In their first District 5-4A game of the season, playing against last season’s district champion Wichita Falls Rider, the Denton Lady Broncos proved they could play with the good teams.
The Lady Broncos’ defense was again the foundation for success in the first and third quarters, but the Lady Raiders exploded for 17 points in both the second and fourth quarters to secure a 42-26 victory Tuesday night at Denton High School.
“Going into the fourth quarter, we were only seven points down to the No. 11 ranked team in the state,” Denton head coach Dennis Krishka said. “We had all kinds of opportunities. We broke the press there a few times down the stretch and we missed layups. It comes back to turnovers and the inability to put the ball in the basket. We won the first and third quarters, but the second quarter hurt us.”
April Pena’s 3-pointer as time expired gave the Lady Broncos a 9-4 lead in the first quarter, but Taliyah Brooks, who had Rider’s only four points in the first, helped spark a 17-0 run with 15 points in the second quarter to give Rider a 21-11 lead heading into halftime.
Brooks, who has committed to play at Arkansas next season, led all scorers with 24 points and Krishka thinks she is the best player in the district.
“Our strategy was not to give her an open 3, and we were going to try to double her more to not allow dribble penetration,” Krishka said. “For the most part, I thought we did a pretty good job of that early on. She hit a 3 from 25 feet out, but she also had a few air balls from out there, too. Looking at the game, I thought we frustrated her, too. I think we did a good enough job defensively to win.”
The Lady Broncos had trouble with the full-court press of Rider (13-2, 1-0 district), which led to several costly turnovers in the second quarter. However, Denton was able to work the kinks out a bit and eventually start finding players in transition. Unfortunately, the Lady Broncos had trouble converting those easy opportunities into points.
Le’andra Johnson and Pena led the Denton with eight points apiece.
Brooks only scored two points in the third quarter as Denton’s defense flipped the script by forcing Rider into careless turnovers on its way to a 7-4 advantage in the quarter.
In the final quarter, the Lady Broncos were outscored 17-8, with Rider going 9 of 11 from the free-throw line, but Krishka noted the consequences that come from not playing defense the entire game as he had hoped.
“That’s what we are looking for,” Krishka said. “We are trying to play defense for 32 minutes like that, but it’s difficult to do that. Our defense is predicated on pressure and being in the proper position. When we get away from that and try to gamble a little bit, then it gives them opportunities if we don’t come up with things. I think that’s what you saw in the fourth quarter.”
Despite the opening loss in district play and falling to 4-12 on the season, Krishka said he and his team remain optimistic and that the recent stretch of games has solidified the team’s commitment to defense.
“I told the kids that I was really proud of the way they played tonight,” Krishka said. “If we play that way defensively against our other division opponents, we are going to be just fine. The way we’ve played over the course of the last six or seven games, there is no question about us being optimistic. Our kids are buying into the fact that defense is going to make them successful, and a couple wins in the Aubrey tournament helped them see that.”
PATRICK HAYSLIP can be reached at 940-566-6873. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .
WICHITA FALLS RIDER 42, DENTON 26
Rider — Taliyah Brooks 24, Kiley Beaver 7, Emily Shaver 3, Ashley Reid 2, Mercedes Brooks 2, Abreanna Harrison 2, Skye Catletti 1, Kendall Chamberlain 1.
Denton — Le’andra Johnson 8, April Pena 8, LaNeisha Hudspeth 4, Mariah Seastrunk 4, Myesha Taylor 2.