Certain teams just seem to always have your number. For years, that’s the way it’s been for the Waco High girls basketball team whenever it encountered its crosstown rival Midway.
But at long last, Waco High flipped the number in its direction.
The Lady Lions stifled the Pantherettes, holding them without a field goal for the first six minutes of the second half on their way to a breakthrough 43-32 win on Friday night at the Midway High Arena.
Any road win is significant. Any District 11-6A triumph stands out. But a victory over someone you seldom beat? For Waco High, that shone bigger and brighter than the Hippodrome sign.
“Since I’ve been here, we hadn’t beaten them,” said Waco High’s Bervin Brown, in his fifth season as Lady Lions head coach. “It’s kind of like when I first came here, University had a good team but they couldn’t beat us, because they had trouble with Waco. That’s kind of the way we’ve been with (Midway). … Coach (Ben) Holder does a great job with his team, this is a great program, so it’s a big win for us.”
It wasn’t necessarily a masterpiece. But even a “Dogs Playing Poker” portrait can be a work of art in the eyes of the right beholder.
Waco High (4-8 overall, 1-4 district) trailed 21-20 at the half after Midway’s Mary Odedeji put her team in front by crashing the boards for a putback at the first-half buzzer. Still, the Lady Lions led most of the first half and went into the break energized and confident. They carried that feeling into the second half, and when Shay Cobb slipped through the Pantherette defense and spoon-fed Faith Watson for an open 15-foot jumper the Lady Lions took a lead they’d never relinquish again. Watson’s swish gave Waco High a 24-22 edge at the 4:25 mark, and the gap would only widen.
“We played hard and sustained their charge,” Brown said. “They had a good run in the second quarter. I wasn’t sure how we’d respond, but we responded well. At halftime we came out and created a little distance. The main thing is, we had to slow the game back down. Even though we were getting steals we were missing layups. But they were still scoring off of it. Once we slowed it down, it helped us.”
Cobb’s leadership as her team’s floor general also aided the Lady Lions’ surge. Three times in the third quarter, she set up teammates for buckets, twice feeding Watson and later penetrating into the lane before whipping a kickout pass to Ashasah Thibodeaux for a 3-pointer. Thibodeaux topped all scorers with 16 points, while Cobb tallied four assists.
“She is the only true point guard that I have. When she’s on, she does that well,” Brown said of Cobb.
Both teams were able to heavily pad their rebounding stats, because they sprayed missed shots by the boatload. Despite some good looks, Midway didn’t hit its first second-half basket until Brooke Jones dropped in a 10-foot jumper at the 1:59 mark of the third. By that point, Waco High had opened up a 32-24 advantage.
Midway has endured its share of quarantine issues and injuries, and four of the five players that scored in Friday’s game were sophomores. Several varsity players missed the game due to COVID-19 issues. Nevertheless, Ben Holder’s Pantherettes certainly kept scratching to the end. Though they trailed by 11 early in the fourth quarter following a runner by Waco High’s Thibodeaux, they kept firing with fervor.
Midway cut the gap to seven with just under four minutes to play after a Jones floater and a steal and driving layup from Madison Gloff. But the next time down, Waco High’s Faith Watson snatched an offensive board over the smaller Midway posts and tossed in a follow shot, extending the lead back to nine and deflating the Pantherettes’ spirits.
Watson gave the Lady Lions a hearty effort and finished with 11 points, 10 rebounds, two steals and a blocked shot. Ivory Scott contributed nine points and three steals. Thibodeaux totaled eight boards and a pair of steals to go with her game-high 16 points.
For Midway, Jones picked up a pair of steals to go with her 11 points. Gloff finished with seven points, two steals and a block.
After the game, Waco High’s players gathered in the lobby outside the gym and broke out in a rousing cheer. The Lady Lions face a challenging 11-6A slate ahead, but they’ll take a measure of assurance out of this one.
“We hope so. We plan on it,” Brown said. “Tuesday we’ve got (Mansfield) Lake Ridge coming to our place. If we can win that one, that would put us still in the hunt for the fourth place spot. That’s what we want to do is ultimately make the playoffs. Even though it’s a tough district, shoot, we’ve just got to keep getting better.”
No. 25 La Vega 61, Madisonville 46
MADISONVILLE — The 25th-ranked Lady Pirates improved to 2-0 in District 18-4A action by penning up the Mustangs.
Jadyn Iglehart spearheaded La Vega’s strong offensive performance with 15 points. Mar’cyah Willis and Adri’nae West hit for nine points apiece as La Vega moved to 11-5 overall.
Rosebud-Lott 35, Chilton 27
CHILTON — Kiara Walker’s 10 points paced a balanced effort for the Lady Cougars in a solid road win over their Highway 77 rivals.
Rosebud-Lott improved to 7-6 overall and 3-1 in District 17-2A.
No. 19 Lorena 40, McGregor 33
Senior Ashlyn Wachtendorf swished in 13 points to propel 19th-ranked Lorena over homestanding McGregor in District 17-3A competition.
Lorena remains perfect in district play at 5-0 while improving to 13-5 overall.
Robinson 58, Gatesville 53
Trey Stout showed a pretty stout shooting touch, scoring a team-high 18 points as the Rockets shot past the Hornets to close out nondistrict play at the Robinson High Gym.
Jacob Jaro chipped in 13 points for Robinson (7-7), which won its third straight game. It will open up District 18-4A action at Madisonville on Tuesday.