BANGS — The Bangs Lady Dragons may be entering their Region I-2A bi-district playoff game against Kermit as the No. 3 seed from District 6-2A, but head coach Niki Holt’s squad could have contended for a championship in several other district across the state.
The Lady Dragons (16-14, 10-4) — who face Kermit at 6:30 Monday in Sterling City — just happened to play four games combined against No. 7 Wall and No. 8 Jim Ned.
“It’s definitely not a surprise,” Holt said of the Lady Dragons’ third-place positioning. “I knew from the get go we’d be fighting for third or fourth place. Our goal that we set was to finish no worse than third and the girls worked their tails off to get to this point.
“It’s never fun having two teams like Wall and Jim Ned in your district, who are both so good in different ways. In the long run it’s going to help us to see two very different styles of play. We took some hard losses, but we’ve come away from those losses having learned a lot about ourselves and how to play against those type of teams.”
Bangs’ overall record is also a bit deceiving as the Lady Dragons began the year without a few members of the district championship volleyball team.
“I feel like our overall team chemistry has improved,” Holt said. “We started out without a lot of players who were having success in other sports, and we don’t ever want them not to have that success, but it takes a little bit of time to get used to each other, so we started off a couple of weeks behind. Some teams might have overlooked us, but we got it figured out heading into district and kept it going.”
The Lady Dragons have been sparked by Kady Kyle and Kinsie Ward, who average 11 points per game, but several other players — such as Rachael Willard, Raelee Francois, Charly Lipsey, Liz Pettit and Haley Pitts — have stepped up with major contributions at various points.
“Kinsie and Kady have been pretty consistent, but we’ve had different games where girls have stepped up,” Holt said. “Any given day we have girls who are more than capable of scoring eight or nine points, or more.”
Kermit will provide a test the Lady Dragons’ offense has had little experience with — man-to-man defense.
“I know they run a man-to-man defense and that’s not something we see a lot in our district,” Holt said. “Teams in our district ran a lot of zone, but I feel like we’re ready for it. I know they’ll be a tough team, but we’re very excited to get our playoff feet wet.”
If the Lady Dragons prevail Monday, the challenges only become greater.
“We’ve got a pretty tough road but we’re going to take it one game at a time,” Holt said. “If we get past Kermit Monday we’re looking at possibly Bowie, and then after that would be either Wall or Jim Ned again. It’s a tough challenge, we’re in a tough region, but I’ve got a group that I feel can go out there and compete.”