ANNA — Anna’s Lady Coyotes picked up their first district win of the season on Tuesday, Jan. 16, trouncing Bonham, 51-33, after a tough battle in the first half. Down, 19-16, at the break, the Lady Coyotes exploded for a 24-4 third quarter and cruised on to the finish. Forward Lexi Stewart collected a game-high 12 points for Anna (1-3), while fellow forward JaShell Evans put up 11. Emma Bounds led Bonham (0-4) with eight points.


“I really liked the way we looked in the second half,” first-year Anna head coach Albert Cager said. “We came out with a lot of intensity, a lot of energy. We started making layups, we started forcing turnovers. … The only difference in the first half and the second half was the energy and the intensity. It wasn’t like we did anything different. We just played a lot harder.


“I think it means a lot,” Cager said of this much-needed victory. “It shows the type of potential we have, the way we can play on any given night. I think this team is really, really special. We’ve had some injuries that hurt us but I’m not going to use that as an excuse. I feel like we can compete in this district. I feel like we can make a playoff run with the team that we have.”


Cager had praise for several Lady Coyotes this night. “[Guard] Madison Davis was in the right spots,” he said, “and her hustling and her rebounding put us in really good positions from beginning to end.” The aggressive inside play of forwards Hannah Howell, JaShell Evans and FeKyra Wells, especially in the second half, was also noted. “And, I didn’t even realize it,” Cager said, “[forward] Lexi Stewart led us in scoring today, just making layups, being in position.”


Though turnovers abounded for both teams in the first half, the Lady Coyotes’ ball-handling was superior the rest of the way.


Anna quickly took control as the third quarter began. (Cager allowed that he had offered some earnest head-coach talk at halftime.) Howell opened the frame with a layup and minutes later took it inside for two more and the Lady Coyotes trailed, 21-20. Evans’ layup off a Howell assist then gave Anna its first lead.


Bonham jockeyed back ahead, 23-22, but from there the Lady Coyotes rolled for 18-straight points. Davis’ big steal and toss to Evans for two with a free throw put Anna up for good, 25-23. Davis followed with her own three-point play — a nailed jumper and subsequent free throw — before forward Taylor Medrick canned another jump shot “and one” to push the Lady Coyotes’ lead to 31-23. The new number had scarcely warmed the scoreboard when Davis stole the Lady Warriors’ inbounds pass and put it back for two more. Stewart followed with a sure shot from just inside 3-point range and the advantage was 35-23. Again, Davis stole the inbounds pass, getting it to Stewart — this time for a layup. That sent Bonham to timeout. Out of the break — (speak up if you’ve heard this) — Davis grabbed the inbounds pass. Though her shot wouldn’t go, Stewart put it back in and was fouled. Her free throw sent the Lady Coyotes’ lead to 40-27 as the quarter ended.


In the fourth, Anna’s margin had swelled to 22, at 49-27, after Wells’ layup high off the glass and guard Chastity Brown-Littleton’s steal and jumper in the lane. Evans’ put back of her own shot with 3:39 left ended Lady Coyote scoring for the night.


A Bonham basket with 18 seconds left kept the final margin under 20 points.


In the first quarter, the Lady Warriors pushed to an 8-2 lead on the strength to two 3-pointers but Anna soon chipped back. After Evans’ mid-court steal and drive for two made it 8-5, Bonham, a put-back by Stewart drew the Lady Coyotes to within a point. As the stanza ended, another Stewart layup kept Anna close, at 10-9.


The Lady Warriors opened the second period with two more treys and looked ready to pull away, at 17-11. But Brown-Littleton, off the bench, swished back-to-back jumpers from just inside the arc to keep things tight through this stretch. Up, 17-16, as the clock wound down, Bonham sank a jumper for its three-point halftime edge.


Anna scorers: Lexi Stewart 12, JaShell Evans 11, Hannah Howell 8, Madison Davis 7, Chastity Brown-Littleton 6, Taylor Medrick 3, FeKyra Wells 3, Marianna Bert 1.