Lady Longhorns Motto: Beat Yesterday
It just wouldn’t be a postseason without the Cedar Hill Lady Longhorns coming to the party.
The Lady Longhorns have a history of success in basketball, as evidenced by their current streak of seven consecutive playoff appearances. What’s more, once they earn a postseason berth, they consistently prove themselves worthy of being there.
In each of the past six seasons under the leadership of head coach Nicole Collins, the Lady Longhorns have advanced to at least the third round of the playoffs. Last season they reached the regional finals before falling 56-54 to district rival Duncanville, which would go on to win the Class 6A state championship.
What’s their secret? Collins said there isn’t one.
“I don’t believe there is a secret. It’s just a commitment to hard work and excellence in all that we do,” she said. “Our program motto is ‘Beat yesterday.’ Every day we strive to improve individually and as a team.”
Perhaps making this season’s appearance even more impressive is the Lady Longhorns returned only one starter from last season’s squad, Portia Adams. However, the depth from last year is also paying off this year as starting point guard Carolynn Washington played many valuable minutes a year ago. Also, three sophomores were on the varsity as freshmen last season, playing behind and learning from experienced seniors.
‘No Substitute For Experience’
Collins knows what it’s like to grow from experience. She was previously an assistant for three seasons at Cedar Hill, including being a part of the team that reached the 2010 state semifinals. She was also an assistant at Fort Worth Dunbar when the Lady Wildcats won state.
“That was huge being able to be a part of that experience. There is no substitute for experience,” she said. “To be a part of the grind, journey and process of making it to state, and winning state, helping to develop a team that came together in the right way at the right time – sacrificing self for the sake of the team is invaluable.”
This season’s team, much like last season, is in a district with two of the top programs in the nation with DeSoto and Duncanville. Collins admitted that allows for a little bit of anonymity. However, the bottom line is they still have to win the games.
“I think it does to a degree because there is a lot of focus on those programs, which is well deserved. But I believe that we have a name at Cedar Hill that is definitely respected,” she said. “People know when they play a Cedar Hill team they will be scrappy, with hustlers and intense and aggressive on the defensive end.”
Striving for Perfection Leads To Improvement
Which brings us back to the “Beat yesterday” motto.
“That’s how I coach. How I am in district is much more intense and demanding than in the regular season. And that goes up, once we hit the playoffs. Expectations rise,” Collins said.
“We strive for perfection in all drills and every practice, although we know it’s unattainable. And as a result I believe it ‘forces’ our players to grow and demand that ‘perfection’ of themselves, leading to improvement throughout the season.”
Last season’s disappointing loss to Duncanville was the third time in Collins’ tenure at the helm of the Lady Longhorns. This includes the past two to eliminate them from the playoffs.
Establishing A Legacy
“Every year our goal is to surpass the team from the previous season because a foundation has been laid that we will not allow to be uprooted. And for the most part we have done that,” Collins said. “It’s not just about winning, but not allowing those who came before them to have sacrificed in vain – that we are establishing a legacy here and that everyone can’t be a part of it. So if you are a part of the Cedar Hill family, you play not just for yourself or your current team, but those before and after you.”
Whatever lies ahead in the playoffs, Collins said her team has already proven themselves champions – as have others – by surviving the COVID-19 pandemic to reach the postseason.
“This has been such a tough year for so many. We have had to adjust in ways we never foresaw,” she said. “But there is beauty in that because I believe that is definition of life and sports – adjusting, adapting, overcoming.
“And I am so proud of my girls and how they have done that this year, with so much working against them. They are champions in my heart for that alone.”