McKINNEY — Melissa’s Lady Cardinals (4-3) split a pair of non-district road games with Class 5A foes last week — topping Lebanon Trail in overtime before getting edged by McKinney North on Friday.
At McKinney North, the Lady Bulldogs rallied from eight down in the fourth quarter to win, 54-51. Melissa had given its hosts fits most of the night with good ball movement and solid pressure on defense.
Guard Wendy Clemmons canned a team-high 14 points for the Lady Cards, followed by forward Ashley Gideon with 12. McKinney North’s two big shooters — Amaria Fields and Chelsea Wooten — came on strong late to finish with 23 and 20 points, respectively. Nearly half of Fields’ total came in the fourth frame.
“We’re extremely disappointed that we lost,” Melissa head coach Chris Oestreich said. “We kind of took our foot off the gas. We didn’t handle their pressure there at the end and had some key turnovers that turned into buckets for them. That’s what cost us the game. It snowballed on us.
“All in all, I thought we did a pretty good considering the circumstances with two or three kids that are sick. And I’ve still got kids, honestly, that are trying to figure out ‘How do you play in a big moment? How do you win a game in the big moment?’” As an example, Oestreich noted five missed free throws in the fourth quarter. “We can’t miss those free throws down the stretch.”
Asked the keys to her team’s rally, McKinney North head coach Veronica Hamilton said, “We just got in the press and had to stick with it and try to be quick in the passing lanes and get them to make a mistake. They weren’t making too many. … Honestly, I just think that we hung in there. They made some tough shots.”
Melissa was in good shape as the fourth began, leading 42-34 on Gideon’s jumper in the lane off of a Mya Ellis feed; then 44-36 when Gideon popped another “J” after Mia Ellis’ steal. But then Fields and Wooten started to get untracked. After a pair of Fields free throws and Wooten’s swished trey, the Lady Cards’ lead was down to 45-44 with three minutes left to play. A Lady Bulldogs layup soon gave McKinney North its first lead since the early third quarter.
Clemmons fired back with a 3 and Melissa led again, 48-46. Then with 1:50 remaining, Jaydyn Bullard swished home two free throws and the Lady Cards had breathing room at 50-46. But a crucial series followed as the Lady Bulldogs made a final push. A Fields layup drew McKinney North to within two then Wooten made perhaps the steal of the game and put it in the hole for a 50-50 tie. Clemmons’ free throw put Melissa up once more with 1:19 to go but another Lady Bulldogs steal led to Fields’ put-back layup for the lead.
The Lady Cards inbounded the ball under McKinney North’s goal with 37 second left and worked for the last shot. Melissa then called timeout with 24 seconds remaining and inbounded from the half-court. A final Lady Bulldogs steal sent Fields to the line with 11.7 left — and she sank both shots for McKinney North’s 54-51 final margin.
Mya Ellis got a last-ditch look from downtown to tie but the shot wouldn’t fall.
Lady Cards 42, Lebanon Trail 39 (OT)
On Nov. 19, the Lady Cards traveled to Frisco for the overtime victory over Lebanon Trail. Melissa put up a strong first quarter then trailed by five at halftime before charging back to win. The Lady Cards connected on 11-of-16 free throws over the fourth quarter and overtime period to close it out. Clemmons sank 4-of-5 shots from the line in OT to finish with a team-high 17 points and Moothart chipped in 10 points. Lebanon Trail (4-3) was led by Mia Smith, with 17 points as well.
“One thing we hang our hat on is defensive energy and pressure,” Oestreich said, “and that’s ultimately what won the game.”
Melissa 12 7 21 11 - 51
McKinney N. 14 6 14 20 - 54
Melissa scoring - Wendy Clemmons 14, Ashley Gideon 12, Grace Moothart 9, Mia Ellis 7, Jaydyn Bullard4, Mya Ellis 3, Katie Sparks 2.
Melissa 11 7 8 9 7 - 42
Leb. Trail 5 18 3 9 4 - 39
Melissa scoring – Wendy Clemmons 17, Grace Moothart 10, Katie Sparks 4, Ashley Gideon 4, Mya Ellis 3, Mia Ellis 3, Jaydyn Bullard 1.