As the sports editor of a community newspaper, I can be a bit of a homer, but only to a certain extent. While I wish the best for every Galveston County team and hope to have teams in every classification in every sport win state every year, I’m also realistic and know that is simply not in the cards for most.

In any classification, it takes a rare team to be a legitimate state championship contender, and now five years into covering high school sports, I can usually spot a team like this at some point.

Last year, I could tell pretty early on that Clear Creek volleyball had a shot at state, and the team made it all the way to the state final. The same can be said of last year’s Clear Springs girls basketball team, which had its run ended in the regional finals in a game that was taken out of the players’ hands.

Three years ago, both Clear Falls volleyball and La Marque boys basketball didn’t quite reveal the traits of a potential champion until each of their playoff runs, which ended in the state final and state semifinals, respectively.

But, even with those teams there were always qualifiers — ifs and buts. “Team A has a shot at state, but eventually they probably have to run into this team that might have their number.” “Team B has a shot at state, if none of their starters has an off-night.” Et cetera, et cetera.

So, when I say that this year’s Hitchcock girls basketball team has a shot at state, end of story, I think it’s a real possibility.

The Lady Bulldogs were one of those aforementioned teams I knew would be really good, but I didn’t realize how good until the first time I saw them live and in person this season.

When choosing games to attend, I try to circle ones I think might be competitive. When I saw a Hitchcock pre-district home game against a Coldspring-Oakhurst that went two rounds deep into playoffs last season, I thought, “maybe this will be a challenge for Hitchcock.”

Facing a quality team that eventually went three rounds into the playoffs this season, Hitchcock started the game on an 18-0 run, won the first quarter by the score of 32-4 and logged an 81-40 win. That was the moment I knew that this Hitchcock team was one of those rare teams that could take state.

Combining athleticism, sharp shooting and an up-tempo style of play that wears opponents down, Hitchcock continued to show its potential, as the team completely dominated a quality District 24-3A.

Hitchcock outscored its district opponents by an average of 49.7 points per game. Against district runner-up East Bernard (which won its first-round playoff game), the Lady ‘Dawgs won their two games by a combined score of 145-67.

Hitchcock has taken care of business in the playoffs thus far, and are in the regional tournament, where the team fell last year in the regional semifinals. For more on the Lady Bulldogs’ road to redemption in the regional tournament, check out Friday’s Sports Plus.

James LaCombe: 409-683-5242, or on Twitter @JamesAtGalvNews

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