MINERAL WELLS —
By TONY EIERDAM
As the first three games of the girls’ District 6-3A season has played out there is one thing almost certain in the league: the top three teams are Mineral Wells, state-ranked No. 2 Kennedale and Springtown, and these three teams over the course of the final seven league games will more than likely jockey themselves in position for the three playoff spots.
Big Game Jockeying No. 2 in the district will be tonight when the 3-0 Lady Rams (19-5 overall) face 2-1 Springtown at 6:30 p.m. at Springtown.
In the first district “big game,” Kennedale had little trouble in an 86-16 rout of Springtown, but the Lady Porcupines were also playing without two of their best players, Brooklyn Dauenhauer and Becca Dauenhauer.
In the night cap, the Mineral Wells Rams will try to go to 2-0 in district play when they tip off at 8 p.m. against the Porcupines.
Lady Rams head coach Ed Shelstead feels the Dauenhauer sisters will be fully recovered and ready for today’s contest.
“Springtown has been sitting out two of their players because they have been injured, but they will be ready to play us,” he said. “We will have to contain the two sisters.
“We have to play solid defense, block out and rebound. We also will need to keep our heads and not get frustrated. Whatever happens, it only matters that we win by one point.
“It will be a dog fight. The people who follow Springtown know they have two or three real solid players that we are going to have to account for. It is not going to be an easy game.
“Our girls will have to grow up a little and not get frustrated if they get down. If we execute we will be fine.”
The Lady Rams have been a scoring machine of late, putting up 264 points in their first three 6-3A games for an average of 88 points per contest.
But despite the large offensive numbers, it will be defense that may be the key to this matchup.
“We worked on a couple of things Friday (in the Lady Rams’ win over Diamond Hill) to get ready for Springtown,” Shelstead said. “Again, this will be a dog fight.”
The Rams (11-12, 1-0) are coming off a come-from-behind win in the boys’ 6-3A opener Friday at Diamond Hill.
The Rams trailed for much of the first three quarters, but outscored the Eagles 26-8 in the fourth quarter – including an 18-0 run to begin the quarter – to make a rout of a close game in the 64-43 win.
MWHS demonstrated a quality against Diamond Hill that was a key ingredient last year when the Rams ran the table in the second half of district play that led to a league championship – full-court, pressure defense.
Diamond Hill could not keep up with the Rams in the fourth quarter as the MWHS defenders literally wore down the Eagles, who committed turnover after turnover which led to easy baskets as the Eagles failed to handle the pressure defense.
“Our pressure got to them a little in the first half, but in the second half we turned it up a notch,” Rams head coach Aaron Pappas said. “They couldn’t handle our full-court pressure and turned the ball over a lot, and that led to layups for us.
“We really didn’t shoot the ball well, but (Friday) defense is what won us the game. I have not been able to say that in a long time.”
Pappas is hoping the Diamond Hill game will start the same trend as last year when the Rams became a hard team to play after employing baseline-to-baseline pressure defense and a run-and-gun offense.
But the Rams also possess a power game down low. Senior posts Ricky Scott and A.J. Williams each turned in doubles doubles on Friday as the pair combined for 32 points and 27 rebounds.
“Ricky and A.J. played big for us,” Pappas said. “Those two dominated in the paint.
“They rebounded on both ends and scored underneath.
“They were a big part of what we did, and we will need that to continue (today at Springtown).”
Pappas was also glad to see his team handle a road game with a loud environment, something both coaches expect today at Springtown.
“It was a loud and hostile environment at Diamond Hill, and I thought our kids handled it well,” Pappas said. “I expect the same at Springtown.”