GARLAND – Wilmer-Hutchins’ Eagles came out blazing in their Class 4A Region II bi-district match with Melissa Feb. 24 at Naaman Forest High School. Blazing, as in 30 first-quarter points while allowing just 6. They did it with speed, length, full-court pressure and, of course, shooting as if the ball had GPS.

The No. 3 seed from Dallas’ talented District 12-4A, Wilmer-Hutchins (15-13) sent six 3-pointers through the net in that dizzying first stanza and went on to win, 78-35. Though the Cardinals (19-14) fought to the end, such overwhelming early momentum proved impossible to flip.

Guard Daunte Williams canned a game-high 15 points for Wilmer-Hutchins while fellow guard Daveontae Lias rolled for 13. Guard Ezra Monroe led the Cards with 10 points and was the only Melissa shooter to hit double-digits. Tavenor Watts, Daxx Dunnahoe and Kaden Segleski each drained a 3 – with Segleski’s coming from way downtown at the final buzzer.

“Obviously, they hit us in the mouth,” Melissa head coach Eric Benton said. “When they hit all those shots early, it just causes all kinds of problems. They were making shots. I’ll go back and look at the film – especially those early, early ones. I don’t think those were defensive mistakes. I think they made shots. They made tough 3s. And as talented as they are and as athletic and deep as they are, if those guys are going to make tough 3s, they’re going to be hard for a lot of people beat – not just us.”

Said Eagles head coach Thomas Billups, “Tonight, we took the scouting report into the game. In the playoffs that’s one of the important things – to be able to scout an opponent and take away some of the things that they do.

“We had one returning varsity player from last season. So everybody out there with the exception of [Lias] was new to varsity. There’s been some bumps in the road early. We stayed together as a team and continued to try to get better at different facets.”

For four Cards - seniors Ezra Monroe, George Lado, CJ Shellie and Jayden Anthony - this contest marked the end of their high school playing careers. Interestingly, among this group, only Monroe was a multi-year varsity player for Melissa. Shellie and Anthony joined the team just this season and Lado came aboard midway through last year’s campaign. Yet, they quickly came together to lead the Cards to an 8-2, second-seed district finish.

“They all brought so much to us in different ways,” Benton said. “That’s the thing that makes them special. … They showed up. They did things our way. They did things the right way. There’s all these positive things that they brought to the table for us that we’re going to point to for all these younger kids.”

“I’m just thankful for the Melissa community and them taking me in with open arms,” said Monroe, last year’s District Defensive MVP. “I’m thankful, really, for my teammates and my coaching staff, everybody, that made me the man I’m going to be and the man I am today.”

“It’s been good,” Lado said. “I had a good time. We’ve got a good community. They come out and show us love every night that we play.” Said Shellie, “It felt like family. Tonight didn’t go how we wanted, but it’s been fun.”

“It’s like coming into a family, like CJ said,” Anthony noted. “It was like coming into a place that you feel like you’ve been before. Just open arms everywhere.”

As for facing Wilmer-Hutchins this night, Monroe said, “I think they shot it really well. That’s not really what they’re known for but they shot it well, and we wound up with the short end of the stick.”

Said Lado, “They came out really fast. We didn’t come up to the expectations. They played their game. We didn’t play our game.”

“They’re fast,” Shellie added. “We just didn’t play our game. They sped us up.” _________________________________________________________________

Wilmer-Hutchins 30 10 15 23 - 78

Melissa 6 7 8 14 - 35

Melissa scoring – Ezra Monroe 10, Daxx Dunnahoe 5, Phoenix Bramhall 4, CJ Shellie 4, Kaden Segleski 3, Tavenor Watts 3, Hudson Czarnecki 2, Skyler Smith 2, George Lado 2.