By TONY EIERDAM
It would be very easy for both the Mineral Wells Lady Rams and Rams basketball teams to be looking ahead at Friday’s games at Springtown, games that will have a difference in shaping the upper echelon of the District 6-3A standings.
But there is business in Fort Worth to take care of first as the Lady Rams and Rams travel to Diamond Hill High School to face the Lady Eagles and Eagles.
The girls’ game will tip off at 6:30 p.m. with the boys’ contest to follow at 8 p.m.
The Lady Rams are coming off a 60-35 win over Lake Worth and have built a 5-2 district mark. A win today at Diamond Hill will set up a game for second place Friday at Springtown.
Lady Rams head coach Leslie Holman finally had the luxury of having all of her starters healthy for the Lake Worth game.
In a previous contest at Castleberry, Holman had two starters out, and for two weeks previous to that she was without starting sophomore forward Ashley Valdez. Valdez, who provides scoring and another underneath presence to go along with senior post Ashlynn Robinson.
“It was nice to see everybody back out there,” Holman said. “The girls knew it was a big game and they came ready to play. I thought everyone on the team did a really good job.”
Holman said she does not feel her team will be looking ahead to Friday, especially with just three games remaining in 6-3A play. The Lady Rams handled the Lady Eagles easily, 80-6, in the first meeting.
“This is a big game for us because a loss would knock us down in the standings,” she said. “If we can win this one, Friday will be a huge game.”
The 4-1 Rams will be entering the second half of district play. The Rams ran past the Eagles, 84-47, in the district opener.
A win today will set up the Rams for a key game Friday at Springtown. The Porcupines, a game behind the Rams in the standings, will look to knot up second place. The Rams can pretty much clinch second place with a win Friday, providing they win today at Diamond Hill.
Rams head coach Aaron Pappas said his team learned a lesson a week ago when it may have taken Castleberry lightly as the Lions started out with 27 first-quarter points and held a 29-point lead in the third quarter before the Rams pulled off a remarkable comeback to win by three points.
Not only did Pappas say the comeback will help the team’s confidence that it can win in any situation, but he also said it served as a “wake-up call” for the team that it cannot take any district team lightly
The Rams responded after the Castleberry game by jumping out to a 25-11 lead Friday against Lake Worth and by scoring 45 first-half points.
“I think we learned a lesson at Castleberry,” Pappas said. “We are now in our ‘take it one game at a time’ mode as we enter the second half of district.”
The Eagles will have to focus on the Rams’ leading scorer, junior guard Biren Clardy, who is averaging 22.2 points per game in district play with a high game of 31.
Of course, focusing on Clardy opens it up for three-point specialist Nick Wendt, and it puts less pressure on the MWHS posts.
One post who has stepped up his play recently is sophomore Broderick Johnson, who scored a season-high 18 points against Lake Worth while pulling down seven rebounds.
“Broderick has gotten better every game,” Pappas said. “He is starting to score for us and his rebounding is improving, and he is doing all of the things we have asked him to do from the beginning of the season.”