MINERAL WELLS —
BY TONY EIERDAM
RIVER OAKS – With four newcomers to the starting lineup and a new head coach, the Mineral Wells Lady Rams made a statement in the District 6-3A opener here Friday night.
Paced by 27 points and 11 rebounds by senior newcomer Sydney Shelstead, and 24 points from Niya Benavides – the lone returning starter off of last year’s three-win (in district) team – the Lady Rams crushed Castleberry, 87-18, to not only win the district opener but send a message to the rest of 6-3A that this is not your last year’s Mineral Wells girls basketball team.
“It was a nice win in a district opener with me being a first-year coach in the district and the team with a bunch of players playing for the first time in this district,” Lady Rams head coach Ed Shelstead said. “Obviously, we wanted to start district off good and play strong.
“The best part about this game was there were kids who needed a lot of floor time and got it.
“Sydney and Niya had fun, and it was good to see them smiling out there. Frankly, we have been too uptight (before and at the beginning of games), and I have been talking a lot to them about having a good time on the court.
“This was a great district opener for that.”
It was a game that saw the Lady Rams (17-5, 1-0) bolt out to a 12-2 lead early in the contest and lead 46-11 at the half.
The MWHS ladies also put on a defensive show, allowing zero points in the third quarter. In fact, the Lady Rams’ defense was so smothering that it held the Lady Lions scoreless for a span of 11:50 from late in the second quarter until early in the fourth period.
Shelstead was also able to play his sophomore guards – Pamela Hopkins and Riley Bullock – for most of the second half.
Junior guard Courtney Peña also saw significant minutes and parlayed her playing time into an 11-point effort.