MELISSA – Defending Class 4A state champion Argyle visited Melissa on Nov. 27 and came away with a 59-36 non-district victory. The taller, better-shooting Lady Eagles pulled away midway through the first quarter and dominated the rest of the way. For the first few minutes of the game, though, the Lady Cardinals’ defense had Argyle a bit out of sync and Melissa led 7-6. About the only thing working for the Lady Eagles early on was their 3-point shooting, but that turned out to be plenty as they poured in five first-quarter treys - 15 of their first 18 points.


From there, Argyle’s defense took over as Melissa struggled to forge an offensive attack. At the same time, the Lady Eagles’ inside game got untracked and 2-point shots started to fall. Argyle led 29-16 at halftime and 43-25 after three frames.


Rhyle McKinney led the Lady Eagles with a game-high 25 points and teammate Kylee Lavelle was next with 11. Guard Sally Clemmons’ 11 points were tops for Melissa (2-7) while guard Mia Ellis and forward Ashley Gideon tallied seven and six points, respectively.


Argyle opened the season as the state’s No. 2-ranked Class 4A team, according to Texas Association of Basketball Coaches polling. Entering this contest at 7-5, they were still ranked among the Top 10.


“We didn’t play,” Melissa head coach Chris Oestreich said. “We didn’t play hard. We didn’t play near as well tonight as we did in the three games at the Wichita Falls [tournament]. And I recognize that there’s youth and inexperience - that’s part of that. But I thought tonight at times we failed to compete. … Tonight I just didn’t feel like we ever really had five people getting after them the way we needed to. I’m hoping it’s just a bad night. We can look at some film tomorrow and go back to practice and shake it off. But I’m super disappointed that we didn’t compete better.


“The first five minutes of the first quarter I thought were good for us. And I thought there were some moments late in the third and there in the fourth where we had some really good individual efforts. But as a team and being connected we didn’t do a good job. Our communication is bad and right now we’re struggling to run any kind of offense. … Basketball is a game of flow and one of the things we’re trying to do is be disruptive and take people out of their flow. But tonight we let them take us out of our offense by being disruptive. … You’re not going to see [Argyle’s talent level] every night but, you know, that’s who you want to be. You want to compete in those games.”


“We kind of got off to a slow start,” Argyle head coach Chance Westmoreland said. “But I thought at the end of the first quarter, the start of the second, our intensity was a lot better. We got some steals on our trap and got some easy buckets. … I thought our kids played hard for most of the night, but we’ve got to do a better job defensively. We fouled too much away from the basket. We’ve got move our feet better and block out a little stronger. But I think we’re getting there, just like the Melissa girls are. They’re going to be fine.”


As for Argyle’s first-quarter 3-point surge that seemed to kick-start its offense, Westmoreland said, “We’ve preached, ‘Just take the open shot, whether it be inside or outside or attacking the basket.’ That’s what Melissa was giving us in the first quarter and we knocked them down. That helped us. It kind of got us that separation we needed.”


Two minutes into the game, Clemmons put Melissa up, 3-0, on a layup-and-1 after Gideon’s steal. The Lady Eagles tied it with their first trey of the contest and took the lead for good at 9-7 with their third dagger from downtown. After Argyle’s 18-9 first-quarter run, it appeared the second frame might be worse for the Lady Cards as halfway through the period Melissa had scratched one point and trailed, 24-10. But fueled by three Mia Ellis layups, the Lady Cards capped off the half with a 6-5 reply.


In the third stanza, two quick jumpers pushed Argyle’s advantage to 33-16. Allie Graham’s swished shot from the top of the key kept Melissa within 17, at 39-22, but by quarter’s end, the Lady Eagles’ margin was 18. In the fourth, the Cards garnered buckets from Graham, Clemmons and Jaydyn Bullard but Argyle’s lead surged to as much as 25 before the final buzzer.


District play for Melissa starts Jan. 4.


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Argyle 18 11 14 16 - 59


Melissa 9 7 9 11 - 36


Melissa scoring – Sally Clemmons 11, Mia Ellis 7, Ashley Gideon 6, Allie Graham 5, Jaydyn Bullard 4, Grace Moothart 2, Charley Lane 1.