Turn About: Lady Cats get into rebound mode

By BOBBY "BUTCH" BURNEY | News-Telegram Sports Editor

Dec. 7, 2007 - COMMERCE - With the team's leading rebounder out of action with an injury, the Sulphur Springs Lady Cats needed someone to step into her shoes. Turns, out, there were a lot of shoes that fit.

Seven of the Lady Cats' nine players had at least four rebounds apiece as Sulphur Springs controlled the boards, helping them put down an uprising by the Dallas Hillcrest Lady Panthers in a 58-42 victory in the opening round of the Commerce Winter Classic.

The Lady Cats (7-5) are scheduled to play Mount Vernon at 6 p.m. today in the tournament semifinals.

SSHS senior forward Stephanie Conley aggravated a quadriceps injury on Tuesday and will be out indefinitely. That takes away 9.4 rebounds per game, more than double anyone else on the team.

Against Hillcrest (2-9), the Lady Cats grabbed 44 rebounds, almost double the 25 that Hillcrest recorded. Sulphur Springs was led by senior center Starkeisha Wright with 10 points and 11 rebounds, her first double-double of the season, and a 16-point, six-rebound effort from sophomore guard Stefanie Pruitt. Stevie Moore added 10 points, five rebounds and four assists.

The Lady Cats built as much as a 19-point lead in the second quarter at 27-8 on a putback bucket by Wright. But, SSHS junior guard Mackenzie Cross went to the bench with her third foul with 3:51 to play in the half and Hillcrest took advantage of it, going on a 14-0 run to close out the second quarter.

Hillcrest's run, which brought the halftime score to 27-22, was powered by Bianca Johnson, who had eight points in the period and 10 points overall. Andrea Melendez led the Lady Panthers in scoring with 12 points, while Briane Anderson also scored 10.

SSHS head coach Tina Carrillo said the second-quarter lapse proved that the team needs to stay focused for four quarters.

"It wasn't a pretty, but at this point, we just need to focus on things we aren't doing right," she said. "We have a lot of things to work on after this game. But, I'm happy to come out with a win."

Tops among the things to work on are "decision-making, spacing and running the system," she said. "We didn't do a very good job of running our system efficiently."

Hillcrest eventually got the lead down to two points on a twisting lay-up by Melendez midway through the third quarter, but Pruitt and Moore answered with back-to-back 3-pointers to give the Lady Cats a 37-29 cushion.

"In the second half, we did a little bit better job of taking better shots. I had a talk with Stefanie Pruitt about stepping up and taking some good shots," Carrillo said. "At one point, Dallas Hillcrest was running a zone against us, and we were able to put both shooters on the line, and I think that turned it around for us."

Sulphur Springs took a 40-35 lead into the fourth quarter, then started the period with an 8-0 run that salted the game away. Pruitt was instrumental in the surge, grabbing an offensive rebound and feeding Wright for a bucket, and then converting a steal into two free throws. Cross scored on a cutter and Jessica Savage, who had four points and six rebounds, had a putback basket with 4:50 to play.

Junior Varsity

SSHS 31, Canton 27

TYLER - The Lady Cats improved to 10-2 on the season by holding off Canton in the opening round of the John Tyler tournament.

Kayla Phillips led the team with eight points, while Ja Monica Hall added seven points and Alyssa Burney and Melanie Hudson scored six points apiece. Jamie Askins and Chasity Hall each bucketed two.

SSHS is scheduled to play in the tournament semifinals at 8 a.m. Saturday.

Freshmen

Tyler Lee 30, SSHS 29

TYLER - The Lady Cats (4-6) were unable to pull out the victory despite a well-played game.

Frankeisha Hawkins had 11 points and 10 rebounds to pace the team, while Caitlyn Nix added four points, 11 rebounds and two blocked shots. Kyrie Ivery had four points and four rebounds, Bre Edwards four points, Megan Massey two points, Tyesha Thomas with two points and three assists, and Bradyn Burney with two points, four rebounds and two assists.

SSHS was scheduled to play Longview at 2 p.m. today.

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