The third-annual Highway 5 basketball tournament is in the books and it was another hoop fan’s dream. This year’s massive three-venue extravaganza — played Thursday through Saturday at Anna, Melissa and Van Alstyne high schools - featured 63 teams, including JV and freshmen entries.
The varsity girls’ slate included four three-team pools while the varsity boys filled four four-team pools. Pool play was conducted on Thursday and Friday with bracket and championship games on Saturday.
In the varsity girls’ final, Class 5A Braswell topped Melissa’s Lady Cardinals, 57-44, while Braswell’s boys downed Van Alstyne, 73-43, in their title game. The Lady Cards reached their championship showdown with a 3-0 tourney record, after downing Class 5A Sherman, McKinney Christian and Van Alstyne. Melissa’s boys swept pool play with wins over Bonham, Class 5A Denison and Crandall before finishing with a 3-2 mark for fourth place.
The Anna Coyotes went 2-1 in pool play, with wins over Ferris and Whitesboro and a loss to Sherman, then topped Aubrey in overtime on Saturday before falling to Bonham. The Lady Coyotes split their two pool games — downing Class 5A RL Turner and falling to Braswell - before dropping decisions to Waco Robinson and Sherman on Saturday.
Below are recaps of the Anna and Melissa boys’ and girls’ varsity games, in order.
MELISSA LADY CARDS
Lady Cards 56, Sherman 38
Melissa head coach Chris Oestreich called it “ugly” but he probably couldn’t have been happier. The topic was his Lady Cards’ 56-38 takedown of Sherman on Thursday in the tourney-opener for both teams. Oestreich explained further: “The uglier it is the better we’re going to be. They’re buying into that. Ugly takes effort – rotations, knowing where you’re supposed to be – and we’re figuring that out. … We’re not an extremely talented scoring team – yet. I think we can be. But we’re going to have to score from our defense. We’re going to have to create points out of that.”
Guard Sally Clemmons led Melissa with 16 points and forward Ashley Gideon chipped in 10. Forward Charley Lane, still newly-arrived from volleyball, operated strongly at both ends of the court - feeding the ball inside, making steals and rebounding. Guards Mya Ellis and Jaydyn Bullard also stepped up aggressively, posting nine and seven points, respectively.
The Lady Cards (5-10) led by seven after three quarters but broke the game open with a 16-5 surge in the fourth.
“That was all them,” Oestreich said of his team’s performance. “That was communication, that was effort, that was hustle. That’s all a coach can ever ask for.”
Said Sherman head coach Dave Upton, “Foul trouble hurt us early. I had to put my starting guards on the bench for most of the second quarter. … Plus, I think they hit 12 or 13 free throws in the first half. That’s a lot of points to put on the board just off free throws. In the second half, we just didn’t handle pressure.”
Guard Libby Ticknor recorded a team-high 12 points for the Lady Bearcats (5-8).
Melissa charged to an 11-3 first-quarter lead, boosted by buckets from Clemmons and Gideon and two shot-blocks each by Lane and Gideon. Sherman closed the gap to 14-10 by the end of frame with the aid of a Ticknor left-corner 3.
The Lady Coyotes kept attacking the rim in the second stanza and reaching the charity stripe. Bullard’s trey from the left side gave Melissa breathing room at 25-14, but the Lady Bearcats rallied to trail, 26-22, by halftime on Savanna Hall’s layup at the buzzer.
Two minutes into the third quarter Sherman held a 29-28 lead after at 7-2 burst highlighted by Ticknor’s top-of-the-key 3. The teams battled through two ties before a 5-0 Lady Cards run sparked by Mia Ellis’ right-corner 3 earned a 38-33 edge.
In the fourth, Gideon’s layup off a Bullard assist put Melissa up, 47-38, and from there Melissa turned on the jets. Clemmons’ straight-on trey was followed by a Bullard steal and toss to Clemmons for a layup. On Melissa’s next possession, after burning some clock, Clemmons’ driving layup sent the margin to 54-38 then a Gideon steal and feed to Mya Ellis capped the game’s scoring.
