Lady Cats fall to Texas High in rubber match
By BOBBY "BUTCH" BURNEY | News-Telegram Sports Editor
Feb. 10, 2007 - DAINGERFIELD - The third time, unfortunately, wasn't the charm for Sulphur Springs.
Playing a rubber match against Texas High to see who would have the third playoff seed in District 11-4A, the Lady Cats got behind early and could never catch up in a 50-35 loss on Friday.
Texas High (15-10) will advance in bi-district to face Whitehouse, the 12-4A runner-up, Tuesday at East Texas Baptist University in Marshall.
For Sulphur Springs, the season ended with a 21-11 record. The two teams had split their two regular season games, with each team winning on its home court.
Texas High was the aggressor early on Friday, taking a lead on its first possession of the game and never trailing. T-High senior Miracle Thurston hit her first three shots from the field as the Lady Tigers took a 9-0 advantage four minutes into the game. Thurston finished with 12 points and six boards, one of three Lady Tigers to score in double figures.
Junior Jessica Hicks came off the bench to hit four 3-pointers for T-High en route to a game-high 18 points, and 6-0 junior center Dedra Ganaway, playing in her second varsity game because of residency issues, had a monstrous game with 21 rebounds, 12 points, three blocks and numerous altered shots.
Sulphur Springs missed its first eight attempts from the field before sophomore guard Mackenzie Cross knocked down a floater in the lane to cut the deficit to 9-2, which is how the first quarter ended.
Cross finished with seven points and three steals, while freshman guard Stefanie Pruitt had a team-high 10 points and three boards off the bench.
The Lady Cats hit just one of their first 17 shots from the field and made just 2-of-24 field goals in the first half.
"We just started out offensively like the basket had a lid on it," said SSHS head coach Tina Carrillo. "I saw more airballs in the first half than I've seen all year. I think a lot of it was due to nerves and some of it had to do with the feeling that we had to rush our shots because of the quickness of the other team.
"I think our shooting percentage was probably one of the worst that we've had all year in the first half."
Ganaway had something to do with it. A physical, athletic player, she had 16 rebounds in the first half alone and continually made the Lady Cats rush their shots. She also held SSHS junior post Starkeisha Wright scoreless for only the second game all season.
Fortunately, the Lady Cats were better on the defensive end as they kept Texas High from running away. The Lady Tigers did eventually get as much as a 13-point lead at 19-6, but SSHS junior Stephanie Conley scored the final three points of the first half on a free throw after being fouled on a drive and a putback basket to draw the Lady Cats to within 19-9 at intermission.
Conley had a team-high eight rebounds to go with four points. Also scoring four points for SSHS were Emily Bouyear, Jessica Savage and Cresha Hubbard.
The Lady Cats came out after halftime with more offensive focus.
"I think we livened up in the second half, and I tried to pull (Texas High) out and open up the lane a little bit so we could penetrate some," Carrillo said. "When we started doing that, we started getting to the line and hitting a basket here and there.
"The second half, our goal was to get them off the boards. They had so many offensive rebounds in the first half. That was our goal in the first half, and we tried to reset our focus on that at halftime."
It worked, as Texas High was held to six offensive rebounds in the second half, compared to 12 in the first half.
SSHS senior Cresha Hubbard hit a pair of baskets in the opening two minutes of the third quarter to keep SSHS afloat, and then junior Jessica Savage hit a pair of free throws to set the stage for a duel between the two team's outside shooters: Hicks for Texas High and Pruitt for Sulphur Springs.
Pruitt hit a 3-pointer from the right wing with 4:02 to play in the period to draw SSHS to within 24-18, but Hicks answered with trey of her own. Pruitt came back with a high-arcing, pull-up jumper over Ganaway, but Hicks was fouled on a drive and made both free throws to keep the margin at nine points, 29-20.
SSHS' Cross then split the lane for a bucket, but Hicks hit another 3-pointer, followed by a Thurston jumper, before Pruitt ended the period with a jumper off a pass from Bouyear to set the score at 34-24 heading into the final period.
Bouyear made a pair of free throws to open the quarter and Savage pulled up for a 15-footer to get SSHS to within six points again at 34-28 with seven minutes to play.
But, Hicks bombed two straight 3-pointers on Texas High's next two possessions to give them a double-digit lead again, and the Lady Cats were never able to cut the deficit below nine points after that.
"In the end, we lost sight of who had the hot hand for Texas High, which was No. 21 (Hicks)," said Carrillo. "She hit four threes in the second half and that destroyed the surge we had going. We were more concerned, I think, with Ganaway inside and we failed to realize who had the hot hand for Texas High.
"I thought our effort was good defensively in the first half. We just struggled offensively tonight. "
Texas High won the rebounding battle, 50-31, helped out by 10 boards from senior LaShae Harris. Sulphur Springs finished the game shooting 12-of-46 from the field (26 percent), while Texas High was 17-of-55 (31 percent).