FRISCO – And so it ends.
Melissa’s superb season, which featured a 10-0 run through district play, was concluded on Friday, Feb. 17, at the hands of a big, physical — and hot-shooting — Carrollton Ranchview squad, 68-49, at Frisco Independence High School. The Lady Cards hung tough through two quarters, but Ranchview’s advantages took their toll in the second half. Lady Wolves shooters Maggie Berry and Bry Washington blew up for 23 points each — with most of Berry’s damage done in the first half, Washington’s in the second. Berry canned three-straight 3s late in the second quarter to erase a 24-17 Lady Cards lead, and her halftime-buzzer trey put the Lady Wolves (25-7) up, 28-26, at the break. Washington erupted for 21 of her points in the second half, effectively ending any hopes of a Melissa rally.
“They did a great job of hitting their outside shots,” Lady Cards head coach Heather Lane said. “We had to gamble a little bit, play our zones like always because we’re small, and try to force them to shoot outside. … We had a great first half, down by two at halftime. In the third quarter, they just started chipping away and gaining their confidence. I think in the first half we had them shook up, but in the second half they started getting into rhythm. And they put a little more defensive pressure on us. We struggled getting into offensive-flow a little bit. … We had to switch defenses [at halftime] and we were trying to pay attention to certain players. But their coach made adjustments too and it just didn’t work out for us. We had some easy shots that we missed and they made theirs.”
“That was a great game,” Ranchview head coach Wendy Barlett said. “We knew coming in that it was going to be really hard for us to win, and we knew it could go either way. They’re a great team. We just happened to get hot in the second half. That’s just the way it went. It’s a game of runs and we had the last one.”
Does Bartlett think Ranchview’s physical style wore down Melissa?
“I do,” she said. “A lot of times we’ll get in foul trouble because we’re so physical. We were able to play through tonight. The refs let us play a little bit. I mean, that’s what we’re known for.”
Junior Taylor Thomas, the only Lady Card scorer in double-digits, finished with 18 points. Senior Krista Butterfield was next with six. Thomas and junior Taylor Carney led Melissa with three steals each, and Butterfield and Carney nabbed a team-high four rebounds each. Carney also blocked three shots. Junior Natalie Conlin’s six assists were tops for the Lady Cards.
Carney’s 3-pointer opened the game, but Ranchview soon tied it at 4-4. There would be three more ties in the first quarter before Thomas’ buzzer-beating 3 from Stonebriar Mall closed out the frame with Melissa up, 18-15. Brown’s early second-quarter layup off an assist from sophomore Charley Lane lifted the lead to 20-15 before both teams’ shooting went cold. Finally, with 3:20 left before halftime, senior Esthy Uyi-Ekhator’s put-back sent the Lady Cards’ lead to 22-15. But soon after, Berry’s 3-point show began, pulling Ranchview back into the game.
Butterfield opened the second half with a left-corner 3 that reclaimed the lead for Melissa, 29-28. But the Lady Wolves then made their decisive run — 14 straight points-worth — that staggered the Lady Cards. A Thomas 3 cut the lead to 10, 44-34, but Melissa would get no closer than eight in the third quarter. In the fourth, Brown’s right-side jumper drew the Lady Cards to within eight again, 46-38, but Washington answered with a trey and a layup. Midway through this final stanza, a Washington 3 boosted Ranchview’s lead to 16 for the first time. With 1:20 left, Berry free throws sent the lead to 20, at 66-46, as Lady Wolves’ fans began “na-na-hey-heying.”
When it was over, Lady Cards players, coaches and fans shared hugs — and a few tears — but mostly, it seemed, there was pride in a fine season, one they’ll always remember.
“Overall, I’m just proud of the kids, proud of a good year and some seniors that played really well,” Lane said.
Playing their final game for Melissa (21-13) were seniors Brown, Butterfield, Uyi-Ekhator and Addison Flowers.
“This team had a really good sisterhood,” she said. “They played for each other. … I’m really proud of their fight, their passion, their ‘want to’ and all the hard work that they put in.”