Ryan and Denison had a back-and-forth game going Tuesday — then came the second half. Ryan kept scoring and the Lady Yellow Jackets, well, didn’t.
Along with getting a game-high 22 points from Traeli Calhoun and another 15 from JaKeiya Morgan, the Lady Raiders held Denison to two points in the third quarter for an easy 60-42 win that keeps Ryan (21-4, 5-0 District 5-5A) in a tie with Wichita Falls Rider heading into Friday’s showdown at Rider.
The winner of that game will have sole possession of first place to start the second half of district play next week.
“We have to keep up our energy,” Ryan coach Monesha Allen said of the early test at Rider. “It’s a tough place to play — it always has been. And it seems like everyone over there can shoot the 3 ball. We have to play great defense and do it for four quarters.”
At least early in Tuesday’s game, Denison (15-8, 3-2) was finding success against Ryan’s defense. The lead changed hands seven times in the first half, with the Lady Yellow Jackets getting most of their production from the duo of Zya Nugent and Taryn Gaines.
Ryan went into halftime with only an eight-point lead.
Nugent, who finished with 21 points, hit a quick bucket at the start of the third to trim the Ryan lead to six. But then the bottom fell out on Denison as Ryan used a 14-0 run to take a 50-30 lead into the fourth quarter.
Calhoun scored 14 points in the second half, and Ryan built a 26-point lead. Tija Burns finished with 11 points for Ryan, which outscored Denison 24-14 in the half.
“We watched a lot of film on Denison, and we knew they had some excellent players. We couldn’t just come in downplaying them,” Allen said. “Our goal was to dominate in the paint in the second half.”
Ryan 73, Denison 44
Jay Wilson, a 6-5 freshman forward, scored 24 points and was one of three Ryan Raiders to score in double figures in a 73-44 win at Billy Ryan Gym. Ryan scored 42 points during the second and third quarters to run away with its third win to open District 5-5A play.
“I’m happy with where we are at right now,” Ryan coach Bryce Overstreet said. “It was great to get the win at home.”
Javon Modester scored 15 points and Gabriel Douglas added 10 for Ryan (13-7, 3-0). The Raiders blew open what was an eight-point game through one quarter by outscoring the Yellow Jackets 20-5 in the second.
Wilson added 10 rebounds, while Modester recorded seven of his team’s 24 steals. Kosi Eldridge came off the bench to score nine points.
Denison (5-17, 0-4) was led by Mykel Anderson’s 11 points. Christian Ruebeck chipped in with 10 points, including three second-half 3-pointers. But his last trey in the fourth quarter only trimmed Ryan’s lead to 27.
Ryan has scored 64 or more points in all three district games.
STEVE GAMEL can be reached at 940-566-6869 and via Twitter at @NewspaperSteve.
Ryan 60, Denison 42
Denison (15-8, 3-2) — Zya Nugent 21, Taryn Gaines 8, Suzie Smith 3, Hannah Hittson 2, Zachareia Sommers 2, Ikia Lacy 2, Zaycia Guthrie 2, Olivia Marr 2.
Ryan (21-4, 5-0) — Traeli Calhoun 22, JaKeiya Morgan 15, Tija Burns 11, Alexus Evans 6, Julia McKeathen 3, C’yera Coleman 3.
Ryan 73, Denison 44
Denison (5-17, 0-4) — Mykel Anderson 11, Christian Ruebeck 10, Pierce Barker 8, Rustin Workman 8, Tarrence Gaines 3, Jalen Hess 2, D’Aundre Barker 1, Boston Byerly 1.
Ryan (13-7, 3-0) — Jay Wilson 24, Javon Modester 15, Gabriel Douglas 10, Kosi Eldridge 9, Earnest Brown IV 4, Dan Dickenson 4, Tauskie Dove 2, Gabe Booker 2, Tre Evans 2, Grayson Hendrix 1.