MINERAL WELLS —
By TONY EIERDAM
Starting District 6-3A play with eye-popping offensive totals, the Mineral Wells Lady Rams are beginning to make a habit out of pouring on points to league opponents who enjoyed victory over last year’s squad.
The Lady Rams had three players score at least 20 points as they crushed Lake Worth, 92-9, to raise their record to 18-5 overall and 2-0 in district play.
MWHS could have easily scored more than 100 points on the Lady Frogs, but coaches decided to “run” the clock for the entire fourth quarter.
Senior post Sydney Shelstead led the Lady Rams with 28 points, while Niya Benavides and sophomore guard Pamela Hopkins each poured in 20.
The Lady Rams have now scored a combined 179 points in their first two district games.
Despite the blowout, Lady Rams head coach Ed Shelstead said the team got a lot out of the win.
“In a game like this, the girls get to feel good about what they are doing, Ed Shelstead said. “They get to enjoy each other, and they get to laugh and have fun.
“They are also reminded why they love to play this game. That’s what they got out of this game.”
The Lady Rams’ defense may have been more impressive than its offense, if that is possible.
MWHS came out with a pressure defense that created several early turnovers as MWHS led 34-2 after the first quarter.
In fact, Lake Worth did not score in the entire second half.
Shelstead applauded the defensive efforts of junior guards Bethany Allen and Courtney Peña, along with freshman point guard Natalie Ragland.
“Bethany, Natalie and Courtney work so hard, particularly on defense,” Shelstead said. “Courtney is a spark off the bench, and she is the fastest player on the court and an amazing athlete.
“BB (Allen) is a great athlete, and Natalie, for a freshman, has come so far, and we are clicking at the right time.”
At the beginning of the year, Ed Shelstead took a chance by putting sophomore guard Hopkins on varsity. His move has been validated all season, but none more so than Tuesday when she scored a season-high 20 points.
“People who have been watching us closely have noticed Pamela is getting more minutes,” Shelstead said. “I went into the game knowing that she would be my first substitute off the bench.
“We ran a couple of plays for her and she knocked down some threes. I am so happy for her. (Her current play) is what I saw at the beginning of the year when I decided to put her on varsity.
“I had no question that she has this in her. She makes us better. We needed somebody to emerge and make us better, and I think she is doing that.”
But like in all Lady Rams’ games, the outstanding players on offense were Sydney Shelstead and Benavides, MWHS’ deadly one-two punch.
Shelstead came close to a quadruple double with 28 points, 10 rebounds, six assists, and five blocked shots. Benavides, enjoying freedom on the perimeter as teams double the 6-1 post and tweaked the twine with five three-pointers.
“I don’t care who are playing, when you are putting those kind of points up you are firing as a team,” Ed Shelstead said.
Benavides helped the Lady Rams jump out to an 18-0 lead with four three-pointers. Ragland also scored on a layup following a brilliant steal, and Sydney Shelstead added four points.
The lead increased to 25-0 thanks to a pair of free throws, a put back and a trey from Sydney Shelstead, the later bucket courtesy of a perfect kick-out pass from Peña.
Shelstead returned the favor and set up Peña for a layup, then muscled her way down the middle of the lane for a layup that extended the lead to 29-0.
Hopkins scored on a put back, but with 22 seconds left in the opening period Lake Worth finally got on the board and cut the Lady Rams’ lead to 31-2.
Sophomore guard Riley Bullock closed the first-period scoring when she swished a three from the right perimeter as MWHS led 34-2.
Lake Worth began the second period with a 3-0 run before the Lady Rams’ guards took over. Peña scored on consecutive layups, and Hopkins went off by converting a layup into a three-point play and hit a pair of jumpers as MWHS increased its lead to 48-5.
The half ended with MWHS on top, 51-9, and the Lady Rams followed with 41 unanswered points in the second half.