“We’re still trying to define roles a little bit for some of these kids,” Oestreich said. “We’ve got a freshman out there, we’ve got two sophomores out there, we’ve got juniors that didn’t play on varsity. It’s part of the process. Don’t get me wrong — this is a great win for us. This is a building block in the process.”
Lady Cards 66, McKinney Christian 21
On Friday, Melissa held McKinney Christian scoreless in the second quarter in posting its second tourney win. Lane collected a team-high 13 points while Moothart tallied 11 and Clemmons added 10. Melissa led, 43-7, by halftime. With the victory, the Lady Cards (6-10) won their pool and advanced to a championship-bracket meeting with Class 3A Van Alstyne.
Lady Cards 71, Van Alstyne 33
Melissa jumped on the Lady Panthers early, leading 18-6 after one frame then 38-16 at the half. Scoring leaders for the Lady Cards (7-10) included Clemmons with 18 points and Mya Ellis with 14. Torin Riddick banked a team-high 11 points for Van Alstyne.
Early in this match-up Clemmons reached 1,000 points for her Melissa career and was later presented a commemorative basketball. Clemmons is the daughter of Lady Cards assistant coach JD Clemmons. She tied the mark early on versus the Lady Panthers - doing what she does best: driving hard to the basket. “I just kind of drove past [the defender],” Clemmons said, “and everyone was yelling at me to go. So I just shot my layup. … Honestly, I didn’t even know it was coming until [my dad] told me a couple of weeks ago. Usually people only get it in four years on varsity and I’ve only been on varsity for three. It was a big achievement. I’m very excited and very blessed for everyone that has supported me. I almost cried.”
Braswell 57, Lady Cards 44
For a time in this championship tilt, it appeared Melissa might get blown out - but the Lady Cards gamely fought back from 21 down in the second quarter to within a single point of Braswell in the third before falling. And that showed Oestreich plenty about his team, as he noted after the Lady Cards’ lone tournament loss and second-place finish.
“I’m super-pleased with where we’re at compared to seven to 10 days ago,” he said. “We’ve grown a ton maturity-wise, offensively and defensively. People are buying in now. They hit us in the mouth pretty hard in the beginning and what I’m most proud of is we responded, bounced back, adjusted our defense a bit to slow them down. When we got it down to one, we couldn’t hang on. I had burned too many timeouts early to be able the stop their runs the way I would like to.”
Gideon popped for a team-high 18 points for Melissa and Clemmons chipped in 10. Aminah Hall led the Lady Bengals with 18 points - including a crushing four-3s spree that started late in the first quarter and spread to the second. Later, it was Trinity Barnes who did Braswell’s long-distance damage with two fourth-stanza treys as Melissa (7-11) tried to rally.
“I thought we did a good job of controlling the pace,” Lady Bengals head coach Paige Trujillo said. “When we control the pace we’re a hard team to beat. The girls really stepped up putting pressure on them full court and turning them over and taking advantage of those opportunities.”
Braswell (11-3) finished tournament play with a 4-0 record.
In the first quarter, the Lady Bengals raced to a 21-5 lead as Melissa’s shots wouldn’t fall and Braswell controlled the boards. Hall’s third and fourth 3-pointers pushed the lead to 29-8 but the Cards battled back with a 10-0 run capped by Clemmons’ steal and court-length drive for 2. Lane’s left-side 3 cut the lead to 31-21 with 1:10 left in the half and two charity-stripe buckets from Gideon had Melissa within eight at the break.
Midway through the third frame, Gideon’s layup off a Lane assist had the deficit down to six, 35-29. Gideon soon followed with a rebound and put-back layup-and-1 after a missed Lady Cards’ free throw and Melissa trailed, 37-34. With a minute left in the third, it was Mia Ellis who toed the free throw line and sank two shots to get the margin to one, 37-36, as Braswell likely wondered what had happened.
But before that frame ended, the Lady Bengals started a run that would stretch to 11-1 in the fourth - a surge capped by the first of Barnes’ two 3s. Her second top-of-the-key bomb sent the lead to 51-38. Melissa cut the margin to 11 twice more but would get no closer.
