At the midpoint of the District 11-4A race, Aubrey’s Lady Chaparrals find themselves alone in first place with a 5-0 mark, two games ahead of their nearest competitors. That’s what the visiting Lady Chaps earned on Friday in defeating Melissa, 50-40.
Miranda Nowak posted a team-high 14 points for Aubrey while Kaia Saylor and Audrey Beaty chipped in 11 apiece. Sally Clemmons led the Lady Cards with a game-high 18 points and Ashley Gideon added 11.
The Lady Chaps held Melissa to four first-quarter points and led, 20-15, at halftime before powering ahead by seven at the end of three stanzas.
“We just didn’t play with a lot of poise in the first half,” Melissa head coach Chris Oestreich said. “We let their size affect us inside. Instead of going at them, we were kind of going away from them. We’ve got to find a way to play with more poise when we play against size like that. … I thought we played hard. We played well on defense. If you’d have said, ‘Hey, you give up 20 points in the first half, would you take that?’ Yeah, for sure. We got a little sloppy in the second half because we were trying to chase a little bit.” As for Aubrey strengths, Oestreich said, “They contest everything with length and size. When you get to the rim, there’s always somebody waiting there. They wall you off from the basket. You’ve got to be willing to make contact and get into them.”
Lady Chaps head coach Ron Gathright said the winning gets no easier from here. “We’ve got Celina on Tuesday night, we’ve got Sanger on Friday night. I told the girls, ‘We’ve worked so hard to get where we’re at, we can’t let down and let somebody come up and beat us.’ Every team in this district, we’ve got to be ready to play.”
Melissa (3-2) made a run in the third quarter, drawing to within a point before Aubrey slapped back, 7-0. From there, the Lady Cards got no closer than six points. “We knew they were going to make a run,” Gathright said, “and we talked about keeping our composure, including myself. Just weather the storm and take care of the basketball and we felt like we’d be in good shape. It was more about composure than anything.”
In the second quarter, Aubrey moved to a 17-9 lead on four-straight free throws as three Lady Cards layups wouldn’t go. But just when it looked like Melissa would hit halftime down 20-12, Mia Ellis grabbed back some momentum for the Lady Cards with a buzzer-beater 3 from the right side.
The pace picked up in the third quarter as the teams traded quick transition goals. Clemmons’ driving layup drew Melissa to within 26-22 with 5:30 left in the frame and Gideon quickly added another off a Mia Ellis assist. Clemmons then drained one from the charity stripe and the Lady Cards trailed 26-25. Aubrey’s ensuing 7-0 reply was capped by a Gabi Grisso top-of-the-key 3 that sent Melissa to timeout. Three Lady Cards trey attempts during this stretch missed the mark.
In the fourth, a Gideon steal and coast-to-coast layup got Melissa to within 44-38 but after a Lady Cards turnover, Aubrey pushed its advantage to 10 with a baseline drive for 2. Free throws closed it out in the final seconds.
Aubrey 9 11 15 15 - 50
Melissa 4 11 13 12 - 40
Melissa scoring – Sally Clemmons 18, Ashley Gideon 11, Mia Ellis 6, Mya Ellis 2, Allie Graham 2, Jaydyn Bullard 1.
Head coach Eric Benton and the Melissa Cardinals boosted their district mark to 3-0 with a 58-45 win over Aubrey at Melissa Middle School on Friday. The Chaps entered the contest tied with Melissa at 2-0 in district play. Ricky Morning and Matt Holloway were scoring leaders for the Cards with 17 and 16 points, respectively. Jayden Hollis led Aubrey with 21 points and was 7-for-7 from the free throw line.
Melissa held a 27-24 advantage at halftime and after a tight third quarter pulled away in the fourth. In that final stanza, Morning tallied eight points and Hunter Sparks canned a 3.
Aubrey 14 10 14 7 - 45
Melissa 18 9 14 17 - 58
Melissa scoring – Ricky Morning 17, Matt Holloway 16, Kenneth Castleberry Jr. 10, Ezra Monroe 7, Hunter Sparks 5, Mark Fisher 3.