Temple girls basketball player Tyesha Taylor had an idea of what kind of defense Belton would use against her Tuesday, so she told teammate Deja Williams to be ready for more chances to score points. 

Williams heeded Taylor’s advice.

Williams’ production on offense and the defense of the Tem-Cats sparked a 41-28 Temple win over Belton in a District 8-5A game at Wildcat Gym.

Williams led Temple with 13 points and was 5-for-5 on free throws, part of an 8-for-8 game at the stripe for the Tem-Cats.

Williams, a senior forward, had more room to maneuver because Taylor —a 6-foot-3 post and a New Mexico State signee —was usually double-teamed. Taylor still managed to score 10 points on 4-for-5 shooting from the field.

“Deja did real good. I’m so happy for her,” Taylor said. “Deja has been working real hard on her high-low game.”

Temple (9-16, 6-4 District 8-5A) swept the season series with Belton.

The Tem-Cats moved into a three-way tie for second place in 8-5A with Harker Heights and Killeen thanks to Ellison edging Harker Heights 72-69 and Killeen beating Shoemaker 48-37 on Tuesday.

Belton (8-15, 3-7) dropped its third straight game and suffered a considerable hit to its playoff hopes.

The game was close for the first 13 minutes with Temple holding a 17-15 lead after Aubrianna Garcia banked in a 3-pointer for Belton with 3:08 left in the second quarter.

After that moment however Temple’s defense was dominant, holding Belton without a field goal for an 11:04 stretch. This sparked a 15-1 run by the Tem-Cats, including a pair of 3-point plays by Taylor to extend their lead to 32-16.

A 3-pointer by Kinsey Williams prevented Belton from being held scoreless in the third quarter, but the Lady Tigers got no closer than a 12-point deficit the rest of the game.

Belton finished 9-for-32 (28.1 percent) from the field.

“We did a better job communicating than we did the last time we played Belton,” said Temple coach Tamarah Sanders referring to a 48-37 decision on Dec. 17. “They made nine 3’s against Ellison so I knew they would lean on the 3.”

The Lady Tigers were 5 for 16 (31.3 percent) on 3-point attempts after their long-range shooting helped them give district leader Ellison a scare before falling 51-41 on Friday.

“We weren’t coming off screens very well and weren’t setting good picks. We weren’t looking to shoot when we got the ball,” Belton head coach Brenda Gomez said. “It doesn’t help when you’re trying to get open and they’re pulling at your jersey.”

Temple guard Jazzmen Ortiz sank a 25-foot 3-pointer with 5 seconds left in the first half, part of a solid all-around game. Ortiz finished with 12 points on 5-for-8 shooting with four assists and three steals.

Williams led Belton with eight points while teammate Emily Hugo added seven points on 3-for-4 shooting from the field with a game-high five rebounds.

Temple plays at Ellison, which is 10-0 in district play, this Friday while Belton hosts Copperas Cove.

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