“I couldn’t ask more of our kids,” Oestreich said. “Our young kids - we’ve not seen anybody with that kind of athleticism this year. So there were things we’re used to being able to do that we weren’t able to do. … You build off of something like this - anytime you can get in a stretch and go 3-1. You want to play in trophy games. Obviously, you want to win the bigger one but we’ll grow from the experience of getting to this point. Our girls know what I’m expecting out of them. We still have a long way to go.”
Sherman 10 12 11 5 - 38
Melissa 14 12 14 16 - 56
Melissa scoring – Sally Clemmons 16, Ashley Gideon 10, Mya Ellis 9, Jaydyn Bullard 7, Charley Lane 6, Mia Ellis 6, Grace Moothart 2.
McK. Christian 7 0 11 3 - 21
Melissa 21 22 17 6 - 66
Melissa scoring – Charley Lane 13, Grace Moothart 11, Sally Clemmons 10, Melayah Muhammad 9, Jaydyn Bullard 8, Mia Ellis 7, Ashley Gideon 4, Allie Graham 2, B. Mays? 2.
Van Alstyne 6 10 11 6 - 33
Melissa 18 19 15 19 - 71
Melissa scoring – Sally Clemmons 18, Mya Ellis 14, Charley Lane 13, Ashley Gideon 11, Mia Ellis 7, Allie Graham 4, Melayah Muhammad 2, Grace Moothart 2.
Braswell 21 10 10 16 - 57
Melissa 5 18 14 8 - 44
Melissa scoring – Ashley Gideon 17, Sally Clemmons 10, Charley Lane 5, Mia Ellis 4, Grace Moothart 4, Mya Ellis, 2, Jaydyn Bullard 2.
Coyotes 48, Ferris 33
Anna opened tourney play on Thursday with a 48-33 thumping of Class 4A Ferris (1-9) as Coyotes forward Jackson Vandagriff rolled to a team-high 16 points. Anna (5-4) got out early and led by 10 after one stanza then held a 24-15 advantage at halftime.
While pleased with a “W,” Anna head coach Kyle Phifer said the Coyotes need to get better at playing with a lead. “We came out 16-6 [in the first quarter] and I felt like we just kind of went through the motions after that. We haven’t been in that position a lot, so it’s just getting used to being in that position, understanding how to put teams away. … We’re picking and choosing when we’re playing. We’ve got to do a better job finishing games.”
Phifer also noted, “I didn’t feel like we did a good job offensively, taking care of the ball. And we didn’t do a great job, defensively, securing possessions. … I didn’t think we had very good ball movement. We did hit some shots early, we got some things going, but then it stopped. We should have been better getting it from one side to the other.”
Said Ferris head coach Jerrel Chumley, “Taking care of the basketball and rebounding, that’s the two things we didn’t do a good job of today.” He added, “This is a good organized tournament. They’ve got a lot of teams that shoot the ball real well. This is our opportunity to learn how to play basketball against good competition.”
Kamden Spence’s big right-corner 3 closed out that solid first frame for Anna. To open the second, a Vandagriff layup off of Micah Cotton’s feed sent the Coyotes’ lead to 18-6. Anna’s roll was slowed by three Ferris steals over the next three minutes but the team bounced back with Jaedin Victorian’s layup with a Bullet Geer assist, Jeremiah Ivery’s drive for 2 and two Jayden Rodgers free throws to lead, 24-11.
Anna struck fast in the third to go up 28-15 on layups by Cotton and Vandagriff. Ferris clawed back to within 28-20 on a 3-pointer but Vandagriff’s back-door layup followed by a Josh O’Bier jump shot put Anna up, 32-20. Spence’s close-in bucket stretched the margin by two more with under a minute left in the quarter.
The Coyotes blew to a 20-point lead in the fourth on Noah Palshaw’s jumper from the lane followed by back-to-back 3s from Vandagriff and Spence. Ferris chipped back to within 45-31 with two minutes left but a dagger left-corner 3 from Geer put down any hopes of a Yellowjackets rally.
Coyotes 63, Whitesboro 57
Anna notched its second win of the tourney in as many tries with Thursday night’s defeat of Class 3A Whitesboro. Guards Geer and Cotton led the Coyotes with 18 and 17 points, respectively. Anna (6-4) rallied from a one-point first-quarter deficit to lead 31-29 at halftime and 48-41 after three stanzas.
