By TONY EIERDAM
Both the Mineral Wells Lady Rams and Rams basketball teams hope to get back on the winning track today when they travel to River Oaks to face Castleberry in District 6-3A games.
The Lady Rams and Lady Lions will tip off at 6:30 p.m. at the Castleberry High School gym, while the Rams and Lions will do battle in a contest set to tip following the girls’ game at 8 p.m.
The Lady Rams (3-2) hope to end a two-game losing streak. The MWHS ladies won their first three district games before falling to Springtown a week ago and Kennedale on Friday.
Today marks the beginning of the second half of district play for the girls. In their first meeting, the Lady Rams had little trouble with the Lady Lions in a convincing 76-23 victory.
As she has all district season, Lady Rams sophomore point guard Natalie Ragland was a force offensively, scoring a game-high 21 points in the first meeting against Castleberry. Ragland is averaging 16. 2 points per game in district , has led the Lady Rams in scoring in three of five district games and has scored more than 20 points in three league contests.
However, Ragland was injured Friday at Kennedale and her status will not be known until game time today.
“Natalie has been doing a good job of driving to the hole (basket),” Lady Rams head coach Leslie Holman said. “As a result, she has either scored on layups or has drawn fouls which has gotten her to the free-throw line.
“She has also started to drive the lane and kick the ball out to our perimeter players, and that has given Riley (Bullock) and others open looks from behind the three-point line.”
The Rams (2-1) are coming off a their first 6-3A loss to first-place and state-ranked No. 2 Kennedale on Friday in what was a battle for outright first place in the district, albeit the early lead.
The Rams began the 6-3A slate with an blowout victory over Diamond Hill followed by an 83-70 win over Springtown before falling to the Wildcats on Friday.
Rams head coach Aaron Pappas said he felt his team “found its identity” just before district play when he decided the team works best defensively in man-to-man and press defenses as opposed to zones.
He felt like his pressure defense wore down the Eagles and Porcupines.
But another aspect of his team he was pleased to see has emerged in the first three games of district play.
“We needed our role players to step up in district and give us some minutes, scoring and defense, and they have,” Pappas said.
Pappas also said he thinks his team gained confidence in the loss Friday at Kennedale.
“Kennedale is a very good team and they are ranked no. 2 in the state for a reason,” he said.”But I am proud of the guys for fighting and not backing down. We just have to keep doing what we have been doing, and we can do that (today) at Castleberry.
“We are just taking district play one game at a time.”