Lady Cats surpass last season's win total with win over Commerce
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

Dec. 31, 2005 - The Sulphur Springs Lady Cats discovered another reason to celebrate on New Year's Eve - another victory.

Sulphur Springs surpassed last season's win total on Friday with a 79-23 victory over Commerce. The Lady Cats (7-12) have just one more game before opening district at home against Texas High next Friday.

Sulphur Springs and Commerce both have just four upperclassmen on their varsity squads, but the Lady Cats got the most out of their young players.

Sophomore post Starkeisha Wright posted a double-double of 18 points and 10 rebounds, sophomore forward Stephanie Connally added eight points and 10 boards, freshman point guard McKenzie Cross put up 11 points and eight assists, and senior center Bridgette Nash had her usual double-double of 15 points and 10 rebounds.

"It's a good way for a young player to get confidence in a game like this. A win is a win, and your tendency coming off a win is to celebrate, and that's what we need right now, especially coming off that hard loss to Community," said SSHS head coach Tina Carrillo, referring to the Lady Cats' last game which is their only setback in their last four contests.

The Lady Cats made sure there would be no repeat against Commerce. They got out to an 18-2 lead in the first period as Nash and Wright both made their presence known with seven points apiece in the period.

The Lady Cats also used their defensive pressure to get three easy buckets. Sophomore guard Shardae Jones came up with three steals and also hit a 3-pointer with 95 seconds left in the first quarter. She finished with nine points.

After taking a 23-5 lead into the second period, the Lady Cats allowed just a pair of free throws from Commerce's Crystal Cannon. Sulphur Springs senior Kaytlin Black hit a pair of shots, including the final one of the half that gave SSHS a 46-7 advantage at the break.

Commerce went almost 11 minutes between field goals before Brittany Colwell hit a 3-pointer early in the third period. Commerce actually hit more from behind the arc (4-of-22) than from 2-point land (3-of-20).

Jones answered with another 3-pointer of her own, and junior guard Emily Bouyear turned two steals into lay-ups as she finished with six points, four rebounds and three assists. Whitney Jordan added a pair of buckets as she totaled eight points and a team-high six steals.

Carrillo liked what she is seeing from her young players. With only eight girls on varsity, she has had to have her three sophomores and one freshman baptized by fire. Now, she is starting to see the fruits of that initiation.

"The future's bright for us, because we've got young players who are playing well for us," said said, adding that Connally has become "a rock" for her dependability, that Wright has dramatically improved her production after being inserted into the starting line-up four games ago, and that Cross "played very well."

The team focused on rebounding drills after the loss to Community. As a result, three girls had double-figure rebounds.

"After last week, I felt we struggled with our rebounds and blocking out," Carrillo said. "We set goals so we would focus on those things. That should be our strength, and something we can count on every game. We're making sure the ball isn't just coming to them, but that they're going to get the ball."

The Lady Cats will try to win their fourth win in the last five games on Tuesday when they travel to Royce City for a rematch with the Lady Bulldogs.  The freshmen and JV games will begin at 4 p.m., with the varsity to start at 5:30.

The Lady Cats will then open District 12-4A play on Friday when they host Texas High, one of the favorites in the district race. Game time is 7:30 p.m. for the varsity.


JUNIOR VARSITY

SSHS 39, Commerce 37

Stevie Moore scored 19 points, including two free throws with 8 seconds remaining to give the Lady Cats (5-13) a one-point lead. Erica Garrett hit another free throw with 3 seconds remaining for the final margin. She ended with four points.

Janelle Davis added six points, Brittany Scott four, and two points each from Tasha Lee, Jennifer Mitchell and Alyssa Burney, who had a team-high four steals.


FRESHMEN

SSHS 21, Commerce 19

Talea Reynolds scored seven points, and Jaime and Kayle Askins each scored five for the Lady Cats. Nesha Miles scored three points, and Rachel Johnson had one.

Sabine JV 35, SSHS Freshmen 29 (OT)

QUITMAN - Sabine's JV outscored the Lady Cat freshman squad in overtime of the consolation final of W.T. Black tournament on Thursday.

Reynolds again led the team in scoring with nine points, followed by Jaime Askins with eight, Kayle Askins with seven, and Molly Smith and Miles with two points each. Johnson scored one.

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