The Highland girls bas-ketball team has been here before. Two years ago, they were also at the Region II-A tourney at Abilene Christian University where they lost to Newcastle in the semifinals. This yearâ€™s team hopes for a much different outcome when it plays Baird in the semifinals at 7 p.m. today.
The ultimate goal will be to do something no Highland team has done â€” go to the state tournament in Austin. That means the Lady Hornets (29-4) must not only defeat Baird (26-6) but also beat Garden City or Eula, who play in todayâ€™s other semifinal, in the II-A final on Saturday.
Highland won its first two playoff games to get to this point after receiving a first-round bye as District 13-A, D-II champion. The Lady Hornets whipped Zephyr 48-29 in the area round, then held off Water Valley 40-32 this past Tuesday in the regional quarterfinals.
Highland already has a taste of what to expect this weekend, having faced all three of the teams in the II-A field. The Lady Hornets lost to Garden City 31-24, but beat Eula 41-25 and defeated Baird 43-28.
In the last game, High-land used a big second quar-ter against Baird to build a sizable lead. But coach Shea Baucom isnâ€™t putting a lot of stock in what happened in that first meeting that took place back on Nov. 20.
Baucom, who returned for a second stint at Highland this year after previously coaching the Lady Hornets from 2000-09, knows that Highland and Baird have both improved considerably since they first played.
Highland, which is un-ranked despite its gaudy record, is facing a Baird team ranked No. 18 in Class 1A, Division II. But the Lady Hornets beat a Water Valley team ranked No. 16 in the state on Tuesday. Garden City (No. 13) also is has a state ranking while Eula is unranked.
Baird has played three games in the Class 1A, Division II playoffs so far, and barely survived its last two after starting out with a resounding 65-20 win over Newcastle in bi-district.
The Lady Bears won 56-55 over Aspermont in over-time in the area round, and Baird followed that up with a come-from-behind 40-37 win over Guthrie in the regional quarterfinals on Tuesday. The Lady Bears trailed by four, 33-29, at the end of three quarters but outscored Guthrie 11-4 over the final eight minutes to pull out the victory.