Sherman 55, Coyotes 44
Anna got out quickly versus Sherman on Friday - as in 16-6 over the Bearcats after one quarter. But from there, Sherman’s pressure defense showed up and their shots started to fall. The Bearcats’ 18-7 second-quarter burst had them up, 24-23, by halftime.
“They turned up the pressure there in the second quarter, started doing some trapping,” Phifer said. “I thought we struggled adjusting to that. It really took us a full quarter to kind of catch our breath with that. We fought back there at the end of the second. We were getting good possessions, we just didn’t finish. Then their No. 3 [Braiden Speed] hit three 3s in the third. I thought that was the difference.”
As for the Coyotes’ strong first stanza, Phifer said, “We were just running our stuff. We were back-cutting, just playing basketball, and we were doing a good job of that. When they turned up the pressure, we quit doing that.”
Said Sherman head coach Jordan Marks, “In the first quarter, we couldn’t get to the shots we wanted to and the ball wasn’t going through the net. I think once we went to our press, our kids started to get their rhythm and their momentum going.”
In that first frame Vandagriff and Geer each popped a 3-pointer and Victorian worked inside for two layups enroute to a 12-2 Coyotes lead. Jaden Adams used the glass for a close-in bucket to push Anna’s lead to 14-4 before Cotton’s jumper in the lane added two more.
Before the second quarter began, Marks told the Bearcats, “This is a beatable team. We’re 10 down because of [offensive] selfishness.” Defensively, Sherman went out and posted at least six steals over the next eight minutes and forced three other turnovers. Treys from Speed and Mason Gabriel boosted the Bearcats’ charge to within 18-17 before Dadrien Calhoun-Moore’s layup gave Sherman its first lead. A big put-back layup-and-1 from Vandagriff briefly put Anna back up, 23-22, but DJ Hester answered with a bucket for the Bearcats’ halftime lead.
In the third, Sherman (5-8) pushed its advantage to 32-26 with two 3s as Cotton fought back with a tough layup-and-1. Speed’s trio of treys soon sparked the Bearcats’ push to 41-33 as the quarter expired. Anna rallied to within 43-40 early in the fourth on Cotton’s left-corner 3 and a Spence jumper – but Sherman doused the charge with a 7-0 run. Victorian’s layup off a Spence feed and Cotton’s coast-to-coast drive for 2 made it 52-44 but Anna would get no closer.
Speed led Sherman scorers with 16 points, including five 3s. Vandagriff’s 13 points was tops for the Coyotes (6-5) and Geer knocked down 11.
“We’re competing, we’re getting better,” Phifer said. “We’re continuing to work on different things, see what lineups work. For the most part, we’ve had a good tournament. They’ve competed in every game. We’ve done a lot of good things.”
Coyotes 60, Aubrey 55 OT
In bracket play on Saturday, Anna downed the Class 4A Chaparrals in overtime led by Vandagriff’s 14 points and 10 from Cotton. Jacob Crow posted game-high 21 points for Aubrey. Tied at 14 after one quarter, Anna erupted to lead 36-21 by halftime sparked by 3s from Cotton and Adams. The Chaps roared back with a 31-16 second half to force overtime.
Anna (7-5) won the extra period, 8-4, on two free throws each from Palshaw and Vandagriff, lone free throws by Geer and Cotton, and Cotton’s 2-point bucket.
Bonham 52, Coyotes 47
Boosted by Josh Upke’s 33 points, the Class 3A Warriors defeated Anna by five on Saturday. Bonham struck fast, leading 12-4 after one quarter and 27-15 at halftime. The Coyotes stormed back to trail, 33-32, at the end of three - buoyed by six points from Palshaw and five from Cotton - but Bonham took just enough separation in the fourth.
Adams posted a team-high nine points for Anna. The Coyotes wrapped tournament play with a 3-2 mark and are now 7-6 on the season.
Ferris 6 9 6 12 - 33
Anna 16 8 11 13 - 48
Anna scoring – Jackson Vandagriff 16, Kamden Spence 8, Noah Palshaw 4, Micah Cotton 4, Jeremiah Ivery 4, Jaedin Victorian 4, Josh O’Bier 3, Bullet Geer 3, Jayden Rodgers 2.
