GATESVILLE — Belton could not be contained early.
Playing in its first true road game of the season, Belton got hot offensively in the first quarter, closing the period with 16-2 outburst and never lost hold of its momentum, defeating Gatesville 67-31 on Tuesday.
Following the victory, Lady Tigers head coach Eric Regier admitted his players simply delivered in the initial moments of the contest.
“For any basketball player,” he said, “when you get to see the basketball go through the rim a couple of times, it can really get your confidence going, and that’s what happened with our girls.
“Their confidence got high after they made a few shots, and then, they took care of business and did what they needed to.”
The Hornets produced their first two points of the night at the free-throw line as Aliyah Trotter trimmed Belton’s lead to 4-2, but Gatesville would not get any closer.
The Lady Tigers responded with 13 consecutive points before entering the second quarter with a 20-4 advantage. Then, they opened the period with an 11-2 run to take complete control of the contest.
Belton’s cushion inflated to 19 points, 39-10, by halftime thanks to a 15-of-30 shooting performance from the floor, including a five-of-eight showing from behind the 3-point line.
“The girls were just executing our sets really well,” Regier said. “They looked very sharp offensively, and they were real clean with their passes.
“A shooter’s job is a lot easier when the pass is on target, and we were throwing good passes and knocking down shots.”
The Lady Tigers tallied eight of their 15 assists in the first half, helping five players finish the game with at least seven points.
Anna Beamesderfer, a senior, posted 10 of her game-high 12 points in the first quarter to go with three rebounds and two steals, while teammate Esperanza Moreno had 10 points and three rebounds as each connected on a pair of 3-pointers. Additionally, McKenna Maddux finished with nine points, four steals and three rebounds, and Ayanna Jones had eight points, two rebounds and two steals.
Belton put together another extensive run in the second half, scoring a dozen unanswered points in a surge spanning the third and fourth quarters to build a 64-18 lead before Gatesville was responsible for 13 of the game’s final 16 points.
Taylor Coward had a team-high nine points to go with a game-high nine rebounds for the Hornets, and teammates Kagen Hunt and Trotter ended with six points apiece.
Now, Belton (3-2) will attempt to build on the performance after entering the contest riding an up-and-down start to the season.
After narrowly winning its season opener by two points, 50-48, against visiting Bryan Rudder, Belton struggled in its first game of the Lady Spartan Classic at Burleson Centennial, falling 36-29 to Joshua.
The Lady Tigers rebounded by defeating Cleburne 38-30, but they could not maintain the momentum against North Crowley, losing 50-42 to end their stay at the tournament.
But Belton rediscovered its rhythm against the Hornets, who lost their first two games by a combined score of 112-55, and now, the Lady Tigers look to begin their first winning streak of the season Friday, when they host Georgetown East View.
Gatesville (0-3) will attempt to snap its skid when it returns to the court Thursday, opening play at the three-day Merkel tournament.
“We just need to play more clean basketball,” Regier said. “We need to eliminate our turnovers, get defensive rebounds, play good defense and not give up easy shots.
“If we can do those things, we’re going to be a tough team to beat.”