BELTON — No doubt Belton coach Brenda Gomez was happy her Lady Tigers picked up a 54-31 victory over Waco on Tuesday night at Tiger Gym. What Gomez was not so happy about was the inconsistency of her team’s play after building a big early lead.
“We were moving the ball well. Defensively we did a good job,” Gomez said of her team’s play in the first half. “I feel like we did some really good things. Defensively we moved well. We blocked out. It was a great first half of Belton basketball and then it left.
“I don’t know why we stopped playing as well as we did. Maybe in the second half we thought it was over and we could go at it kind of nonchalantly. I don’t attribute either half to one or two people. It was (all) 11 kids. I feel like they played hard but they didn’t play smart in the second half.”
Down 37-8 to start the third quarter, Waco (0-6) scored the first four points of the second half to cut into the Lady Tigers’ lead. Belton (5-4) responded with a 10-2 run that included three-point plays by Keilee Burke and Elicia Jackson as its lead ballooned to 34 points, its largest of the night.
Down by 31 points going into the final quarter, the Lady Lions turned on the defensive pressure to start the fourth. Waco forced 11 of Belton’s 16 turnovers in the second half.
“It took us a little too long to get things going,” Lady Lions coach Ross Barber said.
Waco went on a 12-2 run in the fourth to cut its deficit to 19 points, before the Lady Tigers added a couple late buckets to make the final deficit 23.
“Waco didn’t make us do that. We did it. It was like self-destruction,” Gomez said. “It wasn’t just the young kids. It wasn’t just the veterans. The entire Belton (team) was not blocking out, was not communicating on defense, was not getting back on defense. It’s frustrating that it’s happening on Nov. 29, especially when we have our first district game on Dec. 9.”
The Lady Tigers led 9-0 in the early going after a pair of buckets by Jackson, a 3-pointer by Cammie Moore and a steal and lay-in by Presleigh York.
Belton extended its lead to 24-3 after Hannah Martin sank a layup and then a 3-pointer. The Lady Tigers led 27-5 at the end of the first quarter after a 3 by Elisa Priddy.
Belton continued to pour it on in the second quarter, limiting the Lady Lions to three points in the frame as it took a 29-point advantage into halftime.
“It was a good first quarter, an OK second quarter and then we seemed to stay in the locker room in the second half,” Gomez said.
Jackson led Belton with 15 points while Moore added 11, all in the first half. Martin and Burke added nine each for the Lady Tigers, who will compete in the Jack Frost tournament in Georgetown on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
“It can be really ugly if we don’t change our mentality,” Gomez said. “We’ve got to learn that possession of the ball is more important than anything else in the game of basketball. It’s not great passes, it’s not blocked shots, it’s not steals, it’s just taking care of the ball.”
Janesha Mosley led Waco with nine points. Perrisha Cox added six and Montierra Warren had five.