McKINNEY - After sweeping District 12-3A and demolishing their 11-3A bi-district opponent, the Melissa Lady Cardinals knew they were in for a tough battle against Frisco Lone Star at McKinney North High School in the area round of the Class 3A state playoffs on Feb. 13. The Lady Rangers finished third in their district, just behind state-ranked Argyle and Celina, so they were used to playing with the best.
The usually prolific Melissa offense, anchored all year by senior Whitney Taylor, fell cold in this game and was able to produce just 34 points as the team lost by eight.
"The area loss was probably the most disappointing loss I’ve ever endured as a coach because the girls played so hard, executed the game plan so well, and never quit, even though it seemed like nothing was going our way," Melissa coach Claude Webb said after the game. "They did all they could - the ball just wouldn’t go in the basket. There was no one to blame - as good a shooting team as we are, it was just an anomaly."
Despite exiting the playoffs earlier than expected, Webb looked back at a successful season with a team that will return a lot of its talent to the hardwood in Melissa next season.
"We achieved our goal of going undefeated through district again and also winning a playoff game, which none of the girls on this team had done before," Webb said. "This was a team that worked hard all year and continued to improve every game."
The Lady Cardinals were able to find success beyond their years over the course of the and is still a young team that will only lose one senior, Taylor. The Lady Cardinals will return four starters; Katie Webb, Megan Conlin, Keonni Conkle and Cat Whitten. Those four girls will be seniors and have been playing together since the fifth grade and have never lost a district game from seventh through eleventh grade. They also have six other underclassmen that lettered this year and the junior varsity squad was undefeated in district play.
Webb said he is excited about the group that will be starting its high school careers in the fall. That group of incoming freshmen never lost a game in middle school.
"Though we are losing an outstanding player in Whitney, I believe we can be even stronger next year because these girls are committed to working through the off season and we should be deeper," Webb said.
Lone Star 42, Melissa 34
The Lady Rangers held a slight advantage at the end of the first quarter and Melissa was able to cut that lead to one before the end of the first half. After the break, the Lady Cardinals were held to just six points in the third quarter and went into the fourth trailing by five.
Lone Star finished with its best quarter of the game to get the win and advance to the regional quarterfinals.
Junior Katie Webb led the team with eight points and Taylor added seven. Krista Butterfield chipped in six and Keonni Conkle finished the game with five. Other Melissa scorers included: Megan Conlin (4) and Cat Whitten (4).
L 11 6 10 15 — 42
M 9 7 6 12 — 34