ALVARADO, Texas — The Jaguars rolled to their second consecutive victory on Friday, knocking off Alvarado High School at AHS Gymnasium and staying within earshot of third place Glen Rose in the District 8-4A standings.
Midlothian Heritage High School (18-9, 4-3) beat the Lady Indians 49-35 and allowed only one player — sophomore Yamisile Parks — double-figure production.
"Let's just say he refreshed our memory to when we played them the first time and held them to 22 points," junior guard Emma Arnold said about her team's mid-game defense, chuckling softly at the memory of the halftime pep talk. "We knew coming out of the locker room we had to lock in and play the best defense in the second half to keep them under that. We didn't play our best defense in the first half but we fixed it in the second. Coach Hodges reassured us that we have been playing pretty hard defense this year and we can't let our it slip against Alvarado. That's what he always pushes us to do. He always impresses on us that giving 100 percent on defense rewards you on the offensive end."
Arnold and the Jaguars beat their previous mark by four and held Alvarado to 18 points in the final 16 minutes of the game.
Aside from the 13 points scored in the fourth quarter and despite contributions from junior Jaycee Brown (6 pts), sophomore Kaitlynn Woodlee (6 pts), Maria Rodriguez (3 pts) and Kenzee Barnes (2 pts), the Jaguars held Alvarado to single-digits in the remaining three. The Lady Indians mustered only five points in the third quarter.
Midlothian Heritage entered the fourth quarter after extending their 14-point lead to 21 by outscoring Alvarado 26-13 in second and third quarters — the highest mid-quarter total since they beat the Lady Indians on Dec. 13.
The Jaguars leading scorers, sophomores Jasmine Bailey and Kaylee Robinson and junior Emma Arnold, combined for 15 of their team's 17 points in the first quarter.
Despite their additions, all three girls said it's each girls knowledge of their individual role that's helped them to begin to realize their true potential.
"I think everyone has a role on our team and if everyone plays their role how we're supposed to we'll beat Stephenville and Glen Rose [High Schools]. That's the goal," Bailey said. "That and getting a higher seed — which will help a lot. From the time the season started I always thought we could be good and that we're special, we just lost a few games we should have won and that may have hurt us a little in the playoff race. If we work, listen and learn, we can still go pretty far."
Nearly every girl on the roster added points through the four quarters.
Freshman Blythe Williams scored all of her five points during a 12 point Jaguar third quarter, but she wasn't the only one chipping in much-needed contributions. Sophomores Saige Klor (6 pts), Lexi Kennedy (2 pts) and Karena Tipton (2 pts) and seniors Allie Smith (2 pts) and Kennedy Miller (1 pt) all added buckets at pivotal times Midlothian Heritage needed them most.
Robinson noted it's that unity that may ultimately decide how the season ends — whether or not in the playoffs — starting with their matchup with undefeated Godley High School.
"Our mindset from the tough loss against Glen Rose only made us realize going into our next game we need to finish teams early and that all of us need to be mentally focused so that we can do so," she said. "I think it's the same for each of us. These last couple of games I have only focused on one thing. To help my team be effective any way I could because our team is very reliant on every athlete on the court. If one of us is off, the next one steps up. It makes it hard on opponents to get ready for us."
The Jaguars will face Godley, District 8-4A's No. 1 girls' team, at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at MHHS Gymnasium. The (26-4, 8-0) Lady Wildcats, the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches No. 4 girls' 4A team, have won six straight games since falling to North Crowley High School on Dec. 29.
Marcus S. Marion can be reached at for story ideas or concerns at (469) 517-1456. Follow him on Twitter @MarcusMarionWNI.