By Richard Greene
The Decatur Lady Eagles used an hounding defense and a red-hot shooting night on the perimeter to bury Mineral Wells Tuesday and keep their perfect run through District 7-3A intact.
The Lady Eagles forced 44 Mineral Wells turnovers and hit seven three-pointers in a 78-34 road victory.
The win moved the Lady Eagles (21-5) to 6-0 in the district, and erased any memories of their lone setback in league play last year at Mineral Wells.
“This is the game we messed up last year,” said Decatur senior point guard Allie Handlon. “We took care of business this time.”
The Lady Eagles’ half-court trap made sure Mineral Wells couldn’t pull off the upset for a second straight year. Decatur forced at least seven turnovers in each frame. Mineral Wells turned the ball over 15 times in the first quarter. It lost the ball on 11 straight possessions during a 17-0 Decatur that allowed the Lady Eagles to build a 21-6 lead.
“The girls did a great job defensively,” said Decatur coach Billy Garner. “We went with the half-court trap that’s been working for us, but we didn’t want to leave number 11 [Niya Benavides] alone. She’s a good shooter. We did a good job of knowing where she was and closing out on her.”
Benavides finished with 14 points, hitting four of her nine three-point attempts.
Even with a big lead, Decatur kept the defensive intensity up for four quarters. The Lady Eagles held Mineral Wells to four field goals after halftime. Mineral Wells was scoreless the first 4:07 of the third quarter. It didn’t hit a basket until Benavides made a three-pointer with 30 seconds remaining in the frame.
Decatur opened the second half on a 14-1 run to build its largest lead, 41 points, 64-23.
Off steals, the Lady Eagles were able to score a majority of their points in transition. That’s where most of Joey Redwine’s 12 points came from. She had five steals.
Handlon made seven steals with her five points.
But the Lady Eagles didn’t have to rely on scoring in transition with their red-hot shooting on the perimeter. Starting with Murphy Graham’s three-pointer that erased Decatur’s lone deficit of the night midway through the first quarter, the Lady Eagles were 7-for-16 outside the three-point arc.
“We were shooting the ball good outside,” said Handlon, who knocked down a three-pointer in the first quarter. “We just need to learn when to shoot them.”
Amanda Delka came off the bench to hit three three-pointers in the first half. Delka finished with 13 points.
Her third three-pointer put Decatur up 38-17.
Haley Dennard buried the Lady Eagles’ seventh trey of the half as Decatur built a 50-22 halftime lead.
“Once things get flowing like that, you play more relaxed and shoot the ball better,” Garner said.
Dennard had 11 points. Graham put in 14 points, and Shelby Drews nine.
Ten Lady Eagles scored.