HARKER HEIGHTS — It was a win.
That was all — a district win.
Harker Heights coach Shirretha Nelson wasn’t excited about much else Tuesday, despite her team picking up a 52-39 win over Belton to open District 8-5A play. The Lady Knights held Belton scoreless for 5½ minutes in the second quarter, outscoring the Lady Tigers 15-0 during the stretch.
“We were just a little more motivated coming into the second quarter,” Nelson said. “We did a lot of things that worked and that was what I expect from them. (For the game), we were hot and cold. We have a lot of new bodies and we are still trying to figure it out day by day.”
Belton (7-11) could not handle the press of Heights, turning the ball over 16 times in the first half. At the heart of the defensive pressure was junior Angela Delaney and senior JaQuan Jackson, who had six and five steals, respectively.
“That helped our confidence,” Nelson said. “We feel comfortable doing (the full-court) press ... and we started to execute on it.”
The run pushed Harker Heights (6-6) in front 31-15, after it struggled to take control of the game in the first quarter.
Belton, which lost to the Lady Knights by 55 points last season, actually led 7-4 after senior Emily Hugo, who led her team with 12 points, drained a 3-pointer from the corner. Delaney, though, came up with a pair of steals and Jackson scored on a steal and a fast break to put the Lady Knights back up 12-7 with 2:57 left in the first quarter.
Brianna Ragland got an offensive rebound and a putback a minute into the second quarter to cut the Heights lead to 16-15, but the Lady Tigers did not score again until a putback by Olivia Wareheime with 19 seconds left in the half.
“We let them get to the lane too much off the dribble and we turned it over too much in the second quarter,” said Belton coach Brenda Gomez. “Twenty-six turnovers is hard to overcome. ... We just did not see the floor and put it one the floor.”
Heights pushed its lead to 19 in the third quarter after a pair of free throws by Jackson, who led Heights along with Delaney with 15 points.
After sophomore guard Alexus Dukes got a layup off a fast break with a minute left in the third, the Lady Knights offense dried up. Belton, which won the rebound battle 34-23, held Heights without a point for a stretch of 6:14 in the fourth quarter, but struggled itself to score.
“Rebounding,” Nelson said, shaking her head. “We had kids in the past devoted to the idea of rebounding. I just have to sell someone on it (now). OK is not good enough.”
The Lady Tigers only managed to hit one field goal and four free throws during the Lady Knights’ drought, never getting the lead cut to single digits.
“Overall it is much, much better,” Gomez said. “Defensively, we did a much better job. We did the right things except the turnovers. This is a positive step for us. Wow, it has been hard to find some of those for a while.
“This was an entire game ... this is a new slate and this was not a 55-point blowout. That is not going to happen to us again.”
Contact Nick Talbot at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7569