By TONY EIERDAM
At this point of the season in the high school basketball playoffs, with every team still alive either a district champion or a team that has won a playoff game, it is very important to have all the bullets in the gun firing, and firing in sync.
The Mineral Wells Lady Rams hope to get the same result as they did in their playoff-opening win against Vernon when they face Liberty Hill today in the area (second round) playoffs.
Tip off between the Lady Rams and Lady Panthers will be at 6:30 p.m. today at Hamilton.
The Lady Rams saw four players reach double figures in scoring three days ago in their 67-44 win over Vernon in the bi-district playoffs.
Senior guard Niya Benavides led the team with 19 points, and senior post Sydney Shelstead cleaned up on the boards with a game-high 16 rebounds, which included 13 first-half boards, to go along with 11 points.
Freshman point guard Natalie Ragland continued to dish out her share of assists, but she also scored 12 points against Vernon. And defensive specialist Bethany Allen also showed her offensive side with 13 points.
But every Lady Ram contributed at one time or another in the win, particularly on the defensive side, and Lady Rams head coach Ed Shelstead said that is a quality a team has to have in the postseason.
“We need to continue to share the ball and score as a team; everyone needs to be involved,” he said. “Teams win games, and every single one of us has an impact on the outcome of our games.”
Although Liberty Hill (16-15) was a Class 3A state finalist last year, it has lost seven seniors from that team. This year, the Lady Panthers trotted out five new starters to begin the season, yet they still won District 8-3A with an 8-2 mark.
Liberty Hill is led offensively by post Maddie Metzger, who in 10 district games averaged 14 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Wing Erin FitzGerald has averaged nearly seven points per contest, and she leads the team in three-pointers with 52.
But the Lady Panthers are not completely healthy as point guard Shelby Whitten, leader in assists and second on the team in treys with 40, will miss the playoffs due to an injury.
Defensively, guard Cora Dixon leads the Lady Panthers with 3.1 steals per game.
“Liberty Hill was first in their district. They know how to win and compete,” Ed Shelstead said. “They will be aggressive, physical, and determined.
“We have to match their competitive spirit, our girls will need to impose their will and fight. Our toughness will determine what happens because they will be ready.
“Turnovers, rebounds and making free throws will determine who advances.”
Ed Shelstead feels his team struggled offensively against Vernon and can play at a higher level offensively.
“Offensively, we really did not shoot the ball well against Vernon, and that has to improve against Liberty Hill,” Ed Shelstead said. “I bet we missed 10 layups, but Vernon was a physical team that worked hard, and they forced us to be uncomfortable on offense.
“Most of our points came in transition, and Niya hit some big threes in the third quarter.
“Offense was a struggle for us, most of the shots weren’t falling, and hopefully we will shoot better (today) against Liberty Hill.”
The Lady Rams also hope to duplicate the defensive formula that helped the offense against Vernon.
“We tried to mix it up defensively against Vernon, and our defense helped us get a big lead early,” Ed Shelstead said. “We were hustling, and everyone was in control but at the same time aggressive.
“Our defense in the first quarter was very good, and we pretty much maintained through the rest of the game.
“We hope to have that same effort (today).”
By TONY EIERDAM
- Local Sports
Boswell bumps Lady Rams soccer from playoff contention
The Mineral Wells Lady Rams soccer team dropped to 5-7-1, Monday night, after a 1-0 loss at the hands of the Boswell Pioneers in Ram Stadium.
Lady Rams run away with district opener vs. Castleberry, 16-2
While the rest of Mineral Wells ISD was relaxing on spring break, the Mineral Wells Lady Rams were going to work. In their District 6-3A opener, Tuesday night, at Kessler Field, the Lady Rams demolished the rival Castleberry Lady Lions, 16-2, in just four-and-a-half innings, bringing their season record to a glowing 17-5.
The weather wasn't the only thing heating up, Monday afternoon. The Mineral Wells Lady Rams (16-5) were simply on fire in both phases of the game as they crushed the Graham Lady Blues, 10-0, in five innings at Kessler Field.
Protecting their home turf
After finishing the first day of the Mineral Wells Tournament a perfect 3-0, the Mineral Wells Lady Rams (15-4) were back in action Friday with a double-header to close out the home portion of the tourney.
Rams shine at Brock Tournament
BROCK – The Mineral Wells Rams (9-6) had a strong showing at the Brock Tournament, Thursday and Friday, as they continued to lay a firm foundation for the rest of their season.
After over a month of speculation, the Ram faithful have a new leader in which to place their hope.
Friday night, the Mineral Wells ISD Board of Trustees announced their decision to hire Waco Midway's Co-Offensive Coordinator Gerald Perry as the new Athletic Director and head football coach of Mineral Wells High School.
The Mineral Wells Lady Rams (14-3) got everything they hoped for and more in the opening day of the Mineral Wells Tournament, Thursday, at Kessler Field. They swept the competition in a triple-header and dealt with a wide variety of situations, overcoming each.
Gordon, Strawn fill up all-district hoops teams
The All-District 17-1A-II teams for both boys and girls basketball have been announced and rivals Gordon and Strawn have left an indelible mark on the 2013-24 edition with the two schools combining for six players on the boys team and a whopping 11 girls receiving honors.
Lady Rams Softball begins MW Tourney
Hot off of a 5-1 showing at the Wichita Falls Tournament, the Mineral Wells Lady Rams softball team (11-3) will open tournament play against quality competition again today from the comfort of their own home.
Four Ladycats garner top 11-1A-I awards
Palo Pinto County's most successful basketball team of the 2013-14 season can now add a bushel of accolades to an already memorable, Regional Championship year.
- More Local Sports Headlines
- Boswell bumps Lady Rams soccer from playoff contention