Lady Cats' thump Commerce
Bobby "Butch" Burney | News-Telegram Sports Editor

Nov. 29, 2006 - The Sulphur Springs Lady Cats' best offense on Tuesday was their defense.

Sulphur Springs forced 32 Commerce turnovers and capitalized with 14 transition points on the way to a 51-25 victory over the Lady Tigers in Wildcat Gym.

The Lady Cats shot just 29 percent from the field (19-of-66), but it didn't matter in the outcome because they grabbed 16 more offensive rebounds than Commerce and came up with 18 more steals, led by senior Emily Bouyear with seven steals and sophomore Mackenzie Cross and junior Jessica Savage with six take-aways each.

Because of the difference in turnovers and rebounds, the Lady Cats took more than twice as many shots from the field than did Commerce (66-32) and almost double the free throws (22-12).

"It was definitely going to have to be our defense tonight because it wasn't our offense," said SSHS head coach Tina Carrillo. "You could definitely tell we took five days off for Thanksgiving.

"Maybe we'll come out next time and be sharper shooting as a team. Our offense, as far as creating it, wasn't there so we had to make things happen on defense. We feel like our best offense right now is our defense."

Offensively, freshman Stephanie Pruitt provided a game-high 12 points, with eight of those coming in the transition game, where she finished with a lay-up after a teammate provided a steal in the front court.

Junior post Star Wright added seven points and 10 rebounds, while junior Stephanie Conley, senior Cresha Hubbard, Bouyear and Savage added six points apiece. Hubbard had a team-high 11 rebounds.

Commerce was paced by Danielle Essix with 11 points and 12 boards.

Sulphur Springs trailed just once in the game, that was a minute into the first quarter when Commerce's April Neal gave the Lady Tigers a 2-1 advantage. But, the Lady Cats reeled off six straight points on a Hubbard low-post basket, a Savage 3-pointer, and a Hubbard free throw to put the Lady Cats up, 7-2.

The lead eventually got to 13-6 by the end of the first quarter, then SSHS' Wright scored two inside buckets off feeds from Shardae Jones to open the second quarter and extend the advantage to double digits, 17-6. The Lady Cats ended the first half with a 26-14 lead after Jones hit a pair of free throws when she was fouled after gathering in an offensive rebound at the buzzer.

In the second half, the Lady Cats turned up the pressure, forcing Commerce to turn the ball over on nine of their first 10 possessions. That allowed the Lady Cats to score 11 straight points. Bouyear and Cross started the scoring with lay-ups after stealing the ball, then Hubbard had a putback basket, Savage knocked down a 3-pointer and Bouyear capitalized onanother steal with a lay-up. With 3:30 remaining in the third, SSHS had a 37-14 lead.

"This is probably the best game I've seen Emily have.," said Carrillo. "I think she's realizing her role on the team, and I think tonight and the last couple of games she's realized that if she runs that run-and-jump press right, she gets more PT (playing time), and that was the case tonight."

"There's one thing about this press that helps our team - it changes the intensity of the team. If we get out of the press, we lose our intensity."

SSHS Subvarsity 31, Commerce 25

Commerce didn't have enough players for two subvarsity teams, so the SSHS freshmen and JV combined to play six, six-minute quarters (each unit played three quarters each).

For the JV, Jamie Askins and Alyssa Burney led the team with four points each, and Burney added a game-high five steals to go with three rebounds. Melanie Hudson contributed two points and a team-high five rebounds, while Erika Garrett had three steals and two assists, and Amy Highfield came up with four offensive rebounds.

For the freshmen, Ashanti Ivery scored a team-high nine points to go with two steals and two assists, Kayla Phillips and Chasity Hall scored four points each. Hall also had three steals. Brittany Woolley and Brittany Wright each scored two points.

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