If the Midway girls basketball team collected any semblance of rust over the holiday break, it’s not at all evident.
After missing the M.T. Rice Tournament final last year, 11th-ranked Midway has put itself in position to alter that outcome this year. The Pantherettes pummeled Round Rock, 69-38, on Wednesday afternoon for their fourth straight win at the event, advancing to the platinum division semifinals on Thursday morning.
That win followed a 70-20 trouncing Midway put on Bishop Dunne earlier in the day. In their four lopsided tournament games, the Pantherettes (17-3) have won by an average of 40.8 points.
“I like the way we came back from the break. I like our defensive intensity,” first-year Midway coach Ben Holder said. “We’re still doing some things that I have some fault with. But so far as a team, I like where we’re at.”
Against Round Rock, the Pantherettes seemed to be everywhere. Midway used a swarming, trapping defense to force a spate of turnovers in building a quick lead. The Pantherettes kept up the intensity in the second quarter, and extended the gap to 38-19 by the halftime break.
Junior point guard Janaiya Davis hounded the Dragon ballhandlers at every turn. At one point in the third quarter, she picked a Round Rock guard’s pocket, then fed Chelsey Harris for an open layup. On the ensuing inbounds pass, Davis slid over to cut off the path of another Round Rock player, allowing Harris to sneakily poke the ball away from behind before sprinting to another breakaway bucket.
“Janaiya does a lot of great things,” Holder said. “She’s very long and she uses her athletic ability to her benefit. But we teach, it starts with your feet. If you’re able to move your feet and stay between the person with the ball and the basket, obviously good things are going to happen.”
Harris energized Midway off the bench, scoring 10 points to tie for the team’s high-point honors with Barbara Benson.
“Chelsey is normally a starter for us,” Holder said. “She had a couple of injuries from back in our first district game, so I held her out of the last two district games that we played. But we’ve rehabbed her and she’s coming back. She’s a phenomenal player, phenomenal person.”
As the pool A winner, Midway advances to face pool B winner Cedar Park at 9:30 a.m. Thursday at the Midway High arena. The other platinum division semifinal will pit Round Rock Westwood against Fort Worth Boswell at 11 a.m.
Waco High 53, San Antonio Christian 44: Perrisha Cox popped the nets for 21 points as the Lady Lions picked up their first M.T. Rice win in their fourth attempt.
Earlier on Wednesday, Tyler Lee defeated Waco High, 59-44, as the Lady Lions went up against their old coach, Ross Barber, who now coaches the Lady Rebels.
Ennis 61, Connally 44: Kiara Glenn pumped in 28 points to spur the hot-shooting Lady Lions over the Lady Cadets.
Connally, which lost Super Centex star Tontyana Sanders to an ACL injury prior to the season, was led by senior Heaven Lang-Tucker’s 17 points, on 7 of 12 shooting from the floor.
University 67, Rouse 52: Could a University-Midway rematch be in the offing? Possibly.
The Trojans did their part to set up that potential battle with a strong showing against the Raiders. University’s win was its fourth straight in the tournament, as the Trojans went 2-0 on Tuesday’s opening day and picked up a 50-37 win over Connally at the Cadets’ home court earlier Wednesday.
That puts University in the platinum division semifinals, as the pool C winner. They’ll play Pearland at 2 p.m. Thursday for the chance to reach Thursday night’s title game.
Antoine Hailey dropped in 17 points to pace the well-balanced Trojans in the win over Rouse. Hailey also led University in the victory over the Cadets with 15 points.
If University wins its semifinal pairing with Pearland, it would face the winner of Midway-Judson for the tournament title at 8 p.m. Thursday. Midway and University played on Nov. 29, but the game was halted when a fight broke out between players late in the fourth quarter.
Midway 68, Montgomery 34: The eighth-ranked Panthers dispatched the Bears to improve to 4-0 in their home tournament.
Midway had a spot in the platinum division semifinals clinched even before the game, but took care of business with the win.
It was another impressive victory for Midway (17-0), which is seeking its first M.T. Rice title since 1983.
The Panthers also showed a nice shooting touch in a 70-47 victory over Mansfield Legacy earlier in the day. Bubba Furlong, a Sam Houston State signee, controlled the paint and scored a team-best 17.
Amarillo 62, Waco High 50: The Sandies used some crisp passing to deny any hopes of a Lion rally in a pool-play matchup.
Waco High trailed 44-33 entering the fourth quarter, but cut the deficit to six on a couple of different occasions. D.J. Montgomery and Ty’ric Crosby both swished in 3-pointers as the Lions sliced the gap to 48-42.
But Amarillo consistently exploited the middle of Waco High’s defense to withstand the rally attempt. The Sandies were sharp on curls across the lane. When Nathan Betts cut across the lane, took a pass from 6-foot-7 post Adam Rivera and scored while drawing a foul with around four minutes to play, Amarillo was able to push the lead back to 11 at 53-42.
Montgomery dropped in 23 to top all scorers, hitting three treys. Crosby added 17 for the Lions.
For Amarillo, Betts finished with 20 points, including 10 in the opening period.
Amarillo lost to pool D champion Pearland, 59-53, later in the day.
Pearland 78, La Vega 48: The Oilers extended their slicing run through their M.T. Rice pool with a comfortable win over the Pirates.
Kelyn Adams had 13 points to pace semifinal-bound Pearland, while De’Andre Reese hit for 16 for La Vega.
Spring Woods 56, Vanguard 49: The Vikings played the Class 6A Tigers tough, but Spring Woods pulled out the win behind 16 points from freshman guard Darian Gibson.
Senior guard Davis Boehm scored 17 for Vanguard, the third-ranked team in TAPPS 4A in the state.