Four Ellis County high school basketball teams will open the 2019-2020 season ranked by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches. Leading the way are Midlothian High School’s boys and Heritage High School’s girls.

The Panthers open at No. 14 in the Class 5A preseason rankings. MHS (24-10), which tied Red Oak for the District 14-5A title a year ago, advanced to the area round, beating North Forney 72-61 before losing 62-57 to eventual 5A state runner-up Sulphur Springs.

On the girls’ side, Heritage is ranked No. 18 in the 4A preseason poll. HHS (33-6) was undefeated in 17-4A and went four rounds deep last year, falling to Sour Lake Hardin-Jefferson in the 4A Region III semifinals. Heritage is the only Ellis County girls’ team to open the season in the polls.

Meanwhile, the Waxahachie Indians check in at No. 19 in the Class 6A boys preseason rankings. The Indians, who finished 17-15 and narrowly lost to Duncanville in the first round of last February’s playoffs, open as favorites to win the District 7-6A title after last year’s fourth-place finish. No other teams in the district are ranked.

Life Waxahachie’s boys open at No. 18 in the Class 4A preseason poll. The Mustangs (26-11) won the 17-4A championship with a perfect 10-0 record and reached the 4A Region III tournament, falling to Silsbee in the semifinals.

Practice for the upcoming season began on Oct. 23 for girls’ teams and is to start on Wednesday for the boys. The first games for the girls are Nov. 8, and the season tips off for the boys on Nov. 15.