By TONY EIERDAM
RIVER OAKS– With leading scorer and point guard Natalie Ragland still out with an injury, Mineral Wells Lady Rams head coach Leslie Holman knew other guards on the team had to”step up” and run the offense.
Senior guard Courtney Peña and junior Riley Bullock were called on to “quarterback” the Lady Rams’ offense, and after a slow start the pair engineered the MWHS offense to a convincing 67-26 win over the Castleberry Lady Lions Tuesday night in a District 6-3A game at the Castleberry High School gym.
The Lady Rams led just 6-3 after the first quarter but scored 25 points in the second period for a 31-9 halftime lead that put the game away.
“With Natalie out it made others take on more responsibilities, and Courtney and Riley responded well by handling the ball and running the offense,” Holman said. “I was kind of nervous after the first quarter with just a 6-3 lead, but we got it going in the second quarter.”
The Lady Rams’ defense also had a hand in the win as MWHS held CHS to single digits in every quarter.
“Part of the reason we got going (offensively) was our defense that created turnovers on the press,” Holman said. “We weren’t cutting their passes off in the middle, so in the second quarter I made some adjustments on the press and that allowed us to create steals and get some easy buckets off the press.”
As well as the guard play was for the Lady Rams, they also got a solid game from post Tabby Santibanez, who registered a double double with 17 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. Senior post Ashlynn Robinson also contributed underneath with eight rebounds.
The Lady Rams received another solid performance from sophomore guard Maddie Pappas, called up recently from the junior varsity, who led the Lady Rams with 20 points despite not starting.
“I thought Tabby had a good game,” Holman said. “She did a great job on defense and played well on offense and underneath the glass.
“I also thought Maddie did a nice job of going to the hole, and we got some offense out of her which pleases me as well.
“I also thought Courtney played a good game, so she was hitting her shots early and she ran the offense well.
“But Courtney and Riley stepped up and took leadership roles, and that was what I wanted to see in this game.”
Leading by three heading into the second period, Pappas got hot and scored 10 points during a 14-5 run that extended the Lady Rams’ lead to 20-8.
Bullock nailed a trey in the run, and Robinson connected on a free throw.
After Katie Rivera and Santibanez each connected on two free throws, Pappas followed with a short baseline jumper and a layup off a steal to increase the MWHS advantage to 28-8.
A put back by Carson Couger closed the first-half scoring as the Lady Rams held a comfortable 31-9 lead at the half.
In the third quarter, Santibanez made sure there would not be a Lady Lions’ comeback. She open the third-period scoring on a driving layup, added a pair of baseline jumpers and two layups and a made free throw as MWHS went on a 16-9 run in the third period to take a commanding 47-18 lead into the fourth quarter.
The Lady Rams continued to stay hot on offense as they scored 20 points in the final stanza for the win that elevates their district record to 4-2.
MWHS 6 25 16 20 – 67
CHS 3 6 9 8 – 26
MWHS – Maddie Pappas 20, Tabby Santibanez 17, Courtney Peña 10, Riley Bullock 6, Katie Rivera, 4, Carson Couger 4, Pam Hopkins 3, Kera Harrison 2, Ashlynn Robinson 1.