Whitesboro 18 11 12 16 - 57
Anna 17 14 17 15 - 63
Anna scoring – Bullet Geer 18, Micah Cotton 17, Jackson Vandagriff 13, Noah Palshaw 10, Jeremiah Ivery 5.
Sherman 6 18 17 14 - 55
Anna 16 7 10 11 - 44
Anna scoring – Jackson Vandagriff 13, Micah Cotton 11, Bullet Geer 7, Jaedin Victorian 6, Kamden Spence 5, Jaden Adams 2.
Aubrey 14 7 20 11 4 - 56
Anna 14 22 11 5 8 - 60
Anna scoring – Jackson Vandagriff 14, Micah Cotton 10, Jaden Adams 9, Jaedin Victorian 8, Noah Palshaw 8, Jeremiah Ivery 5, Bullet Geer 4, Kamden Spence 2.
Bonham 12 15 6 19 - 52
Anna 4 11 17 15 - 47
Anna scoring – Braden Adams 9, Noah Palshaw 8, Micah Cotton 8, Bullet Geer 7, Josh O’Bier 6, Jayden Rodgers 6, Kamden Spence 3, Jeremiah Ivery 2.
Cards 60, Bonham 52
In a battle of unbeatens on Thursday, Melissa (7-0) outdueled Bonham’s Warriors in the tournament-opener for both teams. Cards guard Kenneth Castleberry Jr. put up a team-high 17 points and four other Melissa players posted double-digit outings. Forward Ricky Morning tallied 13 points while guard Ezra Monroe and forward Avery Fuller added 10 points each. Class 3A Bonham (8-1) was led by Josh Ukpe’s game-high 24 points.
“The thing that stood out for me today was the same thing that stood out last week [at the Sanger tournament],” Melissa head coach Eric Benton said. “We were really balanced with our scoring. That seems to be a trend right now. The ball is moving and different people are finding it in advantageous spots. I think that’s just going to be how we have to play, how we’re going to be able to score.
“I thought we had a little lull where we lost Upke, he got loose. … I think we just got a little tired and lost sight of him a few times. That’s something we’ve got to be better at. But overall I was really pleased.”
Said first-year Bonham head coach Chris Williams, “Melissa’s got a tough team. Everybody on that team can score. I thought my guys did a good job of battling on defense. We missed some shots. I’m not taking anything away from Melissa because they’re a well-coached team and they’ve got some really good players. That No. 3 [Castleberry] is a really, really tough player. … It’s our first loss. I want to see how we respond to that.”
Forward Avery Fuller’s layup gave the Cards a 6-0 first-quarter lead before Castleberry drained a deuce and a trey from the left side on back-to-back possessions for a 13-3 Melissa advantage. Castleberry bombed a right-side 3 one minute into the second stanza and Morning’s ensuing runner off the glass pushed the lead to 20-8. Morning soon leaned in for a layup followed by Castleberry’s jumper in the lane and a Monroe layup to send the lead to 26-15. Fuller’s turnaround jumper kept Melissa rolling at 28-18 before Upke’s layup and a free throw seconds before the break got the Warriors to within seven.
To open the third quarter, Upke and Castleberry traded 3s but Fuller’s put-back off a Monroe 3-point try and Monroe’s ensuing layup soon had the Cards up, 35-24. After a Fuller block, Morning’s big push to the hoop bagged two points and a foul. Morning completed the three-point play but a technical foul was called on someone after the layup. Upke sank both “T”-related free throws and the margin went back to nine, 38-29.
Late in the stanza, Bonham logged consecutive 3-pointers from Tyler Rodriguez and Tanner Reaves to trail, 40-37. Melissa’s Dylan Fortenberry answered with a swished jumper from the left side, but Upke fired again from downtown and the Warriors threatened, 42-40. Fortenberry came back with a clutch left-side trey and the Cards’ lead was five at the end of three.
In the fourth, Castleberry pushed the lead to 49-40 with a running shot off the glass after a steal and coast-to-coast drive. Upke replied with a right-corner 3 but with four minutes remaining Fortenberry’s layup off a Morning assist had Melissa up, 53-45.
