Wise County Messenger

Runaway rally

Alvord overcomes cold start, routs Chico in 13-2A finale

HEAVY PRESSURE — Alvord’s Katie Slaten and Caydence Watts work to trap Chico’s Kaylie Simmons in a District 13-2A matchup Monday. Alvord defeated Chico 57-34. MICAH MCCARTNEY/WCMESSENGER

HEAVY PRESSURE — Alvord’s Katie Slaten and Caydence Watts work to trap Chico’s Kaylie Simmons in a District 13-2A matchup Monday. Alvord defeated Chico 57-34. MICAH MCCARTNEY/WCMESSENGER

With Wise County leading scorer Rachae Fowler unavailable, the Alvord Lady Bulldogs needed someone else to step up Monday.

In the rescheduled District 13-2A finale, Alvord trailed Chico by 7 in the first 5 minutes of the game.

Alvord stepped up its play late in the first quarter, and never looked back. Seniors Katie Slaten and Laney Mitchell combined for 29 points to spoil Chico’s Senior Night, 57-34.

Chico (8-21) fell to 1-10 in league play. Alvord (22-11) — ranked No. 21 in 2A — improved to 9-3.

“Any time one of your senior leaders misses a game, it’s very concerning,” said Alvord coach Stewart Richards. “It really hurt that she wasn’t able to be with us tonight. However, being the leader that she is, Rachae reached out to her teammates before the game and really encouraged them to get the win. That really speaks of the team-first mentality we’re trying to instill in our program.

“Obviously we started out slow tonight because we were asking some of the girls to take on different roles with Rachae being out. But once we got into the flow of things, I was very pleased with how we played. We attacked the basket relentlessly.”

The rivalry bout between the two teams was physical with 40 fouls called. Alvord took advantage of their shots from the charity stripe, hitting 24 of 30 chances.

Chico took an early 10-3 lead, forcing the Lady Bulldogs to call timeout. Alvord closed the opening quarter with a 6-0 advantage.

Alvord took its first lead on a pair of Caydence Watts free throws. The Lady Bulldogs built a 23-16 lead at halftime.

Mitchell and Slaten went to work out of the break. Slaten scored 13 of her 15 points in the second half, while Mitchell amassed 10 of her 14, fueling a 34-18 second-half drive.

Alvord claimed the second seed in 13-2A. The Lady Bulldogs’ bi-district game will be played Monday or Tuesday.

“Looking at the postseason, I really like our chances,” Richards said. “Even in our district losses, we’ve had really solid offensive production. Defensively, there’s a few things we need to get fixed this week to prepare. We just need to get 5 percent better each day, get healthy and rested and we’ll be good to go.”

Chico senior Kaylie Simmons scored 18 points in her final game. Junior Carson Matlock added five.

Limited to just seven active players, Chico coach Todd Matlock said Alvord’s depth was a difference-maker.

“It helps when you’ve got a full bench of subs that are really good players just like your starters are,” Matlock said. “They wore us out by subbing in three to five girls at a time. Even though we had the early lead, I felt that by the third quarter, the pressure they put on us would come around to bite us.

Having been eliminated from postseason, the Lady Dragons traveled to Lindsay for their 13-2A finale Tuesday.

“I think we really improved from the start of the year,” Matlock said. “Bri Hernandez and Makayla Hedrick are juniors, but they sat out their sophomore seasons due to knee injuries. I felt they both were behind the eight-ball coming into the season, but they really stepped it up and impressed me.

“We’re going to miss Kaylie next season as she leaves us, but we’ll still have Carson for another year. We’ll need to make up Kaylie’s scoring somewhere. I don’t usually like having freshmen on the varsity, but Carly Salazar did really well this season. She’ll be a big piece for us next year.”

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