By JUSTIN RAINS
After playing lock-down defense in the second quarter to get back into its game against visiting T.K. Gorman Tuesday, that same defense let it down in the second half.
The Ladycats allowed 37 second-half points to the Lady Crusaders, as Gorman pulled away for a 63-40 victory in a game that was 26-23 at the half.
“We didn’t play good man-to-man defense tonight,” PHS coach Joseph Baker said. “Our help defense was not there and it’s one of those things we’ve got to figure out because we’ve got to be able to help when it comes to our man-to-man defense.”
After watching Gorman storm out to a 20-7 lead after the first quarter against his zone defense, Baker made the switch to man-to-man defense in the second quarter with much success.
The move kept Gorman’s quick guards out of the lane, and opened up transitional offensive opportunities for the Ladycats, where Palestine thrives.
That was how Palestine was able to outscore the Lady Crusaders 16-6 in the second quarter and cut the lead to six at the half.
That defensive surge coincided with the rise of Dana Whitehead’s scoring, which had been limited to only two points in the first quarter.
Whitehead scored eight of her team-high 18 points during that second quarter run that got the Ladycats right back into the ballgame.
Palestine then cut the lead to five early in the third quarter before the wheels came off.
That stingy defense that had helped Palestine back into the game failed the Ladycats in the third and fourth quarter, as Gorman was once again able to get into the lane almost at will, despite Palestine’s man-to-man defense.
“Playing away from the ball, we just didn’t do a good job there in the third quarter,” Baker said.
It didn’t help that Gorman routinely forced Palestine into taking difficult shots, or that Palestine couldn’t seem to knock them down when they came.
Palestine shot 13-of-44 (29.5 percent) from the field in the game, and where only 1-of-11 (9 percent) from behind the three-point line.
“I told Dana in the game, ‘You’re pressing out there,’” Baker said. “There were opening there, even when they set up in their pressure and half-court trap. It’d be easy to break, we’ve just got to have more basketball knowledge.
“That’s something I’ve got to do as a coach to get them prepared a lot better, because that’s my job.”
Along with her 18 points, Whitehead had five rebounds while Paradyse Page had 12 points.
Palestine will have to rebound quickly from the loss, as the Ladycats welcome in Rusk Tuesday for the start of District 19-3A play.
H.S. BOYS BASKETBALL
Madisonville 61, CAYUGA 58
A rough second half doomed the seventh-ranked Cayuga boys’ basketball team Tuesday, as the Wildcats fell to Class 3A Madisonville, 61-58.
The Mustangs outscored Cayuga 33-23 in the second half of the game.
Chandler Rigdon had 22 points to lead Cayuga in the loss, while Deon Shofner had 14. Preston Anderson, who scored 45 in Cayuga’s New Year’s Eve win over Westwood, was held to 12.
The Wildcats (12-6) continue their string of games against 3A opponents at 10 a.m. today when they take on Canton. Cayuga then hosts Mexia Tuesday.
Sports editor Justin Rains can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org