DALLAS — Melissa’s boys and girls basketball squads took to the court versus North Lamar at the American Airlines Center on Monday, Dec. 12, and high school hoops fans may be hard-pressed to see two more exciting, well-played games this season. Both contests went down to the proverbial wire, with one needing an overtime period and the other decided by a single point. In the end, each school claimed a win — and the teams stuck around for the Dallas Mavericks-Denver Nuggets game, won by the Mavs, 112-92.
Here’s a closer look at that rousing Melissa-North Lamar action:
Lady Cards win in overtime
In the day’s first game, the Lady Cards triumphed over North Lamar’s Pantherettes in overtime, 42-40, led by leading scorers junior Taylor Carney and sophomore Sally Clemmons, with 12 points each. Ultimately, it was Clemmons’ jumper from the lane with seconds left that provided Melissa’s winning margin. Before that, knotted at 38 in the extra period, junior Taylor Thomas’ drive to the hoop and lay-up had given the Lady Cards a 40-38 boost — soon matched by two North Lamar free throws.
Near the end of regulation, sophomore Charley Lane’s two swished free throws provided Melissa a 37-36 lead. Over the next minute and half, the teams swapped timeouts before Thomas was fouled with nine seconds left. Her free throw pushed the Lady Cards’ lead to 38-36 before North Lamar’s Madison Morrison, who finished with a game-high 18 points, drove the lane for a layup to send the battle to overtime.
The Pantherettes (4-9) had just three other scorers besides Morrison, all in single digits.
Melissa (8-11) started slowly, trailing early, 11-1. But Carney soon found the net, popping the Lady Cards’ first field goal late in the first quarter. She followed that with two more short jumpers from the side as the second stanza began, and Melissa was back in it. Clemmons’ driving layup and, later, two free throws tied the score at 13-13.
“After you get that first bucket in a venue like this … it settles them down,” Melissa head coach Heather Lane said. “It just took a while to get the first one. We were shooting outside too much to begin with, instead of trying to attack the basket or shoot in the paint. Once we got that basket, then they seemed to settle and just started playing better defense. … Carney got hot and then our guards started attacking more — Natalie Conlin, Taylor Thomas, Krista Butterfield started going to the basket. That created open shots.”
Sophomore Skyla Mackey took one of those, draining a corner-2 as the halftime buzzer sounded to keep the Lady Cards’ close, 17-15. In the third quarter, Melissa took its first lead of the game, 21-19, on Natalie Conlin’s layup off a Clemmons assist. Senior Addison Flowers’ jumper as the quarter ended, followed by a Thomas swisher to open the fourth, gave the Lady Cards their biggest lead of the game, 30-23.
Thompson and Clemmons both hit NBA 3-pointers in the second half.
“And that’s fun for them,” Lane said. “That’s part of the experience. The lanes are a lot wider, the 3-point line is about five feet farther back. And,” she laughed, “the chairs on the home bench are taller.”
After the game, seniors Butterfield and Brown described playing at the AAC.
“It wasn’t as nerve-wracking because we had played here last year, we’d already done it before,” Butterfield said. “But it was more exciting this year, because we knew it’s fun to play in this atmosphere.”
Brown agreed, adding, “Getting to play in the huge arena with our team — and then going into overtime — that made it exciting.”
Butterfield said the arena’s size does take some getting used to.
“The depth perception makes it feel — it’s hard to move right, I guess?” she said. “It’s so big and feels like your steps are off.”
“You get used to it, but it felt like the court was bigger, like, when you were running on it,” Brown said.
“Really cool,” is how Lane described coaching the Lady Cards at the AAC for a second straight year.
“It’s a neat experience, I guess for me now, to watch them — to watch their faces when you walk in and kind of see them big-eyed,” she said. “Since we have most of our team back from last year, it was about four girls that were new. So it was pretty cool to see them be excited about it.”