BELTON — The Belton Lady Tigers’ style of play is designed to slow down the game, with a pass-happy offense and an attacking 2-3 zone defense.
When it’s successful, opponents can go through long stages without scoring a basket, just as the Ellison Lady Eagles discovered Friday at Tiger Gym.
The key, though, is to take advantage of the opponent’s scoring droughts, and that’s where Belton struggled in a 37-12 loss to Ellison.
“I felt like we did a fair job blocking out,” Belton coach Brenda Gomez said. “We needed a few more offensive rebounds, but we didn’t shoot enough.”
The Lady Tigers (9-18, 1-6 District 12-6A) took just two shots in the first quarter and were scoreless until Esperanza Moreno made a free throw with 3:44 left in the second.
They hit their first field goal a little more than a minute later — a Jocelyn Brewer hook shot — and trailed 13-3 at the break after attempting just eight shots in the first half.
“I don’t think we worked very hard to get open,” Gomez said. “We tried to beat them in a sprint. I think we were intimidated a little bit with the speed. We can’t beat them in a foot race. We have to work strategically.”
Ellison coach Sherry McKinnon said utilizing her players’ speed was the game plan.
“We worked and worked and tried to use our speed and quickness,” she said. “If we put some pressure and wear them down, maybe they wouldn’t make as many shots.”
Ellison (13-7, 5-1) had its own issues dealing with Belton’s defense, making just five of 17 shots in the opening half as the teams traded a multitude of turnovers.
“We knew what Belton was going to do defensively in that zone,” McKinnon said. “We worked it and worked it. We just needed to put the ball up more and get more transitions.”
Ellison led 10-0 after the opening quarter, scoring all of its points off four steals in a span of 2:10.
A free throw and a basket in the paint accounted for all of the Lady Eagles’ second-quarter points, and both coaches gave the same halftime message to their teams.
“We need to put the ball in the hole,” McKinnon said. “We were doing real good defensively. But offensively, we needed to finish shots.”
Gomez’s halftime sentiments were similar.
“It’s a 10-point game, don’t be afraid to attack,” she said.
On the opening possession of the second half, the Lady Tigers did just that as McKenna Maddux drew a foul while driving the lane and quickly cut the lead to 13-5 with both free throws.
But when Ellison answered just as quickly with a basket by Nylia Mobley and the next three Belton possessions came up empty, the game reverted back to the slow style and Ellison led 20-8 entering the final frame.
“After the (Christmas break), we were a little out of our routine, and I think they just got tired,” Gomez said. “Just getting back into a routine will make a little bit of a difference. We also need to increase our intensity in practice and I think we’ll come out different.”
Ellison’s Evelyn Lorenzo led all players with 12 points, and Di’Ambria Whyte added eight.
Moreno and Brewer had four each for Belton.
FRIDAY'S 12-6A SCORES
- Ellison 37, Belton 12
- No. 15 Harker Heights 70, Copperas Cove 55
- Temple 49, Waco 45
- No. 21 Waco Midway 56, Shoemaker 43
- BYE: Killeen
12-6A GIRLS BASKETBALL
Harker Heights (6-1)
Waco Midway (5-1)
Copperas Cove (2-4)