibility of shouldering most of the load for Ryan this year and, so far, she's done admirably. Her double-digit scoring average and ability to make plays on the floor are part of the reason the Lady Raiders are still hovering close to the .500 mark.
Still, with additional injuries to Halee Clark, Rasheeba Walker and Jasmine Vasquez hindering Ryan at various points during the year, it seems like an uphill battle.
Both the Lady Raiders and the Lady Broncos will have plenty to contend with as district play gears up. Wichita Falls (10-3) seems as strong as ever after qualifying for the playoffs three years in a row, while Wichita Falls Rider (12-3) is looking to enter the postseason picture after a fast start.
The Colony (6-7), meanwhile, remains dangerous despite its slow start. The Lady Cougars return six seniors from last year's loaded squad and could make waves despite its recent struggles.
Both Little Elm (4-6) and Lake Dallas (3-11) will also try to play themselves into the top four despite rocky starts.
Denton has a bye to open 4-4A play and won't tip off its district season until Friday when it travels to face Wichita Falls at 7:30 p.m. Ryan face Lake Dallas at home today at 7:30 p.m.
MARSHALL MOORE can be reached at 940-566-6869. His e-mail address is email@example.com .