Overwhelmed: Lady Wolves control Lionettes
Before Friday's first quarter was over, the Plano West girls basketball team had asserted its dominance over district rival McKinney en route to a 61-40 victory.
"Our confidence got rattled in the first half," said Debbie Harris, McKinney head coach. "Plano West is a great team that has some incredible athletes and we knew that coming in."
The No. 3 state-ranked Lady Wolves improve to 3-0 in District 10-5A while McKinney falls to 1-2.
"We had great defensive intensity in the first half," said Don Patterson, West head coach. "We played well in spurts, but we got the win and that's all that matters in district."
Leading the scoring for the Lady Wolves was senior Allison Staley with 13, followed by freshman Natalie Chou with 10 and seniors Devri Owens and Mattie Swearingen, who each had eight.
Patterson was especially proud of the effort from Chou.
"Natalie had a good game tonight," he said. "She was a big part of helping us get going in the first quarter and in the second quarter, mostly from playing hard, playing good defense and attacking the basket."
For McKinney, junior Mariah Mitchell had 21 points, while junior Mika Stutts had seven and senior Brittany Collard scored six.
"Mariah played much better in the second half," Harris said. "They all did."
The Lionettes hung with the Lady Wolves for the first part of the opening quarter. It unraveled from there as West turned a 7-6 game into a 20-9 lead heading into the second. Things continued to go the Lady Wolves' way as they shutout the Lionettes in the second quarter for the 36-9 halftime lead.
Nine different Lady Wolves had scored in the first half.
"I think we just lost our confidence," Harris said. "We gave up too many shots. We controlled our own fate on that."
The Lionettes wasted no time in getting on the board in the second half as junior Jazsmin Nelson sank a layup less than 10 seconds into the third for McKinney's first basket since the opening frame. It was part of a 10-2 run by the Lionettes, which included a pair of free throws and a jumper from Mitchell and a jumper from junior Leslie Zupanic as McKinney cut the deficit to 38-19.
"Our kids did a get job of regrouping," Harris said. "I thought we played much better in the second half than we did in the first."
The run was the first part of a strong third quarter for McKinney in which the Lionettes outscored the Lady Wolves, 18-9.
"We came out with no intensity," Patterson said. "When you don't have intensity on the defensive end, we're not very good on the offensive end. We sort of stand around when that happens. We stood around and they outplayed us."
West's strong first half, though, provided the cushion needed as the Lady Wolves began the final frame with a 45-27 advantage and controlled things the rest of the way.
Patterson, however, isn't content with his team just coasting to a victory.
"This team needs to learn how to play hard for four quarters and we haven't done that since the second game of the season," he said. "That's something we have to really work on."
West is on the road at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday versus fellow district-unbeaten Plano Senior while McKinney hosts Allen at 6 p.m.
"We need to focus on the opportunities we have to make us better as a team," Harris said. "I hope they learn from this game that we can compete when we want to and we need to keep from getting our head down or digging ourselves into a hole."