Morning soon grabbed a steal and fed Monroe who drew a foul. Monroe drained both free throws for a 55-45 Melissa lead with 3:25 left to play. Bonham cut the deficit to six before Holloway laid up a runner for a 57-49 Cards advantage. Two free throws got the Warriors to within six points with less than a minute left but free throws from Holloway and Morning would close out the win.
“I think they’re really good,” Benton said of the Warriors. “Upke is such a good athlete, making shots, then Tyler and couple of guards they have back are really good. … We were fortunate that we got a couple of more guys make a couple more plays.”
Cards 87, Denison 64
Melissa stayed hot with a Thursday-evening trouncing of Denison. Castleberry led another balanced Cards attack with a team-high 21 points followed by 18 from Morning and 16 from Monroe. Tarrence Gaines recorded a game-high 22 points for Denison. Melissa (8-0) stretched its 50-37 halftime lead to 72-51 by the end of three frames.
Cards 63, Crandall 51
On Friday, three Castleberry 3-pointers led Melissa’s 20-point first-quarter barrage and Crandall never quite recovered. The Pirates managed to get within five by halftime but trailed, 46-36, after three frames as Melissa pushed its season record to 9-0.
Castleberry wound up with a game-high 25 points, including seven shots drained from 3-point range, while Holloway pumped in 17. Beau Bragg’s 20 points led Class 4A Crandall (7-5).
“I thought we did a really good job of being patient,” Benton said. “They’re so fundamentally sound, defensively. They’re not going to give you easy stuff. We talked about how we might have to get to the fourth or fifth side of floor sometimes. They made us do some of that. I thought we executed really well, our spacing was great and we made some shots. We played unselfishly. The ball moved.”
Of Castleberry’s dead-eye shooting this night, Benton noted, “He starts to demand some attention then … it just opens some things for Matt or Ezra on drives or some of those guys inside. We’ve been pretty balanced. We’re trying to move it around and let multiple people touch it on every possession and take what the defense gives us.”
Said Crandall head coach Stan Short, “Melissa’s got a really good team and I knew we were going to have to play extremely well on their court, in their tournament. I was very proud of my guys. We executed our game plan really well with the exception of one thing: We decided to have our worst shooting night. We normally are a very good 3-point shooting team. It was atrocious. We just could not make any of them. And most of it, frankly, was that [Melissa’s] defense was good and they contested those shots well.”
Leading 20-11 after one, the Cards’ advantage went to 24-14 with a Holloway mid-second quarter jumper from the left side. From there, Crandall laid down a 9-4 run to trail 28-23 at the break. Early in the third stanza, Holloway’s fall-away jumper kept Melissa up, 32-28, before Morning’s big move inside made it 34-30. Castleberry then capped a 10-0 Cards run with two dagger 3s - one from the left, one from the right - for a 42-30 edge. Melissa’s lead was 10 as the quarter ended on Holloway’s banked-in bucket from the left side.
Crandall’s wheels just about came off to open the fourth as Castleberry buried a trey and Holloway’s runner off the glass-and-1 sent the Cards’ margin to 54-38. A Pirates 3 got them back within 13 but two Dylan Fortenberry free throws sent Melissa’s lead to 61-46. Morning’s layup off a fake-pass move made it 63-49 with under a minute left and time ran out on Crandall.
Van Alstyne 79, Cards 63
Beating a good team three times in a row is tough – especially in less than two weeks’ time. Previously undefeated Melissa was reminded of that in their semifinal showdown with the Panthers – a team they’d bested twice since Nov. 27.
Van Alstyne led 40-36 at halftime then blew it open with a 20-9 push in the third quarter. Samuel Tormos led the Class 3A Panthers with a game-high 34 points, needing just one 3-pointer along the way, while Tyler Sperry punched in 22. Van Alstyne’s deep game came from JJ Bowling who canned four from downtown to finish with 14 points.
Holloway’s 18 points led the Cards while Monroe and Castleberry garnered 12 and 10, respectively.
Said Panthers head coach Russell Best, “We needed to make sure, defensively, that we just get everything contested. They have really skilled offensive guys, good shooters. We wanted to stay in the stance, help each other out and make sure everything was tough.
