Mitchell nets game-winner for Plano: Lady Jags can't hold 10-point fourth quarter lead
Plano Senior's girls basketball team couldn't have scripted a better way to enter the holiday break.
Trailing for a majority of the second half and by as many as 11 midway through the fourth quarter, the Lady Wildcats (14-5) stormed back to defeat Flower Mound (14-5) in a non-district contest, 61-60, picking up the victory on a game-winning jumper from 12 feet from sophomore Kara Mitchell with 2 seconds remaining. Ashley Deary received a quick inbounds pass for the Lady Jaguars but couldn't get off a full-court heave before the buzzer sounded.
"You want to play those good teams so you have the opportunity to get prepared for district," said Lynn Meger, Plano head coach. "We set a little stack screen for the last shot and the ball kind of bounced around and ended up in [Kara's] hands. We got the right bounce and she made the shot. We'll take it."
While Kara hit the winning hoop, it was senior Grace Mitchell who came up big down the stretch, scoring nine of her 17 points in the fourth quarter, including 5-of-5 at the free throw line. Grace also had an and-1 conversion and subsequent free throw with 2:12 remaining that trimmed a 57-50 Flower Mound lead down to four. Moments later, with the Lady Jaguars leading, 58-53, Plano junior Kylee Guthrie knocked down a corner 3-pointer on an assist from senior Haley Wray to bring the Lady Wildcats within two points with 48 seconds remaining. It was Guthrie's sixth 3-pointer of the night (on 6-of-9 shooting) as she matched Flower Mound's Lauren Cox for a game-high 18 points.
"Kylee does a great job coming off the bench and does her job so well and so willing," Meger said. "I have a full team of kids willing to do their role. We were one post down and we had some others step up and we handled (Cox) as good as we could."
Flower Mound, meanwhile, hopes to rebound after squandering its lead down the stretch with an abundance of turnovers and missed free throws. The Lady Jaguars had only five turnovers at halftime but coughed the ball up seven times in the fourth quarter alone. Flower Mound also shot 14-of-28 from the charity stripe.
"We didn't execute out of the timeouts and had too many turnovers," said Sherika Nelson, Flower Mound head coach. "You shoot 50 percent from the free-throw line you're not going to win many games, especially when you get 28 opportunities. You're not going to beat schools like Plano turning the ball over and missing free throws."
The late letdown spoiled what was a superb game from the freshman Cox, who played all 32 minutes en route to racking up team-highs in points (18), rebounds (22) and blocks (eight).
"She's a game-changer," Meger said. "She changes your game and they run their game through her and (Ashley Deary). Early on, we were doing a pretty good job. But man it was a physical game. When we started matching their physicality we got a few calls."
Deary finished with 14 points for Flower Mound, while Jessie Larson scored seven.
"I thought (junior) Haley Shearer did a great job on Deary for most of the game," Meger said. "You won't see her in the scorebook, but she did a lot of things to make Deary's job hard today."
In the third quarter, a sequence in which Cox grabbed four offensive rebounds led to a bucket for Larson before a 3-pointer by Meredith Mihalick put the Lady Jaguars in front, 43-39. Flower Mound led by five after three quarters and saw its lead balloon to 11 early in the fourth following a pair of free throws from Deary.
However, the Lady Wildcats closed with an 18-6 run.
Plano continues at 2:30 p.m. Thursday against Houston Spring Woods in the Sherman Holiday Invitational.