The Ballinger Lady Cats (15-12, 6-1 district) won their third game in a row when they defeated the Grape Creek Lady Eagles (9-16, 3-4 in district) on Tuesday, January 28th, by the score of 54-27.
The outcome of the game was never in doubt, as senior point guard Rosemary Delgado once again led the Lady Cats to victory. The Lady Cats came out strong but took a while to get into their rhythm. At the end of the first period, the score was 10-6 in favor of Ballinger. Delgado scored 6 of those points while sophomore power forward Emma Toliver and junior center Chelsea Martinez each added a bucket.
Halfway through the 2nd period the Lady Cats were up 14-6 and started pulling away.
Delgado would add another 8 points to her total in the 2nd period as the Lady Cats went into halftime with a 27-11 lead. The Lady Eagles were only able to put up 5 points in that period but would continue to fight throughout the game.
Delgado, combined with Toliver, freshman point guard Addison Martin, sophomore guard Jenna Battle and Martinez were knocking down shots from inside and from outside the rest of the game. Their fast pace wore down the Lady Eagles who whose tanks were almost on empty by the start of the 4th period. The Lady Cats defense was contesting almost every shot and not letting the Lady Eagles get inside for layups.
When Ballinger was on offense, they spread out their players, usually with Battle on the left wing, Martin on the right wing, Delgado bringing the ball up and Toliver and Martinez moving around in the paint. This kept the Lady Eagles’ defense from ever getting set. Toliver was able to block out the Lady Eagles under the net and grabbed several offensive rebounds. Martinez would set up just outside the key and didn’t let any Lady Eagles get in for an easy shot. She put a body on every Lady Eagle who tried coming inside and made them pay for trying to get to the rim. Martinez is a physical player who isn’t afraid to take a charge.
Delgado was knocking down shots from all over the court and when the Lady Eagles started guarding her out at the 3-point line, she started cutting inside and making layups through and over defenders. That gave either Toliver or Martinez as underneath options or Battle and Martin as outside options. Battle rarely went inside and that led to the defense having to stretch to guard her while trying to guard the ladies in the paint and block out under the net. Battle’s shots were landing in the basket and her shooting put an additional stress on the Lady Eagles.
In the end it proved too much for the Lady Eagles as the Lady Cats offense wore down the defenders. The Lady Eagles tried pressing the ball on offense but Ballinger has as much speed as any team in the district and the Lady Eagles weren’t able to get many fast-break opportunities.
The Lady Eagles were led by their dynamic #11, junior point guard Taigan Rivers. The matchup for most of the game was Rivers on Delgado but the Eagles also played a zone defense at times. Rivers covered a lot of floor and was the obvious leader of a team that never threw in the towel. She went down 3 times in collisions with Lady Cats but bounced back each time, showing resiliency and determination.
Delgado had scored 17-points by the time the game reached its last minute. With time expiring, she took a pass and put up a nothing-but-net 3-point shot that dropped in to bring her total for the night to 20 points.
Once again, the Lady Cats bench players added significantly to the game. They started off the second half of the game before coach McSherry put his starters back in.
The Lady Cats are a well-rounded team and while they have lost some games to dominant programs like Wall, Jim Ned, Blackwell and Stamford, they’ve shown that they learn from those losses. They’re streamlining their game and the bench players are getting some significant minutes on the floor, which will be important down the stretch as the district games get tougher and the wear and tear of the season takes its toll. Their next game is in Brady on January 31st and then they’ll host Wall on February 7th before finishing their season on the road at Reagan County.
Bearcats ground Grape Creek Eagles
The Bearcats (21-7, 6-1 in district) took to the court after the Lady Cats took down the Lady Eagles on January 28th. The boys hit the floor fast and hard as they took an immediate lead and started wearing down the Eagles (2-18, 0-7 district). They never relinquished that lead as they powered their way to a 62-28 victory.
Ballinger was lead by 6’5” senior PF/C Adrian Anene and by #12, Ryan Elliott. The Eagles #14, senior power forward Dalton Penaluna, had the task of trying to defend against Anene. Penaluna stands 6’3”, a full 2 inches shorter than Anene who was able to penetrate into the paint and elevate time and again. Complicating Penaluna’s effort was Elliott.
During the entire game the Eagles had to plan for Elliott, who with Anene, created a powerful one-two Bearcat punch. Elliott’s most significant contributions came on defense. At one point he picked off 2 passes in a row and then the next time down the court he broke up a third pass. One of the passes he intercepted was a glaring example of his athleticism. The Grape Creek player was being given about a 4’ cushion by Elliott when the player went to make a pass over Elliott’s head. Normally, a safe pass, but in this case Elliott reacted within a split second, leapt into the air a full 20” and brought down the ball. His play on defense evoked cheers the Bearcat faithful more than once. Elliott isn’t a showy player and doesn’t talk a lot on the court, letting his play do all of his talking.
The Bearcats’ “usual suspects” were prowling the floor and making play after play to continue increasing the lead. Junior guard Jon Delgado, junior forward Garrett Dixon and senior forward DJ Cavazos kept the pressure on the Eagles with their offense and defensive play. Cavazos is listed as a forward but he can knock down shots from the 3-point line as well as anyone.
One trait that the Bearcats players share is confidence in their shooting. Delgado has a quickness that catches defenders by surprise. The 6’ guard has the ability to either make quick cuts inside or power his way in. With Anene in the center of it all he has good options if the lane gets cut off.
Anene was able to leap over defenders time and time again and he had patience with his shots, getting good looks and knocking down baskets the entire game. The Eagles had no answer for him. Penaluna did a commendable job trying to defend him but he was spread thin on the court and, just as with the Lady Cats, the Bearcats wore down the defenders and by the end of the 3rd period. The game was well in-hand, 48-19, by that point. The boys would add 14 points in the 4th period and finish the game with a 62-28 decisive victory.
Note: Last week I mixed up Elliott with another Bearcats player and gave credit to him rather than Elliott. I apologize for the mix up. (Please tell your grandmother, Bobbie Elliott, that her email to me was very clear and concise.)