The Texas Association of Basketball Coaches picked the Crawford Lady Pirates basketball team to finish fourth in district 17-2A in their preseason poll.

But on Friday, the Lady Pirates tipped off with the Moody Bearcats for district supremacy. If Crawford (18-7, 8-1) won the Pirates would win the district. If Moody (11-14, 6-3) won , there would be a three-way tie for first place. But the Lady Pirates played their best with first place on the line and overcame the Bearcats, 48-38.

Both teams took some time to get warmed up in the first quarter. Crawford held a 17-15 lead with 2:50 remaining in the first half. But then a spark ignited within the Lady Pirates and they went on an explosive 20-7 run between the end of the second quarter and the end of the third. Crawford’s Cece Villa and Anne Williams sunk a volley of 3-pointers and combined for 19 points in the third quarter alone.

Crawford coach Brandon Ely said this team has been especially fun to coach and he’s proud that they were able to secure first place, but there is still work to do.

“It’s not the ultimate goal but it’s nice for these kids to be able to have it on the wall,” Ely said. “To be picked fourth and now to be sitting here, I’m happy for the kids.”

Crawford turned to a more aggressive strategy coming out of the half. Ely said he knew Moody would come out swinging after the half and he wanted to match their intensity from the start.

“We changed what we did on the front of our press a little bit, sped it up a little more and I think that helped us,” Ely said. “I thought the kids did a great job being aggressive, rotating how they needed to and forcing turnovers. We wanted to put pressure on them and take away their height advantage; because we’re severely disadvantaged in that area.”

Crawford kept a steady rotation of players on the floor throughout the game. Ely said the team’s depth is a big reason the Lady Pirates can be so aggressive.

“I do feel like that’s a strength for us,” he said. “We’re able to get some minutes for our kids. We ran 10 kids out there and that keeps our press faster, our legs fresher and helps our shots go in if we have fresh legs.”

Moody played a hard, aggressive game as well. But it appeared Crawford’s double-digit lead and relentless play had worn the Bearcats down by the end of the third quarter. Then the Bearcats went on a 10-2 run and looked like they might get back into the game. Ely said that stretch provided him with something to improve before the postseason.

“Close the game out without turning the ball over,” Ely said. “It’s always a fine line of taking air out and still being aggressive. I didn’t tell them not to score, we just didn’t want to shoot bad shots the last five or six minutes. Sometimes you get too far away from trying to score and turn the ball over as a result.”

Moody beat Crawford, 46-41, on Jan. 17. Ely hopes that a dominant victory over a tough opponent will help his team’s confidence in the playoffs.

“They knew it was a meaningful game and they performed,” Ely said. “They’ve done that in every game since district. So they should be confident, I’m confident for them.”

Villa led the Pirates with 19 points and Williams added 18 points and four rebounds. Crawford went 15-18 from the free-throw line.

Moody’s Kali Chatham gained 17 points and Canyon Hughes grabbed seven rebounds.


McGregor 51, Bruceville-Eddy 39

Kylie Smith swished in a game-best 23 points to propel the Lady Bulldogs past the Lady Eagles.

Essance Porter added 17 for McGregor (17-8, 9-2). The Lady Bulldogs have already clinched one of District 19-3A’s playoff spots with a week left to play in the regular season, along with Marlin, West and Whitney.

China Spring 64, Hillsboro 27

Six players scored between eight and 11 points for the balanced Lady Cougars, who won their eighth straight district game.

China Spring (18-9, 9-2 in District 17-4A) was led by Jordan White’s 11 points. Abbie Snyder, Taylor Webb, Gabrielle Cleveland and Alex Perkins all had nine points apiece.

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