By CLINT FOSTER
LAKE WORTH – The Mineral Wells Lady Rams took a major step toward playoff qualification Tuesday night, earning a 46-31 statement victory on the road against the Lake Worth Ladyfrogs. The win moved Mineral Wells to 2-0 in District 6-3A play and sent a message to the rest of their opponents that this year’s Lady Ram squad is not to be trifled with.
“It was a big district win,” head coach Leslie Holman said. “That was probably the team we needed to beat to seal third place.”
The game got off to a slow start, with the score knotted at 2-2 until 4:50 left in the first quarter. But after that, the Lady Rams would never trail in the game, building a commanding lead thanks to two 7-0 runs and 67-percent shooting on free throws.
They also played some commanding defense, taking advantage of multiple Lake Worth turnovers and creating opportunities with 24 rebounds and 17 steals. The Lady Rams also closed out the game strong, holding the Ladyfrogs scoreless for the first four and a half minutes of the fourth quarter.
“The girls played really well,” Holman said. “They executed the press. They played well on offense. I’m just very proud of them.”
Junior Tabby Santibanez played strong in the first half, taking fouls and creating many of Mineral Wells’ early offensive opportunities. She totaled five points with four steals and six rebounds
But no star shone brighter than sophomore guard Natalie Ragland, who accounted for almost half of Mineral Wells’ final point total. She finished with 22 points, including a perfect 10-for-10 from the charity stripe, and collected five rebounds, eight steals and two assists. Ragland could have easily registered double-digit assists if more shots had fallen, as she played unselfishly and was finding teammates open all night.
Ragland also provided an exclamation point for the victory when she nailed a half-court shot at the buzzer to end the third quarter.
The Mineral Wells faithful – who outnumbered Lake Worth fans in attendance – erupted when her shot cleared the net and the girls celebrated with her as if they were headed to the Final Four.