Mineral Wells Index
By TONY EIERDAM
A pair of District 6-3A foes hook up at 6 p.m. today at Weatherford High School when the Mineral Wells Lady Rams face the Kennedale Lady Kats in a Class 3A, Region I regional quarterfinal playoff game at 6 p.m.
The winner will advance to the Region I tournament at United Spirit Arena on the campus of Texas Tech University in Lubbock and will play the winner of the Levelland/Lubbock Cooper regional quarterfinal contest.
In two Lady Rams’ losses to Kennedale (27-9) in district play, it could be argued one common occurrence led to a pair of easy victories for the state-ranked No. 6 Lady Kats.
In losses of 67-50 and 77-49, the Lady Rams kept the game close until leading scorer and rebounder, senior Sydney Shelstead, fouled out, leaving MWHS without its offensive leader.
That’s not to say if Shelstead had not fouled out the Lady Rams would have won, but the margin of victories in the two games very likely would have been much narrower.
Lady Rams head coach Ed Shelstead said not only does the team need Sydney Shelstead to stay away from foul trouble, but to beat a team like Kennedale he will need more scoring from his top outside shooter, Niya Benavides, and double-digit efforts from Kennedy Shelstead and possibly point guard Natalie Ragland.
Another factor could also be getting points from junior guard Bethany Allen, who has averaged 10 points a game in the Lady Rams’ playoff wins over Vernon and Liberty Hill.
“We have played Kennedale twice already, and they are good,” Ed Shelstead said. “They are very athletic, and I feel we do have a matchup advantage with Sydney.
“But the issue is that they put so much pressure on the ball (handler) that it is hard to get the ball to Sydney.
“In the last game we played them, it was a five-point game when Sydney fouled out in the third quarter and we lose by 29.
“We have to find a way to keep Syd on the floor, keep our turnovers to a minimum and Niya has to come through with some (three-point) shots. Niya, Sydney and Kennedy (team’s top three leading scorers) have got to step up and play.”
The key for the Lady Rams is to stop Kennedale’s two-headed monster of guard McKinley Bostad and post Autumn Williams. In the first meeting, the strategy was to put pressure on top to stop Bostad, and MWHS limited her to eight points, quite possibly her district low.
But Williams got free down low and scored a game-high 23 points, and feasted when Sydney Shelstead left the game.
In the second meeting, Sydney Shelstead dominated down low and grabbed an incredible 18 rebounds in the first half while scoring 12 points. But she also got into foul trouble and did not make it past the third quarter.
Williams and Bostad combined for just 25 points in the second meeting, but the Lady Kats demonstrated how deep they are as Travanti Downs scored 19 points and Tahnia McDaniel added 17.
Ed Shelstead will have to pick his poison when trying to figure out which Kennedale players to key on in this third meeting. Of course, and understandably, the coach would not release any strategy he will employ to try and finally beat the talented Lady Kats.
Despite the monumental task ahead of him and his team, Ed Shelstead – a first-year high school varsity head coach – is proud of team’s accomplishment of a 24-9 record and an area championship banner.
“This has been a good year and we like our record,” Ed Shelstead said. “But it couldn’t be better to be able to be with and coach your two children in high school, and to be surrounded by the other great Mineral Wells girls.
“Mineral Wells has embraced me and my family, we feel great to be here, and we also look forward to going as far as we can in the playoffs, and hopefully that will be beyond (today).”