Variety Pack: Plethora of Plano players put up points in postseason pounding
RICHARDSON - In what would normally be a foreboding sign, Richardson Berkner (11-17) had two girls score more points than any Plano Senior player in Monday night's playoff opener from Richardson Pearce.
The Lady Wildcats (25-7), however, responded with a barrage from several players as eight girls scored at least six points and four reached double digits in a 93-62 victory.
"It can be hard to defend us if you know we have multiple ways to score on you," said Haley Wray, Plano senior.
Monday's victory marked Plano's first in the playoffs since a 72-65 bi-district win over Lake Highlands in the 2007-08 season.
"It feels awesome," Wray said as she stopped to high-five senior teammate Grace Mitchell, who added "yeah, this is great, we really played like a team tonight." Wray then jumped back in to say, "we have great team chemistry."
That chemistry was put to the test in the first three minutes as Berkner jumped out to a 10-4 lead behind eight points from Jaileen Thomas, who led all scorers with 30.
"[Thomas] is a great player," said Lynn Meger, Plano head coach. "She's one of the best guards we've faced all season and you can tell why they were successful in district. But we were able to get some early substitutions and I think that helped us calm down and not panic."
Meger's players agreed.
"We have confidence in each other," Wray said. "So, regardless of the score, even when we were down early, we wanted to keep playing at the same pace because we knew we'd get back in the game."
That occurred quickly.
Trailing, 10-4, Plano responded with an 11-1 run that included a steal and-1 from Wray to give the Lady Wildcats their first lead at 12-11. Plano's run was broken by a 3-pointer from Rachel Green, who scored 22 on the night. But therein lied the problem for the Lady Rams as Thomas and Green accounted for 84 percent of the team's points and only one other player for Berkner scored in the first three quarters.
Plano had no such concerns about balance.
The Lady Wildcats held a 21-14 lead after the first quarter and extended that to 27-14 in the second by completing a 12-0 run that was wrapped up by another and-1 from Wray, who scored 16 points.
"Haley Wray has been playing great since the last half of district," Meger said.
When Wray, who was also a menace to Berkner on defense, wasn't scoring the task went to Plano's variety of bigs. Mitchell was at the forefront of that attack with 18 points and eight rebounds, but seniors Wilma Afunugo (10 points, five rebounds), Lucy Gentry (10 points, eight boards) and junior Ogo Obinabo (six points) all got involved as well.
"We have very well-developed posts," Mitchell said. "We have the height, but we also have plenty of fight."
Many scoring opportunities were available in the second quarter as Plano forced 10 turnovers in establishing a 47-28 halftime lead that included a Mitchell layup at the buzzer off a steal.
"We were able to change our defense up," Mitchell said, "and that can really mess with the other team's offense."
More of the same was in store in the second half with Plano putting together another 12-0 run in the third quarter. This one included a basket and block from Afunugo, a steal and layup from Wray and a 3-pointer from junior Kylie Guthrie, who scored six points. Also contributing to the unrelenting Lady Wildcats' offensive attack, which gave the team a lead as big as 34 points, were senior Jenna Williams and sophomore Kara Mitchell, who each scored eight.
Plano surpassed its season-high point total by 11 with the 93-62 triumph.
"We can celebrate tonight," Grace Mitchell said. "But we know that tomorrow we have to get back to work."
Monday's playoff win comes six days after the Lady Wildcats captured a district title for the first time in 10 years.
"We just keep checking them off one at a time," Meger said. "But hopefully this is just the beginning for us; we respect all our opponents, but fear none and feel like we still have six more to go."
The next one will be Rowlett.