West press muzzles Bulldogs in tourney tilt
MCKINNEY -- By the end of the first quarter, the Plano West girls basketball team mustered all the cushion it would need opposite McKinney North.
Battling the Lady Bulldogs in the second round of the Collin County Roundball Classic, the Lady Wolves rode a surging start to a 67-47 victory Friday night to advance to the tournament semifinals.
"We played hard, but we just didn't play very smart tonight," said Don Patterson, West head coach. "We missed a lot of easy shots which we should be more consistent on. North played hard and got after us, but I thought we did a good job keeping the pressure on them."
In compiling its 10th double-digit win in 11 victories, West dealt North its most lopsided quarter at the start.
After securing the game's first basket on a feed from freshman Chanterria Jackson to sophomore Amy Kleynhans, the Lady Bulldogs didn't tickle the twine for the remainder of the quarter. During that stretch, the Lady Wolves worked their press in vintage form, forcing 10 turnovers in the first eight minutes and at one stage, securing takeaways on six consecutive North possessions.
"[West] presses probably as hard as anybody," said Michael Oldham, North head coach. "They press from end to end, start to finish."
Overall, the Lady Wolves forced 28 turnovers.
That opened the transition game and allowed the Lady Wolves to ride everything from a 3-pointer by senior Kiran Lakhian to points in the paint from sophomore Tyara Warren for a 15-2 edge after one quarter.
"In the first half, scared," Oldham said. "In the second half, we came out and didn't play scared and that was the difference. We get out-physicaled by teams like that, but we're better for games like this."
Getting so much as a look at the basket proved a lofty task for the Bulldogs early on due to West's defense.
On the other end, the Lady Wolves had no trouble setting each up high-percentage looks with 11 of West's 12 first-half field goals converted with an assist.
"What we try and practice is moving the ball," Patterson said. "We want to try and get the best shot we can, but we didn't shoot the ball very well outside so we needed to move the ball inside more, and I thought we also did well in transition."
That movement had the Lady Bulldogs scrambling early, with the team settling down after a tumultuous first frame by implementing a 1-3-1 zone from the second quarter on.
"We hadn't seen a 1-3-1, so we hadn't worked much against it," Patterson said. "We were confused a bit at first, but we've got to learn to adjust on the run."
The adjustments momentarily halted the Lady Wolves' surge, with West only outscoring North, 52-45, over the final three quarters.
Things translated to the other end of the floor, where North relied on the trio of Kleynhans, sophomore Mikaehla Connor and junior Alexis Mason for most of its offense. Mason and Kleynhans each contributed 15 points -- with the latter also snagging seven rebounds -- while Connor chipped in 10 points.
The trio went toe-to-toe with West for the bulk of the second frame, closing the gap to 18-8 until a 14-8 West run highlighted by Lakhian and senior Paige Womack spread North's deficit back to 16 points by the break.
It was the Lady Wolves' only unassisted field goal -- a Lakhian putback with 15 seconds left in the half -- that put the cap on a 32-16 output through two quarters.
That lead was whittled down to single digits by the midpoint of the third quarter, with North riding an 8-0 to enter the frame. West had its hand in that run a bit, with Patterson being issued a technical foul after Connor converted an and-1 on a blocking foul.
The technical accounted for five Lady Bulldogs points, drawing North to 32-24, but that would be as close as the tournament host got to threatening the Lady Wolves.
Mixing in the occasional Lakhian 3-pointer or Turner layup along the way, West rode a commanding 15-of-19 second-half clip from the free throw line to establish a 51-34 advantage after three frames.
"I know these kids are always going to come out and fight, no matter what the score is," Oldham said. "It's part of their nature and that's why we don't mind playing teams like West, Irving MacArthur and Plano East. I know they'll fight and that we're getting better."
North surrendered the ball to West just twice in the fourth quarter, but was unable to repair the early damage done.
Lakhian led West with 15 points, three rebounds and two blocks, while Womack added 11 points and three steals and Turner tacked on eight points and four steals.
The Lady Wolves advanced to the semis for a tilt with Frisco Liberty (results not available at press time), with Tuesday night's 7:30 p.m. home tilt against Bishop Lynch marking West's final stop before District 8-5A play.