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The Staley Show: Allison's deep-range shooting propels West past Plano, 58-46
Plano West senior Allison Staley pulled down her team's final three rebounds Friday night against Plano Senior.
After all, Staley had done plenty of the heavy lifting as she made 6-of-8 from beyond the arc for a game-high 26 points to go with her six rebounds in the Lady Wolves' 58-46 victory over the Lady Wildcats. Staley's point total was more than the combined output of West's next three highest scorers, freshman Natalie Chou (10 points), senior Devri Owens (eight) and junior Tyara Warren-Cox (six).
"Devri was off tonight, Ty was off and Natalie was in and out there before really picking it up in the second half," said Don Patterson, West head coach. "If it wasn't for Allison, there is no way we win this game."
After dropping a 72-62 decision to Plano (8-1 in district) on Jan. 15, West (8-1) needed a victory Friday to keep its hope for a fifth straight district title alive.
"I told the girls before the game 'we already have four in a row and we don't want that streak to end,'" Patterson said.
"That was a top priority for us; the reason we needed to win," Staley added. "I think that's why we had so much energy tonight compared to last game."
The loss kept Plano from winning its first outright district title in more than a decade.
"I think the girls were a little disappointed at first, but I told them 'we're still even with them, we're still tied for first place,'" said Lynn Meger, Plano head coach. "We beat them by 10 and they beat us by 12, I'd say that makes us pretty equal. Plus, we were able to come into West's gym and give them a scare, that's not easy to do."
Plano brushed off a start in which it turned the ball over on its first five possessions and went on a 13-3 run through the end of the first quarter and beginning of the second for a 17-10 advantage. The surge was largely paced by senior Wilma Afunugo, who controlled the inside on her way to a team-high 16 points and 10 rebounds. The final four points came from senior Haley Wray, who had seven points and seven rebounds. She followed a 3-pointer with a free throw after a technical foul on Patterson.
Free throws were par for the course in the first half as Plano made 16-of-23 from the charity stripe and just three field goals. West responded with Staley, who accounted for the team's final eight first-half points to give the Lady Wolves a 24-23 halftime edge.
"I think there was a time in the second quarter where I started screaming for the ball," Staley said.
Staley also hit a 3-pointer toward the end of the third quarter to put the home team back in front, 37-35, heading into the fourth.
"A was a little surprised because I kept getting a lot of open shots," Staley said.
"When we were able to swing the ball a couple times we were getting Allison open looks," Patterson said. "And when she gets hot, knocks down maybe two or three of those shots, you know she is going to make a bunch more."
Plano senior Grace Mitchell tied the game early in the final frame on a pair of free throws, but another Staley three made it 40-37, a lead West wouldn't relinquish.
Chou was held without a field goal in the first three quarters, but broke that trend during a 30-second span in the fourth with a field goal followed by an and-1 to put the Lady Wolves in front, 45-39, with 5:36 remaining. West's defense cranked it up from there as sophomore Sydney Skinner drew an offensive foul and then senior Randi Reinhardt made a steal and layup to put the score at 56-44. Reinhardt chipped in six points while sharing the team-high in boards at seven with junior Kaelin Montgomery.
"We did some good things in the second half," Patterson said. "Our defense definitely got going and we were able to shake them a bit, but we also did a better job with our defensive rebounding and kept them from getting putbacks."
Mitchell scored 10 points while sophomore Kara Mitchell added seven points and five rebounds. It wasn't enough though as Plano suffered its first district defeat, 58-46.
"If West is as good as they are touted to be this was a good game for us to have; it was like a playoff game and that's what we're setting up for," Meger said. "We made it into the playoffs by the skin of our teeth last year and now, with the same girls as last year, we can still win a district title. That says a lot about this team's heart."
West closes the regular season on the road against Plano East at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday while Plano hosts Allen at 6 p.m.
"It won't be easy," Meger said, "but we are looking at that game like it is a must win."