It has been a long wait for Denton girls basketball coach Dennis Krishka.
The longtime coach is now in his sixth season at Denton and has gone five years without a trip to the postseason since winning a district championship in his debut campaign.
After starting the season with an 11-0 record, it appeared this would be the season for Krishka to end his playoff drought.
Now, it all comes down to one game.
The Lady Broncos (20-12, 5-7 District 4-4A) will face Little Elm at 6 p.m. Friday night at The Colony in a loser-go-home play-in game for the fourth and final playoff spot in the district.
"It's frustrating," Krishka said. "We've won 20 games this year and thought we've turned this thing around, and if you look at us not getting into the playoffs, it's going to be a disappointing season."
But the Lady Broncos can still salvage it with a win over Little Elm in the teams' third meeting of the season. Denton took the first game with a 51-46 win and then lost to the Lady Lobos 40-38 a couple of weeks ago.
"They're a team that's gotten better as the season has gone along," Krishka said of Little Elm. "They really struggled early in the year and had a lot of losses early on. They've really improved. They're gonna battle you until the end. They play hard all the time."
Little Elm is led by guard Chelsea Savage and post T'Keeyah Rush, but has gotten a recent surge from guard Lizzie Salerno, who scored 16 points in the victory over the Lady Broncos.
"They have a balanced attack," Krishka said. "Those three are going to be the primary focus for us. They've been the girls that have been carrying them offensively and we have to do the job defensively on them."
That last loss to Little Elm was a heartbreaker for Denton and one of many squandered opportunities the Lady Broncos have had this season to lock up a playoff spot.
Besides its last loss to Little Elm, Denton lost one-point games to both district champion Ryan and The Colony.
"That takes you from 5-7 to 8-4, and it's a whole different deal," Krishka said. "Even just getting one of those would've put us in the playoffs."
Denton will have to rely on its two senior leaders- point guard Jasmine Taylor and post Jamecia Brown - to break through and make the postseason.
Taylor is averaging 13.8 points and 6.3 rebounds per game, while Brown is averaging 13.4 points and 7.6 rebounds.
Those two will have to lead the charge as the Lady Broncos must cure some recent shooting woes that have seen them go only 26 for 110 from the field in the past two games - losses to The Colony and Wichita Falls Rider.
"Our biggest problem toward the end of this season is our inability to score," Krishka said. "We're just not shooting the basketball very well. It's really been a problem for us the last couple of games."
Ultimately, Krishka hopes, his team will be able to get hot from the field again and top Little Elm, which would get them over the proverbial playoff hump and allow them to join the other two Denton ISD teams in the playoffs.
"Ryan is in the playoffs; Guyer is in the [Class 5A] playoffs," Krishka said. "We don't want to be the only ones sitting at home again. We're preparing with the idea that we'll come out and get the job done Friday night and get ourselves in there."
Colson's playoff debut
Guyer girls basketball coach Harold Colson has made the playoffs before as a coach.
During his time as an assistant for the boys teams at Euless Trinity and Arlington, he was able to earn trips to the postseason.
But since becoming a head coach on the girls' side, he's been shut out - until now.
In his second year at Guyer, Colson guided the Lady Wildcats (25-8, 10-4 District 7-5A) to a third-place finish in a tough district. Guyer faces Flower Mound Marcus (22-12, 11-3) in his head-coaching playoff debut at 6 p.m. Monday at Trophy Club Byron Nelson.
"It is a very good and satisfying feeling to be able to see a lot of your hard work pay off," Colson said. "It's definitely a good feeling to be going. The way the season went with our record and how hard the kids and coaching staff have been working has been great. Everything's fallen together for us this year."
The Lady Wildcats are led by forward Jasmine Leday, a senior leader who actually quit the team midway through her junior season but found her way back prior to this season.
Leday is averaging 15.1 points, 10.0 rebounds and 3.8 steals per game after scoring 48 points in the last two games of the regular season.
Leday and her teammates will have to match up with a Lady Marauders squad that runs a rotation with as many as four guards on the floor at one time.
Colson said the teams match up well.
"We'll definitely have to be prepared for that," Colson said of the quicker lineup. "On paper, it looks like a really good matchup. They don't have a real monster on the inside that would hurt us."
Ryan to play Palo Duro
Tuesday's game against Little Elm was more of a victory lap than a dogged sprint for the Ryan Lady Raiders. Ryan earned an outright district title for the second straight season by defeating Little Elm 55-49.
It was just another way Ryan has displayed its dominance in district play over the last two years, losing only one game during that stretch. Now, Ryan (21-9) looks to build upon its regular-season success when it squares off against Amarillo Palo Duro in the opening round of the Class 4A playoffs.
A site and time have yet to be determined, Lady Raiders head coach Monesha Allen said Wednesday.
Last season, Ryan reached the region quarterfinals before losing to Plainview 62-40. On Tuesday, Allen said the Lady Raiders have the potential to advance deep in the state tournament if it wins the challenging matchup against Palo Duro.
Ryan is coming off a lackluster performance against Little Elm in the final game of the regular season. Allen said she hopes to get her team refocused for the postseason.
"Hopefully, I'll be able to rally the troops in and get back to the task at hand," Allen said.
Sanger primed for run
With its 47-34 win over District 9-3A rival Argyle on Tuesday night, the Sanger girls locked up its second straight district championship and a first-round bye in the upcoming playoffs.
And now the Lady Indians (22-12) will await the winner of Lovejoy and Carrollton Ranchview to decide their first playoff opponent, which would come in the area round of the playoffs late next week.
Whoever the Lady Indians draw will have a lot to contend with in Sanger's size inside, most notably post Julieh Clark. The senior stands 6-foot-3 and averages 12.5 points and 7.5 boards per game.
"You've got a 6-3 girl in Class 3A, I mean [most teams] don't have anyone near that tall," Sanger head coach Jack Armstrong said. "It definitely gives them some problems, defensively and offensively."
With the regular season now in the books, not one aspect of the District 9-2A race has been decided.
Now, Ponder will face Nocona in a play-in game for the final, third-place spot out of the district when they meet at 6 p.m. Friday at Bridgeport.
After the Ponder-Nocona game, Krum will take on Alvord for the top seed and the first-round bye as the teams have each clinched a share of the 9-2A title. Krum is ranked No. 2 in the Texas Girls Coaches Association Class 2A poll, while Alvord is ranked No. 4.
Staff writer Ben Baby contributed to this report.
ADAM BOEDEKER can be reached at 940-566-6872. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .