Basketball: Lady Texans move into second

By Richard Greene | Published Wednesday, January 28, 2015
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After starting District 5-6A with a pair of losses, the Northwest Lady Texans looked to be fighting an uphill battle to get into the playoff race.

But now, with five games left in the regular season including Tuesday’s night’s game with Keller Central, the Lady Texans are tied for second place in the league with a firm grip on a postseason berth.

They knocked off Denton Guyer 43-39 Friday to pull even with them in the league standings. The two entered Tuesday a game ahead of Fossil Ridge and Denton Ryan.

“It was a big win,” said Northwest coach Rusty Johnson. “It followed Tuesday’s overtime win against Fossil Ridge and has us 2-0 to start the second round.”

After the win over Guyer, the Lady Texans have won seven of their last eight games with the only setback coming against 5-6A leader Keller.

“It’s really just the girls coming together collectively to play as a team at both ends of the floor, and getting tougher,” Johnson said.

Johnson points to the defense for playing a big part in the turnaround during 5-6A play. The Lady Texans shut out two opponents – Fossil Ridge and Ryan – in overtime to record wins in the recent streak.

Friday, the Lady Texans held Guyer to just five points in the final frame as they put together a 12-5 closing run to rally and get the win.

“We have some really good guards and enough shooting to compete on most nights,” Johnson said. “What had been lacking was the defensive toughness it takes to win at this level. We are short and I think we kind of used that as a reason for not getting it done at times early in the year. Our girls have now bought into the toughness and physicality it takes to win games.”

Alexus Brigham continued her recent tear against Guyer, pouring in 18 points. She went 8-for-9 from the free-throw line and 2-for-3 on the perimeter.

“Alexus has been tremendous the last four games,” Johnson said. “Her practices have been really good and that has carried over to the games. She is beginning to show more verbal leadership and certainly showing the way on the floor.

“While her offense has been really good, her defense has been tremendous. She is really getting it done on both ends.”

Maddie Dodgen and Bre Hardin had eight points each against Guyer. Equalya Smith and Dodgen pulled down five rebounds apiece.

Johnson points out that it’s been a team effort during the recent run.

“We are getting tremendous amounts of contributions from others,” Johnson said. “We have some girls who get little press because they don’t put up big numbers but are instrumental to the success right now. We have some kids doing a lot of small things that add up.

“They are working really well together right now as a team and playing hard. They are all very unselfish and understanding of their role and are doing it to the best of their abilities and with a ‘whatever it takes to win’ attitude.”

With five important games left, Johnson said his team is not getting caught up in playoff talk.

“The girls’ motivation is to win the next game,” Johnson said. “I’m blessed as a coach to have such a special group of girls and getting to watch them grow as a team. They are still extremely motivated to finish the next five games off with their best effort and we will then go from there.”

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