MIDLOTHIAN — While cold weather and icy conditions moved Friday’s scheduled Waxahachie-Midlothian matchup to Saturday at Midlothian High School Arena, two of Ellis County's three 5A teams looked to improve their standing in the district.
One was eager to move within striking range of No. 2 Mansfield Summit High School and the other to rebound from a loss to No. 1 Mansfield Timberview High School.
Waxahachie topped Midlothian 51-39 Saturday at MHS Arena, using 18 points from junior point guard Diamond Atchison and 16 from junior shooting guard Jordan McGee to move into a two-way tie for third place in District 10-5A.
For almost three quarters Midlothian High School hung tough with formerly state-ranked (13-7, 3-2) Lady Indians, but a turnover-filled third quarter cost the Lady Panthers their second district victory of the season.
"We played a really great half of basketball. We were sluggish in the first half and only scored 20 points but scored 21 points in the third quarter," said Lesli Priebe, the head girls' basketball coach at Waxahachie High School. "Our second-half defense was improved, too. The girls did a good job of getting deflections and steals that lead to easy baskets on the other end of the court and causing turnovers."
Powered by the scoring of junior Sarah Williams and sophomore Savannah Glossup, who combined for 13 of the Lady Panthers 23 first-half points, and the offensive rebounding of Cristina Balderrama and Jaida Klor, Midlothian earned a slight advantage at halftime. Glossup scored all of her six points before the break and Williams hit a key second-quarter 3-pointer and two heavily-contested baskets in the first.
Klor scored four points on 4-for-4 shooting from the free throw line, Sydney Massey, who finished the game with nine points, scored four and Balderrama added two of her three points during a 6-2 run in the first quarter.
While the first half belonged to Midlothian, the second half was owned by its Ellis County counterpart.
"We're winning a lot of halves, but we haven't put four quarters together yet," said Amy Tennison, the Lady Panthers head basketball coach. "We came in passive in the third quarter. Waxahachie was able to dictate the tempo because of their defensive pressure and we didn't adjust. It took us too long to counteract what they were doing. We needed every player to have a scorer's mentality. If teams are going to press us, we're going to have to counter that with scoring."
After getting off to a slow start and trailing at the half a single basket, the Lady Indians came alive during the third quarter and sprinted to a 21-5 third quarter finish behind strong team defense and the scoring of Atchison and McGee.
Atchison scored all but six points of her total in the second half, McGee sunk a pair of corner 3-pointers and Destini Washington scored four of her 10 points in the final 16 minutes. Destiny Bobb and Sha'Quoria Thompson scored their only two points during the third quarter.
Rayna Ross added three points and finished 1-for-four from the free throw line.
"They shot really well from the 3-point line during the game and especially in the second half. We were 8-for-19 and at 42 percent," Priebe said. "When you're hitting your shots like that, you're going to have a lot of opportunities to win ball games.
"I think we're getting to the point our shooters are beginning to find their rhythm, which bodes well for us as we navigate the district schedule. It's not like rebounding, either. When you're making corrections to your form, it doesn't show up automatically. It takes a while. It's easy to get open looks when you're facing a team that runs a zone but the threat of perimeter offense can open opportunities for our post positions — the essence of the inside-outside game."
Midlothian (9-11, 1-4) will play Mansfield Lake Ridge High School at MLRHS Gymnasium and Waxahachie will defend its two-game win streak against Mansfield Legacy High School at George W. Solis Gymnasium. Both games are scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Lake Ridge's Lady Eagles (4-10, 1-4) have lost three straight district games since beating the Lady Indians on Dec. 16 and Legacy (15-8, 3-2), the No. 3 team in the district, has suffered their only two 10-5A losses to Mansfield Timberview and Summit High Schools.
"We have a lot of respect for Coach Priebe and what she does. That's a great team that was ranked in the top 25," Tennison said. "Despite the loss, my kids know they won a half. They know they can compete with every team in the district and they've proven that. Right now, it's really putting 32 minutes together for us. At three and a half quarters, we're close, though. When that happens, we're in the top 25 with the rest of the district. I have that much confidence in them."
Marcus S. Marion can be reached at (469) 517-1456. Follow him on Twitter @MarcusMarionWNI.