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Girls basketball: Smith closing in on district title
It's been so long since Newman Smith's girls basketball team last won a district championship that even head coach Amanda Leader isn't sure the exact year.
But with a win Tuesday against West Mesquite (results not available as of press time), the unbeaten-in-district Lady Trojans will be assured at least a share of the District 10-4A title.
"It's been at least 13 years from what I know," Leader said.
"I thought this team was capable of a run like this, it was just a matter of getting it together. We've really stressed the importance of defense this year and the kids are doing a great job. We got a lot of steals, tips and hands on balls and that starts our transition game."
Smith (11-0) cruised in a pair of contests last week to remain two games in front of West Mesquite (9-2) and Highland Park (9-2) with just two games remaining after Tuesday. The Lady Trojans also have a date remaining with the Lady Scots (7 p.m. Friday) and have already beaten both squads in district play.
"We've been doing alright, but we have a tough week ahead of us," Leader said. "We beat both teams, but they were both tight, hard-fought games."
While a pair of battles may be in store, Smith secured its most lopsided win in district Tuesday when they blitzed Terrell, 69-16.
The Lady Trojans led, 22-5, after one quarter and after three quarters by a healthy margin of 58-10.
Faith Rolen led the way with 13 points, while Amanda Wilson chipped in 12. Smith had 11 players score in the win.
"We use a bunch of different players and when we go to the bench, we don't want to see any difference when the subs come in," Leader said. "They play with the same intensity and the same tempo. And they've gotten to play a lot and that could prove invaluable in the playoffs."
Wilson, meanwhile, has been catalyst in Smith's past results.
"She's a post who we brought up from JV a couple of games ago," Leader said. "She gives us much more balance on offense where the defense can't focus on Kim (Nezianya) so much. She can score and rebound and is another player we can run the offense through. And none of our remaining opponents have faced us with her yet."
The Lady Trojans had no problem scoring Friday either in a win over North Forney (60-30).
Dasia Johnson came in off the bench to match Wilson with a team-high 13 points, while Rolen scored 12 and Jazmine Humble had 10.
The squad actually trailed after one quarter, 14-3, before releasing an onslaught in the second quarter, where they held a 24-5 edge.
"We've had some slow starts," Leader said. "It's taken us a quarter or two to really get rolling. But teams do a lot of different things to try and slow us down. We see a lot of different defenses and combinations that make us think, but eventually we've been able to figure it out. I think that can really help in the playoffs where there isn't a large scouting window and you have to react on the fly more."
Smith now looks to clinch the district and prepare for the postseason.
"We're working on fine-tuning a few things," Leader said. "Our defense has been good, but we know we're not going to be able to scout teams as much in the postseason. We're working on adding, adjusting, modifying and disguising some things so hopefully we can catch teams by surprise."
Boys basketball: Trojans in first as well
The Lady Trojans are the only basketball team at Smith with their eyes on a 4-5A title as the boys squad is also on top.
The Trojans (8-1) have won five consecutive games following a loss Jan. 8 against Highland Park, including defeating Terrell Jan. 22 (65-46) and North Forney Friday (70-54).
Walter Rickett posted 18 points in the win over North Forney, while Stephen Spurlock contributed 16, Darion Brown scored 12 and Camryn Cole notched 10.
Against Terrell, Brown and Rickett had 21 and 20 points respectively, while Ben Higgonbotham chipped in eight.
Smith continued Tuesday at West Mesquite (results not available as of press time) and stays on the road at 8 p.m. Friday at Highland Park. The Wranglers (7-2) and Scots (6-3) are nipping at the Trojans' heels in the district standings.