By TONY EIERDAM
With a new coach, new players and a new system, it may take a few games for the 2013-14 Mineral Wells Lady Rams basketball team to grow an identity.
Growing pains were evident Tuesday night in the Lady Rams’ opener at home against the Vernon Lady Lions as last-minute MWHS turnovers spelled doom for the Lady Rams in a 55-53 loss to the Lady Lions.
The Lady Rams will have a tournament this weekend to sort things out. MWHS will play at the Lady Spartan Classic at Burleson Centennial High School.
MWHS’ first game in the bracket-style tournament will be at 1:30 p.m. in the main arena against Waco Midway. Win or lose, the Lady Rams will play at 11 a.m. Friday. The rest of the game times will be depending on the outcome of Friday’s contest. The championship game is set for 2 p.m. on Saturday.
New Lady Rams head coach Leslie Holman, who has only had an entire squad to work with for less than a week due to volleyball playoffs, knows the team is a work in progress.
“There were some spurts where we had some good things going on, but we made too many mental errors and had too many turnovers,” she said. “We didn’t block out well ... just little things we have to work on that are fixable. We just have to work harder to fix them.”
A huge positive was the play of all-district, returning sophomore guard Natalie Ragland, who led the Lady Rams with 21 points, nine steals and six assists while also pulling down six rebounds.
Returning guard Courtney Peña also scored in double figures with 13 points.
Another bright spot was seeing the return of guard Megan Powell, who has not played basketball since the 2011-12 season due to an injury.
In a game that saw 11 tie scores and 10 lead changes, the game was tied at 50-50 with 1:55 left to play after a jumper from the lane by returning guard Pam Hopkins.
Vernon scored on its next possession and then forced an MWHS turnover. But a hustling Peña stole the ball from an unsuspecting Vernon ball handler and cruised down the right side for a layup that tied the game, 52-52, with a minute left to play.
Vernon hit a pair of free throws on its ensuing trip down the floor for a 54-52 advantage, and the game looked bleak for the Lady Rams following another turnover.
However, a huge defensive rebound from Tabby Santibanez gave the Lady Rams new hope. But that hope quickly disappeared with another turnover, after which MWHS was forced to foul.
Vernon missed the first charity shot but canned the next, however, the officials charged the Lady Lions with a lane violation which wiped out the free throw which kept it a one-basket game.
On the Lady Rams’ following possession, Peña was fouled and hit one of two free throws to cut the Vernon lead to 54-53 with 18 ticks left on the clock.
But a “mental mistake”cost the Lady Rams dearly as they did not foul the Lady Lions until there were three seconds left to play.
Vernon hit the first free throw and missed the next as the clock ran out on the Lady Rams.
“Our offense had been struggling (in scrimmage games) and I was pleasantly surprised we put up 53 points,” Holman said. “But offense is not what worries me.
“Our defense concerns me more, allowing 55 points.
“I really want to fix the defensive part before I start worrying about the offensive part.
“But the girls hustled the entire game, and there were times where we got after it and caused some turnovers. We have been working on things like that, trying to be more aggressive on defense to cause those turnovers.
“But we just didn’t capitalize on them (Tuesday night). We made some bad decisions that led to turnovers, and if we would have capitalized on some of those steals we had ... that’s at least six points, and that would have made a difference.”
Paced by eight points by Ragland, the Lady Rams led 15-12 after the first quarter.
But Vernon outscored the Lady Rams in the second and third periods to take a 43-41 lead into the fourth quarter.
By TONY EIERDAM
- Local Sports
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.
MW boys place third, girls seventh at Ram Relays
The Mineral Wells boys and girls track teams were on full display, Saturday, in front of a hometown crowd at the Ram Relays as the varsity girls team took seventh place with 42 point and the varsity boys finished third with 90 points.
State slips away
ABILENE – It wasn't the way a community pictured their season ending.
Fresh off of a thrilling 69-65, double-overtime victory over Ira in the regional semifinals, the Graford Jackrabbits' (27-4) bid for their first trip to the state tournament since 2012 fell short Saturday afternoon with a 58-25 loss at the hands of the Water Valley Wildcats (27-5) in the Class 1A-Division II Regional Finals at Abilene Christian University's Moody Coliseum.
Weathering the storm
The 2013-14 season epitomized growth for the Mineral Wells Rams basketball team. Under the tutelage of head coach Aaron Pappas, the Rams played to a 6-4 record in District 6-3A, clinching a third place finish and a fourth-straight playoff appearance.
- More Local Sports Headlines
- Protecting their home turf