“I thought our shot selection was great. We didn’t have any forces, we did a good job of moving the ball and the proper guy was getting it at the right time. … And I think our last two games have been the best defensive games we’ve played. We’re getting locked in.”
Said Benton, “We knew it was going to be really tough. They played really well. They gave us a lot of problems in some things that were just the difference in the game. … We missed some shots early that we’ve been hitting and I think that made us a little antsy. When a couple didn’t fall early I think we forced a couple to try to get ourselves going, instead of just being patient. They got to about 8 or 10 [points up] there in the first half and we just couldn’t really ever chip away after that.”
The Panthers opened with a 5-0 lead but Holloway’s 3 soon tied it, 5-5. When Van Alstyne got breathing room, at 12-8, on a Drelin Davis steal and layup-plus-1, Monroe answered with a right-corner trey. Castleberry’s coast-to-coast layup off a turnover then gave Melissa what would be its only lead of the contest, 13-12. The Panthers quickly replied with Boling’s right-side 3 and held a 19-17 edge after one quarter.
Van Alstyne’s 9-0 run to start the second stanza gave solid indication that this third meeting with Melissa might be different. Down, 28-17, the Cards fought back with 3s from Fisher, Hunter Sparks and Holloway but still trailed, 40-36, at halftime.
In the third, the Panthers’ lead quickly went to 54-37 as Melissa shooters went cold. A Castleberry lay-up ended Van Alstyne’s 14-1 surge but a Boling 3 and Sperry’s layup-and-1 soon had the Panthers up, 60-40.
Holloway’s jumper in the lane cut Van Alstyne’s lead to 60-47 as the final stanza began. Then with five minutes left to play two Monroe free throws had the Cards’ deficit at 12. Fisher would swish twice more from downtown, but Tormos and Sperry answered with 3-point-play layups down the stretch.
Sherman 69, Cards 64
The Bearcats rallied from an early 12-point hole to top Melissa on Saturday and claim third place in the boys’ varsity bracket. (Sherman fell to Braswell, 63-46, in the semifinals.) Castleberry rolled to a game-high 23 points for the Cards and Holloway added 11. Braiden Speed posted 17 points for Sherman, including three 3-pointers in the decisive fourth quarter. The teams were knotted at 46 at halftime.
With its 3-2 tourney finish Melissa is now 9-2 on the season.
Bonham 6 15 19 12 - 52
Melissa 13 15 17 15 - 60
Melissa scoring - Kenneth Castleberry Jr. 17, Ricky Morning 13, Avery Fuller 10, Ezra Monroe 10, Matt Holloway 5, Dylan Fortenberry 5.
Denison 18 19 14 13 - 64
Melissa 23 27 22 15 - 87
Melissa scoring - Kenneth Castleberry Jr. 21, Ricky Morning 18, Ezra Monroe 16, Matt Holloway 9, Phoenix Bramhall 6, Mark Fisher 5, Dylan Fortenberry 5, Hunter Sparks 4, Avery Fuller 4.
Crandall 11 12 13 15 - 51
Melissa 20 8 18 17 - 63
Melissa scoring – Kenneth Castleberry Jr. 25, Matt Holloway 17, Ezra Monroe 7, Ricky Morning 6, Hunter Sparks 4, Dylan Fortenberry 2, Avery Fuller 2.
Melissa 17 19 9 18 - 63
Van Alstyne 19 21 20 19 - 79
Melissa scoring – Matt Holloway 18, Ezra Monroe 12, Kenneth Castleberry Jr. 10, Mark Fisher 9, Avery Fuller 6, Hunter Sparks 4, Ricky Morning 4.
Sherman 6 23 17 23 - 69
Melissa 18 20 8 16 - 64
Melissa scoring – Kenneth Castleberry Jr. 23, Matt Holloway 11, Ezra Monroe 8, Hunter Sparks 7, Avery Fuller, 5, Ricky Morning 4, Dylan Fortenberry 3, Mark Fisher 1.
