NL girls continue their run through district
By BOBBY "BUTCH" BURNEY, News-Telegram Sports Editor
Jan. 27, 2008 - Sulphur Springs shooters finally found their marks in the fourth quarter Friday night against the North Lamar Pantherettes, but there is no such thing as a 20-point shot.
That's what the Lady Cats needed as North Lamar continued its dominance of District 11-4A with a 56-33 victory at Wildcat Gym.
North Lamar, forcing turnovers with its half-court trap on defense and then running back-door cuts in its set offense, took a 20-point lead into the fourth quarter before Sulphur Springs hit four 3-pointers to get back to within 12 points.
The Pantherettes, though, closed out the game on a 16-5 run to improve their record to 25-5 overall, 7-0 in district.
Sulphur Springs fell to 11-15, 3-4, but remained tied with Lindale for third place after Mount Pleasant beat Lindale on Friday. The Lady Cats control their own destiny with three regular season games remaining. If they win all three, they will claim the third and final playoff spot.
There doesn't appear to be a question of who will win district as North Lamar's senior-laden squad again showed a smothering pressure defense and a patient, precision offense.
NL head coach Roy Tom Stone used a short bench, playing just six players, but five of them scored at least eight points, led by Ali Stone with 15 points, eight rebounds, three steals and three assists, and Logan Anglin and Emily Fouse with 12 points each.
Sulphur Springs' Jessica Savage and Stephanie Conley each had nine points and Mackenzie Cross had seven points and six assists. Four of her assists came in the fourth quarter when Savage hit a pair of 3-pointers and Stefanie Pruitt and Ashanti Ivery each buried one from long range.
"I thought we did an OK job tonight," said SSHS head coach Tina Carrillo. "We still provided sparks tonight at times. We got hot from the outside in the fourth quarter, but we just couldn't continue to do that."
North Lamar set the early tempo, forcing six SSHS turnovers in the first quarter and converting them into 11 points. For the game, North Lamar converted 19 SSHS turnovers into 25 points, while the Lady Cats had nine points off 11 NL miscues.
Pruitt hit a 15-foot jumper and Conley went end-to-end for a layup as the only SSHS field goals in the first period. Conley had six more points in the second period, including a low-post bucket and a leaner in the lane, but North Lamar still held a 24-12 halftime lead.
North Lamar's Fouse had a strong game driving to the basket as she scored nine of her 12 points before intermission. After halftime, Anglin and Stone took over as they combined for nine points in the third period, while holding Sulphur Springs scoreless over the first 5 1/2 minutes of the quarter.
Savage broke the scoreless streak with a 3-pointer, then Cross added two jump shots in the lane - the final one at the buzzer to pull the Lady Cats to within 38-19 entering the fourth period.
In the final period, the Lady Cats got hot from the outside, and the teams traded SSHS 3-pointers for North Lamar back-door layups for the first half of the period as the Lady Cats cut the deficit to 40-28.
But, North Lamar kept getting shots in the lane and eventually took away the Lady Cats' outside looks. North Lamar finished the game shooting 23-of-39 from the field (59 percent), while SSHS hit 12-of-29 (41 percent).
"They're the legitimate ninth-best team in the state," Carrillo said of North Lamar's ranking. "It's hard to defend them because they're so athletic, you get caught up in their screens, and they so smart with the basketball.
"They forced us into man-to-man, and that's not a strength of ours, especially against a team with size, athleticism and quickness. They beat us to the spots and were left with point-blank layups. I look at the shot chart and there are circles all in the lane for them."
Fortunately for the Lady Cats, no other team in the district has proven to have the same firepower that North Lamar has. However, Mount Pleasant (6-1) is in second place, and that is who the Lady Cats host on Tuesday. Regardless of how that game turns out, Sulphur Springs will travel to Lindale on Friday for a must-win game.
"I'm not down at all," Carrillo said of Friday's loss. "We don't have time to worry about what happened this game. We've got Mount Pleasant on Tuesday and Lindale on Friday to get ready for."
SSHS 31, North Lamar 27
JaMonica Hall had a huge game to lead the Lady Cats. She had 18 points, four steals and three rebounds as SSHS improved to 22-6 overall, 6-1 in district.
Melanie Hudson added six points and five rebounds, Kayla Phillips had four points and eight boards, Linsey Fouse added two points, Talea Reynolds had one points, Jamie Askins recorded four assists and two steals, and Alyssa Burney contributed five rebounds.
SSHS 27, North Lamar 13
The Lady Cats improved to 3-4 in district, 8-17 overall by sweeping NL. Kyri Ivery had seven points, five rebounds and four steals, Katie Hu added six points, and Frankeisha Hawkins scored five points and had four rebounds and four steals.
Tyesha Thomas contributed two points and three assists, Megan Massey added two points and four rebounds and Ariel Spataro added four points and four rebounds. Taylor Eastwood had one point and four rebounds, Bradyn Burney had three rebounds and three assists, and Caitlyn Nix added three rebounds.