Mineral Wells Index
By TONY EIERDAM
New Mineral Wells head girls basketball coach Ed Shelstead wanted to schedule non-district games against quality opponents in order to prepare the Lady Rams for the top opponents they will face in January when District 6-3A play begins.
He specifically wants to play teams that resemble district-favorite Kennedale, and Monday night at the MWHS gym Class 5A Keller Fossil Ridge fit the bill.
Although the Lady Rams dropped a 60-51 decision, Shelstead got what he wanted from the Lady Rams’ opponent, and he was pleased with the way this team responded in certain situations.
Shelstead was particularly pleased with the way the team responded when its leading scorer and rebounder, senior post Sydney Shelstead, got into foul trouble. Shelstead was charged with her fourth foul early in the third period and did not see action for almost six minutes of that period. She would foul out with 4:36 left in the game on a call that did not sit well with the MWHS fans.
“Fossil Ridge definitely pushed us,” he said. “The good part was that Sydney gets in foul trouble and we functioned well at times without her.”
Fossil Ridge played most of the game in a full-court press. Shelstead felt his team handled it well.
“I didn’t think we did too bad against their press,” he said. “It (breaking the press) didn’t look clean all of the time, but as the season goes on and the girls are more used to where they are supposed to be it will be much easier.
“There were a couple of times where we handled it very well, and there were probably only three really bad moments. I don’t feel like their press took us out of anything (offensively).”
The Lady Rams got into a pair of early holes during the first three quarters, but each time they pulled themselves out.
The Lady Panthers began the second quarter with a 21-12 lead and extended their lead to 27-16 with 4:18 left in the half.
At that point, MWHS decided to attack the lane. Junior guard Courtney Peña scored on a layup from the right side, and after a Fossil Ridge missed shot, senior wing Niya Benavides flipped a a pass to Sydney Shelstead, who scored on a layup. Shelstead led the Lady Rams with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
After forcing a turnover, freshman point guard Natalie Ragland split the Lady Panthers’ defense and converted a layup down the middle of the lane to cut the visitors’ lead to 27-22.
The Lady Rams’ stifled their 5A opponent once again, and on their ensuing possession Shelstead drove the lane and was fouled. She nailed both free throws to cut the lead to 27-24 with 1:58 left in the half.
MWHS would close out the half on a pair of Ragland charity shots and a put back by sophomore wing Kennedy Shelstead as the Lady Rams took a 28-27 lead at the half.
MWHS had held Fossil Ridge scoreless for the last 4:18 of the second quarter.
The Lady Rams extended their lead to 33-28 after a pair of free throws by Sydney Shelstead, a layup by junior guard Bethany Allen and a charity shot from Ragland.
But Shelstead was charged with her fourth foul, and she remained on the bench for the rest of the period.
But MWHS did not fall apart. Benavides hit a three-pointer late in the quarter to tie the game, but Fossil Ridge closed out the third-period scoring with a layup to take a 44-42 lead into the fourth quarter.
However, Shelstead was charged with her fifth foul with 5:22 left to play.
The Lady Panthers hit both free throws to extend the lead to seven points and never looked back.
FRHS 21 6 17 16 – 60
MWHS 12 16 14 9 – 51
MWHS – Sydney Shelstead 13, Natalie Ragland 11, Courtney Peña 9, Niya Benavides 8, Bethany Allen 4, Kennedy Shelstead 4; Ashlynn Robinson 2.