Sports > Schools
Upset City: Battle of district unbeatens goes to Lady Wildcats
Entering Tuesday night's game against Plano Senior, the Plano West girls' only losses this season had come against defending Class 5A State Champion Duncanville.
Add the Lady Wildcats to that ledger.
Plano (19-6, 4-0) ascended to sole possession of first place in 10-5A by defeating No. 3 state-ranked West (27-3, 3-1), 72-62, for the first time since the 2007-08 regular season finale and handing the Lady Wolves their first district loss since Jan. 21, 2011 (55-53 to Plano East).
"You don't want to say any win is bigger than another," said Lynn Meger, Plano head coach. "But this is a pretty big one. This is big for our program and the girls know it."
"Give credit to Plano because they got after our butt from the very beginning and we were content to just stand around and watch," added Don Patterson, West head coach. "We got outworked and outhustled, and you aren't supposed to win games like that."
West, which trailed most of the way, was in a 57-45 hole with 4:18 remaining.
Then, the Lady Wolves kicked into high gear. Led by junior Tyara Warren-Cox, who had 18 points and six rebounds, the team upped its defense and downed the deficit. West pulled to within 59-53 following a 3-pointer by senior Grace Horn and 61-60 with 2:23 to go after a 3-pointer by senior Devri Owens, who scored 16 points. Owens put another trifecta up with less than a minute remaining and the team trailing, 64-62, but it was offline.
Plano responded with an 8-0 run that included a technical foul on Patterson.
Senior Grace Mitchell and sophomore Kara Mitchell were big players in that surge as the older sibling finished with a game-high 20 points and 11 rebounds while the younger sister accounted for 16 points.
"Those two girls and Wilma (senior Afunugo) and Haley (senior Wray), they really carried us tonight," Meger said. "And (junior) Haley Shearer too; she played great defense."
Afunugo's line included 16 points and 10 rebounds while Wray scored 14, including multiple free throws in the final minute, and grabbed 10 boards.
Plano finished the night with a 41-22 rebounding advantage over West.
"We were pretty hungry," Meger said, "and we've got some girls that can jump."
"That's another thing where it comes back to defensive intensity for us," Patterson added.
Plano's control of the boards was apparent from the onset as the Lady Wildcats got out to a 12-3 lead thanks to an and-1 from Grace followed by a steal and layup from the game's leading scorer. The home team continued to attack the basket while West settled for outside looks.
"Yeah, we were shooting a lot of threes," Patterson said. "That's something we've been doing a lot lately."
Following Plano's big start, the ebbs and flows continued throughout the half with six straight points by Warren-Cox jumpstarting a 13-3 West close to the first quarter. But the Lady Wolves' 16-15 lead wouldn't last as the Lady Wildcats scored the first nine points of the second to establish a 32-28 advantage at the break.
"We played well, played together and didn't let adversity get to us tonight," Meger said. "We didn't let our turnovers lead to multiple points because that's what West can do; they can put together 10 straight points just like that."
West took its first lead since the end of the first quarter at 35-34 in the third following a steal and layup by Horn. The lead changed hands three more times in the frame with Wray burying a 3-pointer with 2 seconds remaining to give Plano a 46-41 lead.
That cushion expanded to as many as 12 before West's feverish push at the end.
That surge, however, fell short as Plano beat West, 72-62, for the first time in nearly five years.
"The girls know what is expected of them," Patterson said. "So we'll see how they respond."
West hosts East at 7:30 p.m. Friday while Plano is on the road against Allen at 6 p.m.
"We'll enjoy this one tonight," Meger said. "But then we have to go against a tough Allen team and our girls know that in this district you have to show up and play in every gym in every game."