MINERAL WELLS —
By TONY EIERDAM
As the Mineral Wells Lady Rams reach the stretch run of the District 6-3A basketball season and the Rams enter the halfway point, the league has seemed to separate itself on both the girls’ and boys’ sides.
The Lady Rams and Rams will continue district play today at Lake Worth. The girls’ game begins at 6:30 p.m. followed by the boys’ contest at approximately 8 p.m.
In both the girls’ and boys’ standings, Kennedale is the clear-cut leader as both the Ladycats and Wildcats sport undefeated 6-3A records.
And on both sides, Mineral Wells and Springtown are battling for the second- and third-place spots. The top three finishers will qualify for the Class 3A playoffs.
Although the Springtown girls have the same 4-2 district record as the Lady Rams, the Lady Porcupines are in second place due to a win over MWHS 10 days ago.
The rematch – and a contest that probably determine which of the two teams finish second – will be a week from today in Mineral Wells.
But the Lady Rams’ opponent today, Lake Worth, sports a 3-3 district record and has a chance to get in the mix with a win today over the Lady Rams.
After Tuesday night’s win over Castleberry, Lady Rams head coach Ed Shelstead said the team was happy to get back to its winning ways after consecutive losses. The win was also the 20th this season for the Lady Rams.
Shelstead said the team is in a mode of getting better every day and will take no opponent for granted, including the Lady Frogs. In the first meeting between the two teams, the Lady Rams cruised to a 92-9 win.
“It felt good to get back in the win column (after defeating Castleberry Tuesday night),” Shelstead said. “We have now won 20 games, and we have to be proud about that.
“But make no mistake – we are preparing for the competition we have coming our way (in the second half of district play). We have to continue to get better.”
In boys’ district play, Springtown holds a one-game edge on the Rams for second place. The MWHS boys have a 2-2 mark, but Diamond Hill, Castleberry and Lake Worth, the Rams’ opponent today, are a game back at 1-3.
Like the Lake Worth girls, the Lake Worth boys can get right back in the mix with a win today.
The Bullfrogs defeated Diamond Hill on Tuesday to put 6-3A in a three-way tie for fourth place. The Rams struggled for the first three quarters with Diamond Hill in a win in the boys’ district opener.
Tuesday in a win over Castleberry, the Rams employed two different sets of lineups when head coach Aaron Pappas began with a “big” lineup that included 6-5 Jacoby Prestwood, then switched to a “small” lineup when he inserted guards Reece Tarver, Nick Wendt and Rascellis Williams, three quick guards with excellent ball-handling skills.
The strategy worked, and Pappas most likely will use the same strategy today.
“We wanted to force our will inside (early in the Castleberry game),” Pappas said. “Then we hit them with a small, quick lineup and pressed them just to mix it up.
“Every kid contributed, and defensively we were better. Our smaller group did a good job with the full-court press, and they did well trapping in the half court.
“We also improved at the free throw line. We had been struggling there as of late.”
After today’s contests, the Lady Rams will have three more district games left on the schedule. After Lake Worth, the MWHS ladies will return home Tuesday to play Diamond Hill before ending the 6-3A slate at home against Springtown (Feb. 1) and at Kennedale (Feb. 5).
The boys’ district standings will have more clarity after today, the halfway point of the 6-3A season.