Through the first 19 games of the season, Ryan coach Monesha Allen has seen one instance when the Lady Raiders played well as a unit.
On Dec. 4, without senior point guard Teana Ogden, Ryan toppled Frisco Heritage in a 16-point decision. According to Allen, that’s been about the only time everybody’s been on the same page.
That’s something that must change if the Lady Raiders hope to take a share of a district title for the fourth straight season. Ryan opens District 5-5A play at home tonight against Flower Mound Marcus, with tipoff set for 7:30 p.m.
“We’re used to winning district,” Allen said. “We want to win it. My staff and I definitely want to win it, and the kids definitely want to win it. So we would like to see ourselves competing with the best team in the district.
“I believe we can be successful, but our chemistry has to be right.”
Ryan’s opening game should be an indicator of what the remainder of district play will be like for the Lady Raiders (9-12). Marcus has been tabbed by many as the favorite to win the district.
The previous three years, Ryan excelled in Class 4A and earned at least a share of its district title.
But this season, as the Lady Raiders moved up to the state’s highest classification, Allen said she adjusted their nondistrict schedule to find some success early in the season.
“I changed up my preseason a little differently to try to help us be a little bit more successful, just because I knew the game that we were stepping into was going to be a much harder game,” Allen said.
Ryan carries one of the smallest rosters in terms of numbers and height into district play. The Lady Raiders have eight players on their varsity roster for only the second time in Allen’s 11 years at Ryan. The team’s tallest player is senior center Danielle Richardson, who stands at 6-0.
“Our district’s going to be harder, and we don’t have as many people,” Richardson said. “We all have to step up and play. The years before, we’ve had people that have played different spots. We don’t now.”
Over the last three seasons, senior point guard Teana Ogden has been Ryan’s most effective player. Ogden, who has signed to play at Oral Roberts next year, has recovered from a torn ACL suffered in last year’s first-round playoff loss to Amarillo Palo Duro.
Ogden missed three weeks this season because of non-basketball reasons and made her return in a loss to Krum on Dec. 22.
With Ryan’s key scorer returning to the lineup, things haven’t quite meshed according to plan.
“We played one of our better games without her, and then when we got her back, we haven’t yet all got on the same page,” Allen said. “We’re still working on a bit of chemistry. We’re so young and we have so much talent.”
Allen said that sometimes the team places too great a burden on the shoulders of the 5-4 Ogden.
“When we rely on her too much, it’s hard to win ballgames, because not one person can win the ballgame,” Allen said. “She understands and she knows that she needs everyone.”
Ogden and Richardson aren’t shy about their ambitions to finish their East McKinney Street careers with a fourth straight district title.
“We should place first or second — hopefully first,” Ogden said. “We just have to play together. Once we play together, it will all fall [in place].”
BEN BABY can be reached 940-566-6869. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .