BONHAM — Anna’s Lady Coyotes kept their playoff hopes alive on Friday, Feb. 2, with a crucial 47-37 win at Bonham. Anna led 23-13 at halftime and 36-24 after three quarters then beat back a final-stanza Lady Warriors push for the victory.
Lady Coyote JaShell Evans blew up for 24 points, dominating the paint at both ends of the court. Time and again, Madison Davis, Skyla Mackey, Taylor Medrick and Marianna Bert got the ball inside to Evans and other times Evans drove the lane herself. She also drained 10 of 11 free throws.
Averi Reeves led Bonham with 19 points.
Friday’s outcomes leave the Lady Coyotes and Celina knotted in fourth place with 3-6 district records. Anna hosts Top-4 state-ranked Melissa (28-3, 9-0) on Tuesday to close out the district slate. Win — a tall order — and the Lady Coyotes make the post-season. Lose, and Anna could still face Celina in a play-in game on Feb. 12 for the district’s fourth playoff spot.
Anna head coach Albert Cager allowed there were rough patches this night, but overall the Lady Coyotes came through. “A win is a win,” he said. “Tonight wasn’t the prettiest of games, but we figured out a way to pull it out in the end. I like the fight that we played with. We played really good defense and I feel like we really rebounded well. We’ve got to do a better job of handling the pressure [defense] but for the most part I’m pretty satisfied with the way we played.”
“They were in basically a three-quarter, 1-2-2 press and they really did a good job of taking away the middle — which is what you always want to try to do when you break a zone press. It kind of gave us some confusion but we ran what we were supposed to run. We had a little success against it.”
In the first quarter, Bonham broke a 5-5 tie with back-to-back 3s and looked ready to pull away. But, down 11-5, the Lady Coyotes answered with a Chastity Brown-Littleton layup and free throw followed by two close-in buckets from Evans — the first one via her own steal. By the end of the frame, Anna led, 14-11.
The Lady Coyotes opened the second period with three consecutive steals — two by forward Taylor Medrick and one by Evans — to lead, 19-11, completing a 14-0 Anna run. A spate of turnovers slowed the Lady Coyotes’ push but with two minutes left in the half they still led, 21-13. Evans closed out the period by swishing two free throws for a solid 10-point advantage at the break.
In the third, Anna quickly took their margin to 27-13 on a steal and put-back layup by forward Hannah Howell and an Evans drive to the hoop for 2. That’s when the Lady Warriors came alive with seven straight points capped by a right-side trey from Reeves. Brown-Littleton ended Bonham’s rally with a layup to get Anna to 29-20. After the Lady Warriors hit another bucket, Evans answered with a tough drive through the paint for two more.
With 1:20 left in the quarter, a big right-corner 3 from Mackey sent the Lady Coyotes’ cushion back to 10, at 34-24. She came right back with a steal and half-court drive for a layup to boost Anna’s advantage to 12 with 30 seconds left in the frame.
Howell began the fourth with a basket off the glass, off forward Lexi Stewart’s assist. The Lady Coyotes still held an 11-point lead, 41-30, after Evans’ layup “and 1” with Davis’ assist but things soon got dicey for Anna fans. Before one could say, “There’s sure a lot of purple in here,” Bonham had clawed back to within five points, 41-36, with 1:32 left to play. Reeves again topped off the run with a swished trey.
The Lady Warriors then got the ball back when Anna was whistled for a 10-second violation bringing the ball up-court — but they were unable to capitalize with points. Evans quickly swung the momentum back to the Lady Coyotes, taking a Medrick pass and delivering two important points for a 43-36 lead. Evans then got to the line four times in the final 30 seconds and canned all four to secure the win.
A halftime note: In a rare scene, Cager and the Lady Coyotes remained courtside and took in the evening’s brief entertainment — a large group of tiny tykes demonstrating basketball skills to the sounds of “Thunder” by Imagine Dragons. Anna’s team was loose, smiling and laughing as the kids performed. Cager also appeared to enjoy the scene, applauding with the crowd when it was over.
The move, Cager said, was both practical and advantageous for his team. “That’s one of things we talk about — playing loose and not playing up-tight. Their locker room [at Bonham] is upstairs and it’s very, very small. It’s not a comfortable locker room. I just felt us being out here was better and beneficial.”
Anna scorers: JaShell Evans 24, Hannah Howell 7, Taylor Medrick 6, Skyla Mackey 5, Chastity Brown-Littleton 5.