With the exception of the Burleson Lady Elks, who have been in league play since late December, Friday marks the date for the beginning of district play for the girls’ basketball teams in Johnson County.

Of the nine teams in the county, four are housed in District 11-2A, perhaps the most competitive conference in the area.

Rio Vista, the defending district champs, Keene, Grandview and Godley join with Maypearl and Itasca to comprise the district.

Last year, the Lady Eagles were 10-0 on the season, while Itasca went 0-10. The other five teams were 5-5 in league play, forcing a four-team tournament to decide the final two playoff spots.

Godley and Grandview came away second and third from the two-day tournament, earning a playoff spot in the process.

The 2006 district schedule could prove to be just as competitive, except for the league title this year.

The Lady Eagles, who are 7-13 overall, lost over 90 percent of its scoring from a year ago. However, Rio Vista, who hosts Itasca at 7:30 p.m. on Friday has been playing a brutal non-district schedule, which should prepare it to defend the championship.

Rio Vista has one returning starter in sophomore point guard Katie Martin, while Rachel Surratt, Kristi Cashion and Amanda Johnson have been providing the scoring punch for the Lady Eagles.

But Maypearl, Keene, Grandview and Godley will all be battling for the top spot and the three playoffs berths.

Maypearl (9-10) is hosting Keene (11-9) on Friday in an early 4 p.m. matchup, while Godley (12-9) is on the road at Grandview (11-8) for a 7:30 p.m. start.

The Lady Panthers have a solid nucleus of players led by Samantha Almond, Jessica Ikard and Jordan Briggs, while Keene, which has also played a difficult non-district schedule, features a team with no seniors, led by Jessica Medina, Lace Clark and Nanika Brochu.

Godley and Grandview is probably the most intriguing of the district games.

The Lady Cats feature a young team, led by point guard Narisa Trammell. Trammell is a senior, but the core of the team is very young, with Khristi Shurbet, Maeci McPherson, Tiffanny Flores, Chelsea Brooks, Michelle Singleton and Mackenzie McLellan giving Godley a balanced scoring attack.

Grandview, on the other hand, is a veteran club. Senior center Shataura Johnson has had a solid season thus far, along with junior and three-year starter Kayla Emmons. Meagan Cooksey, Maggie Bivins, Jamie Fuller and Kelly Jo Eblen are also key performers for the Lady Zebras.

In other Friday games involving Johnson County girls’ teams, the Venus Lady Dawgs open District 8-3A play at Whitney, the Alvarado Lady Indians begin District 15-4A action on the road at Mansfield Timberview and Burleson is on the road at Boswell in a District 4-5A showdown.

Daniel Green can be reached at 817-645-2441, ext. 2334, or sports@trcle.com

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