The Big Spring Steers and Lady Steers followed similar scripts to victory against Sweetwater Tuesday – struggle early, use defense and three-point shooting to take the lead, then blow matters wide open in the second half.
The results were anything but boring for BSHS fans – the Lady Steers claimed a 53-31 win, while the Steers raced to a 48-37 victory in District 5-3A action for both teams.
The Lady Steers improved to 20-8 overall, 3-3 in district play, while the Steers are now 13-16, 3-3.
Big Spring 53
The Sweetwater Lady Mustangs denied Big Spring's inside star Cerbi Ritchey much room to maneuver (much less score), so it was left to the Lady Steers' perimeter players to pick up the slack.
With Ritchey held in check, Big Spring's outside players responded with a mini-barrage of three-pointers, knocking down six shots from beyond the arc.
Guard Ambra Hill scored 14 points – six from three-point range – and Mary King added nine to lead the Lady Steers.
But the real star of the night was the Lady Steers' defense, which harassed, confounded and ultimately overwhelmed Sweetwater Tuesday night.
The Lady Mustangs were able to stay close for a quarter, but Big Spring's defensive pressure began paying dividends in the second eight minutes.
With Sweetwater holding a 15-13 lead, the Lady Steers' defense went into shutdown mode, holding the Lady Mustangs scoreless during a four-minute stretch of the second quarter.
On the other end of the court, the Lady Steers began finding their range: King, up from the junior varsity to replace an ailing Diamond Mayes, tied the game with a pair of free throws, then Big Spring reeled off 11 unanswered points to take a comfortable 26-17 lead at intermission.
If Sweetwater found Big Spring's defense worrisome in the first half, however, it became nightmarish for the Lady Mustangs in the final two quarters.
The Lady Steers' full-court pressure took any lingering drama out of the game in the second half, blanking Sweetwater for a stretch of more than 10 minutes.
“Our defense is what won us the game,” BSHS Coach Mike Warren said. “You've got to give Sweetwater some credit for the way we played early. They are fighting for a playoff spot, just as we are.”
The victory put Big Spring on the doorstep of a spot in the Class 3A playoffs – the Lady Steers are one win (or a Snyder loss) from clinching third place in the district standings.
But Warren has bigger goals in mind: Next up for Big Spring is a rematch with Brownwood, which is a game ahead of the Lady Steers in second place.
“We can't start off slow against Brownwood,” he said. “We've got to get our offense working early, attack their zone and produce some points.”
The Lady Steers return to action Friday in Brownwood. Game time is 6 p.m.
SWEETWATER (31) – Janell Walker 2 0-0 4; Kinsey Browning 3 1-2 8; Shelby Cason 0 1-2 1; Kendra Cason 6 0-0 13; Suede Shirley 0 0-2 0; Candice Hernandez 1 0-0 3; Alicia Finn 1 0-0 2; totals 13 2-6 31.
BIG SPRING (53) – Ambra Hill 3 6-7 14; Logan Yarbar 2 0-0 5; Leshaunte Anderson 2 0-0 5; Dyrshea Vanderbilt 2 1-3 5; Yeneria Tuitt 2 2-4 6; Mary King 2 4-4 9; Cerbi Ritchey 3 0-1 7; totals 17 13-19 53.
Sweetwater 9 8 5 9 – 31
Big Spring 11 15 19 8 – 53
Three-point goals – Sweetwater (Crosson, K. Cason, Hernandez), Big Spring (Hill 2, Yarbar, Anderson, King, Ritchey); Total fouls – Sweetwater 17, Big Spring 9; Fouled out – none.
Big Spring 48
The Big Spring Steers found strength in numbers Tuesday night.
Head Coach Cliff Thompson made liberal use of his bench vs. Sweetwater, sometime substituting as many as five players at a time.
This continuous wave of fresh legs helped the Steers overcome a shaky start and eventually wear down the Mustangs.
“They don't have a deep bench, and we do. That was a big difference, particularly in the second half,” Thompson said.
The first eight minutes, however, were a sort of mini-nightmare for the Steers, who scored only three points in the first quarter as the result of a new defensive wrinkle thrown at them by Sweetwater.
“They played man-to-man defense against us the last time we played, but this time they dropped back into a zone,” Thompson said. “They covered our big men and dared our guards to shoot the ball.”
In the second quarter, the Steers took that dare, scoring 12 of their 16 point from behind the three-point arc to take a 19-17 lead into intermission.
In the decisive third quarter, it was the Steers' pressure defense that came to the forefront, forcing six turnovers and leading to several easy baskets as Big Spring took command of matters and cruised to the win.
Chazzell Robinson scored 12 points and Ty'ral Menefield added 11 for the Steers, who find themselves alone in third place in the District 5-3A standings.
Thompson was impressed with the way his team rebounded from the rough first quarter, especially with it coming on the heels of a blowout loss against Abilene Wylie Friday.
“I think it shows a lot about their character, about how they were able to weather the storm, so to speak,” Thompson said. “It was good to see that.”
The Steers return to action Friday at Brownwood. Game time is 7:30 p.m.
SWEETWATER (37) – Dylan Bennett 2 0-0 4; Taylor Jones 3 1-3 8; Kaleb Hoover 5 6-10 16; Cole Maxwell 1 1-2 3; Gabe Medellin 0 1-2 1; Tino Martinez 1 0-2 2; Dylan Adames 1 0-1 2; totals 13 9-20 37.
BIG SPRING (48) – Ty'ral Menefield 4 0-0 11; Marc Segundo 1 0-0 3; Ryan Pollard 1 0-0 3; Tyler Graves 2 1-2 6; Tavaris Walker 2 0-0 5; Richard Lewis 1 0-0 2; Sealy 2 0-0 4; Chazzell Robinson 5 2-4 12; Chris Nunez 1 0-0 2; totals 19 3-6 48
Sweetwater 8 9 6 14 – 37
Big Spring 3 16 20 9 – 48
Three-point goals – Sweetwater (Jones), Big Spring (Menefield 3, Segundo, Pollard, Graves, Walker); Total fouls – Sweewater 13, Big Spring 19; Fouled out – Medellin.