HARKER HEIGHTS — The Harker Heights Lady Knights played the No. 3 team in the state to a tie after one quarter Tuesday and did so without starting point guard Alexis Dukes.
And while Heights certainly benefitted from Dukes’ return in the second quarter — after the junior missed significant practice time with a concussion the past week — Round Rock Stony Point also benefitted from the return of its post game.
While Heights sports no 6-footers on its roster, Stony Point boasts two, and both, particularly junior Jordan Moore, helped the Lady Tigers pull away in the second half of a 58-45 victory at Harker Heights Gymnasium.
“They started giving the ball to (Moore) — simple as that,” Heights coach Shirretha Nelson said. “They weren’t doing it early on, and as long as they weren’t doing it we were able to play with them.”
Moore, a 6-foot-3 junior, dominated against Heights, scoring 24 points on 69 percent shooting with all but one of her field goals coming in the paint. She also grabbed 14 rebounds to complete the double-double while 6-foot-2 senior Jaiton Walls snagged a game-high 19 rebounds to go with nine points.
Heights, as a team, had 26 rebounds.
“We knew size was going to be a big factor in it,” Nelson said. “I think we defended (Walls) a lot better than we did (Moore), but (Moore) is big, she keeps the ball above her head, and she can put the ball in the hole.”
Yet Heights (2-2) put pressure on Stony Point (8-0) early on, even forcing the Lady Tigers to switch from zone to man-to-man defense in the final minute of the first quarter.
Heights senior Angela DeLaney was a big reason for that, scoring seven of the Lady Knights’ nine first-quarter points, and getting all five of her shots in the paint.
“There were times that we were decent (defensively),” Stony Point coach Keith Allen said, “and when (Dukes) came in the game, she basically did whatever she wanted to do. Angela, the other one, she did anything she wanted to do.
“We knew that those two kids could do a lot, and we played right into it.”
Yet even after Dukes returned with 4:14 remaining in the first half, Stony Point began pulling away, going on an 8-2 run for a 20-15 lead at the 2:07 mark and taking a 26-19 advantage at the half on a turnaround shot by Moore.
The lead ballooned to 17 late in the third as turnovers continued to hurt Heights. The Lady Knights had 24 in the game.
“Every time we come out in the second half, it’s always just full on, like as hard as you can go because our last game we came out (in the) third quarter kind of slow,” Moore said, “but this time we pulled it out and we went hard.”
But Heights wasn’t quite finished as Dukes nailed consecutive 3-pointers to pull her team within 11, part of a 12-point outburst by the junior in the third quarter.
A DeLaney jumper cut the lead to 45-37 heading into the fourth quarter, and Heights pulled within 45-39 on a pair of Dukes free throws to start the fourth quarter. Dukes finished with a team-high 18 points.
But Stony Point returned to its inside presence again at that point and ripped off a 12-0 run, which was capped off by an alley oop from Tamara Marsh to Moore for a 57-39 lead with 3:31 to play.
It was the second straight loss for the Lady Knights, both of which have come to state-ranked opponents, but afterwards, Nelson was encouraged by the fight her team put up despite a size disadvantage against the highly-ranked Lady Tigers.
“I felt like we played a lot better, a more consistent game tonight, even though we struggled offensively,” Nelson said. “But I felt like we played to the buzzer, and we played hard defensively tonight.
“So, I’ll take that good defense any day of the week versus laying down.”