By JUSTIN RAINS
With one defensive change and a seemingly increased effort on the court, the Palestine girls’ turned around Tuesday’s game against visiting Canton.
After a sluggish first quarter that saw Palestine trailing 11-7 at the end of it, PHS coach Joseph Baker switched his team to a zone defense.
That, coupled with the Ladycats’ play in that zone, helped them hold Canton to only four points and one made field goal in the quarter, and at the half Palestine led 23-15 en route to a 48-37 victory.
“Our girls played their proper spacing — they were playing the passing lanes a lot better and rotating in the zone, making sure we protected the backside,” Baker said. “We put a lot of pressure on the ball, making it difficult, and (we) squeezed the middle.”
With that defense came plenty of Canton turnovers, because Palestine was clogging the passing lanes. That created a lot of opportunities for the Palestine offense to do what it does best: Run.
The entire Ladycat comeback was predicated on strong defense into transition offense, with Dana Whitehead and Paradyse Page leading the way.
Whitehead had 14 of her game-high 22 points in the first half, a half where she didn’t miss a shot inside the three-point line.
“It’s a big confidence-boost for them, because if they work hard on defense that’s where we’re good, when we’re in transition, especially off of defense where we can get those turnovers and get up the floor,” Baker said. “It gives them a lot of confidence because it gets them in their natural setting.”
But, while Whitehead is the team’s unquestioned leader and its leading scorer, the success of the team doesn’t really depend on her, as evidenced Tuesday.
Whitehead had six of Palestine’s seven points in that first quarter, but things really began to click when she got some help.
Page had four points in that second quarter alone, and finished with 14. Meanwhile, the play of post players Sabrina Rogers and Breana Jackson kept possessions alive and gave the Ladycats a much need presence down low.
That duo combined for 14 rebounds, nine of them offensive on the night, while Rogers finished with five points and Jackson had three in very solid minutes.
“For this year to be successful, that’s where the work is going to have to be done,” Baker said. “If we can get rebounding from them and we can get some scoring from them...it’s going to help us out tremendously.”
CAYUGA 73, Leon 41
Madison Spears nearly outscored Leon all by herself, leading the Cayuga girls’ basketball team to an easy, 73-41 win over the Lady Cougars Tuesday.
Spears finished with 30 points in the victory, while Madyson Gunnels had 18 for Cayuga (6-2).
Danielle Anderson had a double-double with 10 points and 11 rebounds, and Kylee Cross filled up her own stat-sheet, finishing with eight points, nine assists and five steals in the victory.
Cayuga travels to Central Heights beginning Thursday to open play in the Blue Devils’ tournament, where the Ladycats open with Wells at 4:30 p.m.
SLOCUM 56, LaPoynor 41 (Monday)
The second-ranked Slocum girls’ basketball team scored 26 fourth-quarter points while holding LaPoynor to only three, turning what had been intriguing matchup of top-10 teams into a Monday-night blowout.
Heading into the final quarter down eight, Slocum exploded behind the hot hand and ran away with a 56-41 win over the eighth-ranked Lady Flyers.
Larkin finished with a game-high 32 points, including seven made three-pointers. Landry Lane had 12 points, all on three-point shots, while Jordan Ives added eight and Brice Sizemore four.
The unbeaten Lady Mustangs (14-0) are off until Tuesday, when they host Tyler All Saints, with games beginning with subvarsity action at 4 p.m.
H.S. BOYS BASKETBALL
PALESTINE 74, ELKHART 62
Despite trailing by six at halftime, the Palestine boys’ basketball team came out firing on all cylinders in the second half Tuesday, outscoring Elkhart 45-27 in the final two quarters for a 74-62 win in Elkhart.
Tony Butler led a balanced Palestine offense with 15 points, while both Gee Clark and Shumauri Scott added 13 in the victory.
Ben Luckett had seven points for Palestine in the win, while Marquis Clark added six.
For Elkhart, Jacob Cheatham had a game-high 25 points, while Cole Bridges hit four three-pointers for his 12-point night.
Both Brian Johnson and Chance Chapman finished with eight points and Luke Hollingsworth added seven in the loss.
Palestine travels to Neches Friday to take on the Tigers, with games beginning at 5 p.m.
Elkhart (3-6) heads to Tyler Friday to take on All Saints. Subvarsity play begins at 6 p.m.
CAYUGA 79, Central 70
Chandler Rigdon had his best game of the season, leading the second-ranked Cayuga boys’ basketball team to a 79-70 win on the road against Central Pollok Tuesday.
Rigdon had 24 points to lead the injury-hit Wildcats, while Preston Anderson added 20 in the victory.
Brained Walthall added 13 points in the win, while Deon Shofner had seven and D’onte Jackson added five.
Cayuga (4-2) opens play in the Central Heights tournament at noon Thursday, when they again take on Central.
WESTWOOD 67, Brownsboro 59
The Westwood boys’ basketball team jumped out early on visiting Brownsboro and held on late, earning a 67-59 win despite being outscored 40-35 in the second half.
L.J. Hutchison led a balanced Westwood attack that saw four players score in double-figures. Hutchison had 17, while Sam Carlisle, Josh Denby and Chris Thompson each had 11.
Dra Ross had seven as well in the win, which moved Westwood to 8-4 on the year.
The Panthers host Grapeland Friday in their final tune-up before district play begins. Games begin with junior varsity action at 5 p.m.
Coaches or team representatives are encouraged to call in scores and stats to 903-729-0281 ext. 242, or to email firstname.lastname@example.org