As the CCS Lady Warriors (27-2) head into Thursday’s first-round playoff game against No. 7 Victory Christian (6-8), it appears the TCAF’s No. 1 D2 team hasn’t thoroughly shaken off a slump that included only their second loss of the season.
Coach Kayla Buchanan noted her team hasn’t been playing “Lady Warrior basketball” as Cornerstone Christian forced a tiebreaker-seeding game when they topped Community Christian in the last game of District 1 D2.
The Lady Crusaders attempted to force CCS to play outside and open up their defense. The aggressive Lady Warriors needed the basketball because their first-half shots were not falling, and the problem compounded from there resulting in a 43-32 loss.
CCS efficiently handled Cornerstone 47-38 in their first matchup but shot poorly in their last two games against the Lady Crusaders. The Lady Warriors netted 20 percent of their shots in the loss and 32 percent in the win.
Buchanan made adjustments on offense in the tie-breaking game by dropping her junior post Elaina Buchanan both high and low while freshman Kate Buchanan came in off the elbow. CCS didn’t get as much offense out of the pair as usual, but the resulting 26 rebounds between them took away Cornerstone’s second chances.
For Coach Buchanan, it was about making the right adjustments and her team finding out more about itself.
“I remind them that you cannot do it all on yourself, that we were put together with different strengths and weaknesses,” Buchanan said. “I like what my daughter Elaina (5-9) says ‘play like your six-feet tall.’ When you do, you will surprise yourself at what all you can accomplish."
The next accomplishment on the list is handling Victory Christian, and Buchanan feels the loss against Cornerstone came at the right time for her team and will serve as a wakeup call that all games are important.
At the same time, she is telling her team nothing is special.
“I spent a lot of time this year, focusing on my girls' mental aspect in basketball. Instead of saying this is a big game or an important game and you have got to make sure you rise up,” Buchanan said. “I switched and now focus on everything is important that nothing is special. Practices are just as important as the games. When we enter a game that might be challenging, I remind them that we have already dealt with it in practice and nothing is new.”
So what’s the key to taking the next step?
“I tell them the biggest difference in winning and losing is who makes the fewest amount of mistakes on that day,” Buchanan said. “I feel that that's what they did Monday night.”
The Lady Warriors enter the playoffs with three players averaging double-figure scoring with Hena Spahic’s 16.8 points per game leading the way while Emilee Reed is notching up 11.8 points and E. Buchanan has an average 10.6 points per game, and her rebounding of 13.6 boards per game is an actual double-double season average. K. Buchanan average 9.1 rebounds per contest.
Abigail Brazel, despite her short stature, has proven to be the team’s bruiser with a loose ball or possession tie-up often involving the senior player.
Tipoff is set for Thursday at 5 p.m. at the Mineral Wells City Gym.