In making the playoffs for the 10th straight year, the Highland girls basket-ball team took awhile to really catch fire.
Highland (22-11) lost its first three games of the season, and didnâ€™t get above .500 for good until beating Ira 62-29 on Dec. 21 to improve to 9-8.
But a closer look indi-cates those early â€śstrug-glesâ€ť were a bit deceiving. Five of the first eight losses were to eventual playoff teams and three came against Hamlin (twice) and Roby, who are still alive and kicking.
So is Highland, which advanced to the Region II-A, Division II tournament with a 53-32 win over Bronte Tuesday at Angelo State University.
Thereâ€™s no question the Lady Hornets are playing their best basketball right now, and it couldnâ€™t come at a better time.
With two more wins this weekend at Abilene Christian Universityâ€™s Moody Coliseum â€” beginning with its semifinal against seventh-ranked Newcastle that tips off at 2 p.m. Friday â€” High-land will earn a trip to the state tournament in Austin for the first time. Newcastle (29-5) beat No. 5 Throckmorton 62-47 in its regional quarterfinal.
Two of Highlandâ€™s three playoff wins came against teams it faced in the regular season. And a third rematch could take place in Saturdayâ€™s 2 p.m. regional final if Highland knocks off Newcastle while Roby also beats Lipan in its semifinal at 4 p.m. Friday. Roby defeated Highland twice to capture the District 11-A, Division II title, while the Lady Hornets were district runnerups. But the last meeting came right down to the wire, with Roby winning 30-28 on a last-second shot.