Two words are on everybody’s mind across the state of Texas as February comes to a close: State Tournament. Or is it: San Antonio? This time of year, those two words mean the same thing to a lot of people. The best women’s teams across the state will book hotel rooms and dream of floating down San Antonio’s Riverwalk with medals around their necks and a state championship trophy in their hands this weekend. The men will sort out over the course of the next five days which teams get to compete in the regional championships. Let’s recap some playoff games and preview the best Friday night matchups across the metroplex.
Coppell eliminates South Grand Prairie
Coppell finally broke through to the regional tournament after eliminating South Grand Prairie 43-39 in the regional quarterfinals on Tuesday night. The path to San Antonio is simple. First the Cowgirls have to defeat Southlake Carroll in the regional semifinal. Then, the winner of that matchup will get the winner of Keller and Little Elm with a business trip to the Alamo on the line.
If Coppell was going to advance this far in the playoffs, it was going to be on the back of Jules LaMendola. If you read the Cooldown regularly, you’re probably pretty familiar with LaMendola. Her string of big performances in high stakes games has been mentioned a few times over the last few weeks, and that’s not to mention the MVP Bobblehead she was awarded on the show. Well, LaMendola came through with another big performance to power Coppell to the regional semifinal.
LaMendola finished with 20 points to lead Coppell in scoring. She got plenty of help throughout the game from Ella Spiller, who finished with 12 points. Waverly Hassman and Allyssa Potter each scored five points in the win. Taliyah Parker paced South Grand Prairie with 17 points. Taylor Barnes contributed eight points and Anyla Herbert scored four points. South Grand Prairie has missed senior Adhel Tac for the last several months with an injury.
Southlake Carroll eliminates North Crowley
Southlake Carroll took down North Crowley 55-51 in a thriller to advance and face the aforementioned Coppell Cowgirls in what should be a competitive regional semifinal. Like Coppell, Southlake Carroll depends on a star player who can depend on a number of teammates to help with scoring, playmaking and defending. Camryn Tade can rack up points at will and did so to power Southlake Carroll to the regional semifinal.
Tade finished with a game-high 26 points in the Lady Dragons’ win over North Crowley. Milania Jordan added 11 points while Gianna Jordan and Taryn Barnes each scored seven points. Kendal Robinson led the way for North Crowley with 21 points while Jade Nelson and Brandy Jones each contributed nine points. North Crowley faced a 25-12 halftime deficit before its comeback bid fell just short in the fourth quarter.
Tade still has unfinished business before graduating and heading off to college, but the Lady Dragons should be in good hands with the Jordan sisters, returning next season. Milania is a sophomore and Gianna is a freshman, but both have made a big impact for Southlake Carroll so far this season. Tade will need their help against Coppell on Friday night.
Hebron eliminates Allen
Hebron bounced Allen from the playoffs with a 51-48 win in the bi-district round on Tuesday night. The Hawks lost a seeding game to Lewisville last Friday, hoping to win and avoid having to face the District 5-6A champion Allen Eagles. In the end, it didn’t matter as Hebron is through to the area round. Allen jumped out to an early lead but Hebron, riding a three-game losing streak, countered with two big quarters and hung on in the final frame for the three-point win.
Alex Cotton led Hebron with 13 points and was the only Hawk to finish in double-figures. Balanced scoring helped supplement that, as Cam Mennsfield scored nine points and Jalen Haynes, Isaiah Williams and Jaden Clemons all finished with six points. It was free throws from Mennsfield and Clemons that sealed the win for Hebron late in the game. Kaiden Myers paced Allen with 17 points and Femi Olaniyan scored 10 points. The Eagles got seven points from Zachary Spitzer and four points from Trent Pane.
Hebron will face Richardson in the area round on Friday night at 7:00 at Prosper Rock Hill High School. Richardson eliminated Arlington Sam Houston 50-46 in the bi-district round.
DeSoto eliminates Pflugerville Weiss
DeSoto advanced to the area round by way of a 56-50 win over Pflugerville Weiss on Tuesday night. The Eagles probably felt good about their chances to win at halftime, leading Pflugerville Weiss 27-20 and holding the Wolves to just six points in the second quarter. Then DeSoto’s offense stalled out of the halftime break as the Eagles scored just six points in the third quarter. To compound the issue, the DeSoto defense gave up 15 points in both the third and fourth quarters. It took a monster 23-point performance from the DeSoto offense in the fourth quarter for the No. 9 team in 6A to advance to the area round.
Russell Foreman led the way for DeSoto with 14 points on the night. He got help from Arrington Cooper, who finished with 10 points, and Jaxon Davis, who finished with nine points. DeShawn Crawford and Nakia Smith each contributed eight points for the Eagles. DeSoto will face Rockwall Heath in the area round at 7:00 on Friday night at Forney High School. Rockwall Heath eliminated Rowlett 83-53 in the bi-district round.
Player of the Week
My Player of the Week is Coppell’s Jules LaMendola! Coppell is headed to the regional semifinal for the first time since 1990. Coppell toppled the team it lost to in the regional quarterfinal last year, South Grand Prairie, behind 20 points from LaMendola! There isn’t much to say that wasn’t said in the recap of Coppell’s win above, but LaMendola and Ella Spiller deserve a lot of credit for taking the Cowgirls to a place they haven’t been in more than 30 years.