Lion's roar: McKinney girls overcome early setbacks, beat Mesquite
MCKINNEY -- In a game in which there were over a dozen lead changes, the McKinney girls basketball team overcame an 11-0 first quarter deficit to edge past Mesquite, 46-45 Friday night.
"It was probably the best win that we've had all year," said Debbie Harris, McKinney head coach. "Mesquite is an extremely talented team, very athletic, so it was a very good win for us. We needed it."
It was McKinney's third game in the Collin County Roundball Classic from Boyd High School. The Lionettes (7-6) had won their tournament opener against Frisco Wakeland, 54-40, before dropping their next game against Lincoln, 57-25.
Junior guard Mariah Mitchell gave a tremendous effort for McKinney, scoring 32 of the Lionettes' 46 points.
"She had an incredible game," Harris said. "Mariah creates a lot of things because she's so athletic and our team is better when she can create because it opens everybody else up."
In addition to Mitchell, junior forward Jazsmin Nelson also contributed a game-changing performance.
"Jazsmin played well, too," Harris said. "She's always going to be a strong player for us. She does a great job; we can play her inside or out. She's very poised and does a good job for us."
Mesquite came out strong, jumping out to a quick 11-0 lead in the first quarter. The Lady Skeeters would lead 15-6 after the opening frame.
The Lionettes, though, were far from buried, as they would charge back in the second quarter, cutting the Lady Skeeters' lead to just three at 21-18.
"The deficit, a lot of that was because we made a lot of mistakes on our end," Harris said. "When you make better decisions on shot selections, then you start to chip away at that. We're our worst enemy at times, so it's a growing process. It says a lot about this team that they didn't quit and made the adjustments on defense. I'm proud of them."
McKinney would continue to keep it close for the rest of the first half, building up to a 27-24 Mesquite lead at the half. The Lionettes, however, would tie it up and then capture the lead on a couple of free throws early into the third quarter, 28-27.
The two teams would then wage a fierce back-and-forth battle that included several lead changes, with neither team leading by more than two until the Lionettes grabbed a four-point lead at the end of the third quarter, 35-31.
"If nothing else, we had our confidence," Harris said. "The fact that it was a back-and-forth game was good for our kids. We made some silly mistakes that we'll learn from and hopefully not make in February."
The game, though, would quickly return to its alternating one to two-point lead pattern for the two teams.
"Handling the ball under pressure hurt us," Harris said. "Our guards need to do a better job and be a lot more physical."
Harris credits improvement in two main areas for her team's ability to not only come back from an 11-point deficit, but stick with Mesquite the rest of the way.
"I thought we did much better on blocking out on defense," she said. "And offensively we improved in our shot selection."
With under a minute left in the game, the Lionettes would fight back and gain another four-point lead, giving them the slim cushion they needed in the one-point victory.