MINERAL WELLS —
By TONY EIERDAM
For the Mineral Wells Lady Rams, simply winning Tuesday night’s District 6-3A home game against Castleberry was not a surprise.
But for fans of the Lady Rams – particularly those who struggled watching last year’s seven-win team – the 95-17 victory over the Lady Lions represented an achievement probably nobody in local basketball circles thought was possible this year.
The victory was the 20th this season for the Lady Rams.
Paced by a near triple double by freshman point guard Natalie Ragland – who finished with nine points, nine rebounds and nine assists – the Lady
Rams raised their district record to 4-2. The team is 20-7 overall.
Lady Rams head coach Ed Shelstead continually comments on how well he feels his point guard is progressing.
“When you are passing the ball the way Natalie does everyone gets involved,” he said. “Natalie has always been a great rebounder, and she is our third or maybe second leading rebounder.
“I asked Natalie in the middle of the game to start looking for her offense because down the road we will need her to shoot.
“She is a freshman, but she is getting better every game. I am just proud that she is on my team.”
Another important aspect of the victory was getting back in the win column after suffering consecutive defeats to district-leading Kennedale and rival Springtown.
“It does feel good to get back in the win column,” Shelstead said. “It brings us to 20 wins on the season, and we have to be proud about that.
“But make no mistake – we are preparing for the competition we have coming our way (in the second half of district play and playoffs). We have to continue to get better.
“We are not going to be happy with playing just one playoff game. We are in it for the long haul.”
Four players reached double figures in scoring, led by sophomore Kennedy Shelstead with 22 points. Sydney Shelstead added 21 points, with Niya Benavides finishing with 16 and Bethany Allen scoring a season-high 14 points.
The Shelsteads and Benavides combined for 19 of the Lady Rams’ 25 first-quarter points. MWHS also scored on five easy layups off steals, with Kennedy Shelstead scoring after a pair of steals, and Ragland and Allen also driving in for layups after swiping the ball. Another layup was scored by Pamela Hopkins after a nifty steal from Benavides.
A put back by junior post Ashlynn Robinson, who finished with six points, gave MWHS a 25-6 lead after the opening period.
The Lady Rams went off in the second quarter and scored 31 points, but they were actually better defensively as Castleberry did not score a single point in the period.
Sydney Shelstead, who finished with 10 rebounds, dominated the glass in the period while scoring seven points three different ways – at the free throw line, on a put back and with a three-pointer as the Lady Rams led 56-6 at the half.
Kennedy Shelstead took over in the third quarter. She was a force driving the lane, hitting five layups, three of which came on passes from Ragland.
Allen also had three driving layups, twice after steals and another after a feed from Ragland.
The Lady Rams took an 83-11 lead into the fourth quarter and backed off offensively for the rest of the game.
In sub-varsity action, the Lady Rams junior remained undefeated in district play after a 67-8 win over Castleberry, and the Lady Rams freshman team strolled to a 42-13 win.
CHS 6 0 5 6 – 17
MWHS 25 31 27 12 – 95
MWHS – Kennedy Shelstead 22, Sydney Shelstead 21, Niya Benavides 16, Bethany Allen 14, Natalie Ragland 9, Ashlynn Robinson 6, Pam Hopkins 4, Riley Bullock 3.