ANNA LADY COYOTES
Lady Coyotes 45, RL Turner 29
Anna got out of the gate on the Thursday with a 16-point win over Class 5A RL Turner. The Lady Coyotes were led by guard Skyla Mackey’s 10 points and guard Shelby Dombrowski added eight. Anna (5-3) grabbed an early 10-4 advantage and led, 16-8, at halftime.
Braswell 57, Lady Coyotes 38
In Anna’s second contest on Thursday, guard Marianna Bert and forward Bre Traylor pumped in a team-high 12 points each in the Lady Coyotes’ loss to eventual tourney champ Braswell. Anna (5-4) forged a 10-10 tie after one quarter, but the Lady Bengals took separation in the second then pulled away with a 15-3 fourth stanza.
Waco Robinson 49, Lady Coyotes 33
In bracket play on Friday evening, Class 4A Robinson overcame Anna’s quick start to craft a comfortable win. Bert ripped off three left-side 3s for the Lady Coyotes before the opening frame was half-done and Anna led, 9-4. Traylor’s layup bumped the lead to seven but from there the Lady Rockets delivered a 6-1 surge to trail 12-10 and soon had the lead – one they wouldn’t give up.
Anna was without guard Kaycee Redwine, who was involved in theater, and forward Qua Fisher, who not feeling well.
“I think on a different night when we have all of our personnel, it’s a closer game and I like our chances,” Anna head coach Justin Baldia said. “We came out hot. We were knocking down shots. That’s exactly how we want to start - but it’s unsustainable for four quarters and we know that. The girls played their hearts out. We just didn’t have a very deep bench tonight. As the game wore on our legs started to give and we didn’t have the usual personnel in there to give us a break.”
Said Robinson head coach Keith Smith, “In the second half we really keyed on that No. 1 [Bert] and shut her down. Luckily none of the other ones hit some shots. I think our offense came from our defense a lot. It was big when we figured out their No. 1 was the one we needed to stop.”
Bert finished with a team-high 15 points, the same as Robinson’s top scorer, Shelby Salter.
In the second quarter, the Lady Rockets quickly tied the score at 12-12 then pushed on to a 21-14 advantage. As the half wound down, Anna (5-5) rallied to within 21-20 on Bert’s fourth trey of the night and a jump shot in the lane from Howell.
Early in the third stanza the Lady Rockets (14-5) launched - posting two quick layups, a 3 and a left-corner jumper for a 32-20 lead. Bert’s driving layup-and-1 cut Robinson’s lead to 36-23 before a right-side trey from Mackey drew the Lady Coyotes to within 40-26. In the fourth, Anna’s deficit stretched to 20 points twice before four-straight Dombrowski free throws for the Lady Coyotes closed out the scoring.
Sherman 42, Lady Coyotes 36
Anna started strong and led Sherman, 20-15, at halftime but the Lady Bearcats recovered for a six-point win. Jadyne Gatewood posted a game-high 14 points for Sherman and Mackey led the Lady Coyotes with 13 points, including three 3s in the first half. Bert collected 12 points for Anna. Fisher and Redwine were back in the lineup for the Lady Coyotes after missing the previous contest.
Anna finished 1-4 for the tournament and is now 5-6 on the season.
RL Turner 4 4 11 10 - 29
Anna 10 6 17 12 - 45
Anna scoring – Skyla Mackey 10, Shelby Dombrowski 8, Bre Traylor 7, Lexi Stewart 6, Hannah Howell 6, Qua Fisher 5, Perla Sostre 3.
Braswell 10 18 14 15 - 57
Anna 10 11 14 3 - 38
Anna scoring – Bre Traylor 12, Marianna Bert 12, Qua Fisher 7, Hannah Howell 3, Lexi Stewart 2, Kaycee Redwine 2.
Robinson 10 11 29 9 - 49
Anna 12 8 6 7 - 33
Anna scoring – Marianna Bert 15, Shelby Dombrowski 7, Bre Traylor 4, Skyla Mackey 4, Hannah Howell 2, Lexi Stewart 1.
Sherman 7 8 13 14 - 42
Anna 12 8 7 9 - 36
Anna scoring – Skyla Mackey 13, Marianna Bert 12, Kaycee Redwine 5, Hannah Howell 4, Lexi Stewart 2.