By TONY EIERDAM
KENNEDALE – For three quarters, the Mineral Wells Lady Rams showed they can play with the Kennedale Lady Kats, the third-ranked team in the state and undefeated District 6-3A champions.
Although the Lady Rams fell in the girls’ district finale, 77-49, they demonstrated they are a much-improved team from the last time these two teams met.
However, as in the first meeting, when MWHS senior post Sydney Shelstead fouled out the Lady Rams could not find their offense as the Lady Kats cruised to their 10th district win.
Shelstead finished with 12 points and did not foul out until there were 36 seconds left to play in the third quarter.
But the 6-1 senior, who grabbed 18 first-half rebounds but did not collect a board in the second half as she tried to stay away from that fifth foul, helped keep her team in the game.
The Lady Rams finish district play with a 6-4 record and in third place, and will play the second-place team from District 5-3A ,Vernon, in the bi-district playoffs.
“With (junior guard) BB (Bethany Allen) being sick and unable to play, once Syd picked up her fourth foul in the third I didn’t feel we had any choice but to ride it out,” Lady Rams head coach Ed Shelstead said. “Unfortunately, Syd did not last as long as we needed her to.
“It was a five-point ball game when she was sent out and you saw what happened after that.
“All of our players need to raise their level of play as we move into the playoffs.
“We will have to be ready to respond to adversity with cool heads, everyone must understand what is necessary or it will be a short venture.
“The girls must come together and understand, embrace, and execute the game plan.”
The Lady Rams held the lead briefly in the opening period.
Sydney Shelstead it a free throw and scored on a layup to tie the game at 3-3, after Kennedale post Autumn Williams scored on a layup, Kennedy Shelstead connected on a three-point bucket to give the Lady Rams a 6-5 lead.
After that, it was the McKinley Bostad show. The high-regarded guard, who really was not much of a scoring factor the first time these two teams met, scored nine of the Lady Kats’ next 20 points as Kennedale led 25-17 after the first period.
Sydney Shelstead scored 10 points in the quarter, with sophomore sister Kennedy adding five.
The Lady Rams stayed with Kennedale in the second quarter.
A pull-up jumper from inside the lane by point guard Natalie Ragland cut the Lady Kats’ lead to 29-23, but after a Kennedale basket Sydney Shelstead picked up her third foul with 3:16 remaining.
Shelstead stayed in the game, and soon thereafter grabbed her 18th rebound of the opening half as she dominated the paint.
The Lady Rams ended the second-period scoring when Sydney Shelstead connected on a pair of free throws and Ragland added a point from the line as the Lady Rams cut Kennedale’s lead to 35-28 at the half.
MWHS started out as the aggressors in the third period. Courtney Peña and Niya Benavides each scored on put backs to cut the Lady Kats’ lead to 35-32.
A pair of buckets by Williams extended the lead to 40-32, but Peña came back and scored on consecutive layups to cut the lead to 40-36 with just more than three minutes left in the third.
But Kennedale showed why it is one of the top teams in the state, stealing the ball in the backcourt on three consecutive MWHS possessions and converting each into layups to increase the lead to 49-37.
The Lady Kats extended their lead to 16 points before Sydney Shelstead was charged with her fifth foul. Kennedale followed with an 18-4 run to put the game away.
By TONY EIERDAM
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