CRAWFORD — When the window cracked open, the Crawford Lady Pirates didn’t hesitate. They wiggled through and escaped.
Crawford used a 14-2 run at the end of the third quarter to snatch control and eventually pound out a 55-49 win over visiting Moody in a tenaciously-tussled matchup of District 17-2A co-leaders on Tuesday night at the Crawford High gym. That surge coincided with Moody’s powerful senior post Jaylah Good retreat to the bench after picking up her fourth foul.
Good, whose surname should really be Great, had her way in the paint much of the game. Using her 6-foot-1 size and her prodigious strength to her advantage, she dominated offensively and defensively, and forced Crawford to often send an extra defender (or two) to challenge her shots.
But fouls proved to be a bugaboo for Good, and when she was hit with her fourth with 3:20 left in the third quarter, it was an opportunity Crawford couldn’t afford to let pass by.
“She’s such an advantage for them, and it’s just a really hard matchup for us and anybody in our district,” Crawford coach Brandon Ely said. “She’s such a good player, tough to defend, tough to block out. On the defensive end, she makes it hard on the inside for us. We hit some shots that make everything work a lot better. We thought we had to take advantage of it while she was out for that time period.”
Without Good to contend with, the Lady Pirates (15-9 overall, 6-0 in district) immediately attacked inside. Ana Maddox and Anne Williams swooped in for putbacks, Maddox helped set up a Aubrey Poole 3-pointer on a kickout pass from the paint, and Williams converted another shot in the paint in Crawford’s 14-2 run, which brought the Lady Pirates from a five-point deficit to a seven-point lead by the end of the quarter.
Moody (14-6, 5-1) kept grinding, as the Lady Bearcats didn’t want to relinquish their district lead without a fight. Good returned for the fourth quarter, and twice scored on the blocks while drawing a foul early in the quarter.
But with 3:48 to go, she took a tumble to the court with an apparent ankle injury, and left the game for good.
Still, Moody kept scratching. With 1:53 to go, Tanna Pruett pick-pocketed a Crawford ballhandler and shot downcourt for a layup that cut the Lady Pirate lead to 49-46. Then with 55 seconds remaining, Lady Bearcats guard Liz Perkins banged in a clutch 3-pointer that sliced the gap to 50-49.
However, Crawford’s supremely savvy junior Anne Williams helped put the game in the lockbox for the Lady Pirates. Williams made five of six free throws in the final 54 seconds, and also intercepted a Moody pass to seal the victory.
“She has a very high IQ in the classroom, on the court,” Ely said of Williams, who led Crawford with 15 points. “You name it, she’s just really sports-smart and book-smart, just a smart kid. Glad she’s on our side.”
The game was hotly contested from the get-go, befitting a pair of teams with district championship aspirations. Neither team ever led by more than three in the first half until Perkins flung up a banked-in trey just before the halftime horn that gave Moody a 23-18 edge at the break.
“That’s exactly what we expected,” Crawford’s Ely said. “I told them before the game that I thought it would be kind of a grind-it-out game for either one of us, whichever one of us could come out on top. We were fortunate to be on that side tonight.”
Good paced Moody with 14 points before limping to the bench in the fourth. Perkins added 11 points and Pruett scored 10.
For Crawford, three players joined Williams in scoring in double figures, as Maddox, CeCe Villa and Canna Payne all tossed in 10 points.
Crawford takes over sole possession of first place in the district thanks to the victory, but there’s obviously still a lot of basketball on the schedule.
“We’ve still got one game left in the first round (of district play), and then the second round is always such a battle,” Ely said. “People have seen you, people have played you. It’s just a lot harder the second time around. The most important game of our season was tonight, and Friday that’ll be happening again.”
Lorena 40, China Spring 34
The Lady Leopards improved to 2-0 in District 18-4A play by plugging its way past the Lady Cougars on China Spring’s home court.
Ashlyn Wachtendorf swished in 16 points for Lorena (18-6, 2-0), and Jasmyn Franklin added 10.
China Spring fell to 0-2 in district play with the loss.
Gatesville 40, La Vega 26
It wasn’t the highest-scoring game, but Gatesville was happy to get on the board in the district race.
Sophomore forward Marlee Ward scored nine points to pace the Lady Hornets, now 13-7 overall and 1-1 in 18-4A action. La Vega, which dropped to 7-14 overall and 0-2 in district with the defeat, received nine points from Jaurne Hubert.
No. 19 Marlin 81, Mart 30
MARLIN – Mystique Womack lit up the nets for a game-high 25 points as the 19th-ranked Lady Bulldogs kept up their hot play.
Womack made 6-of-13 shots from 3-point range in the blowout win for Marlin (17-6 overall, 6-0 in District 18-2A). The Alabama signee also had four rebounds, three steals and a blocked shot.
She also had plenty of help, as Danielle Noble had 22 points on 8-of-9 shooting from the floor along with 14 rebounds. Aniya Williams had 14 points, 14 rebounds, three steals and three blocks.
Midway 52, Killeen 43
KILLEEN – The Pantherettes outscored Killeen 13-7 to close out the third quarter, widening a one-point lead into a seven-point edge and helping spark another district win.
With the triumph, Midway takes over sole possession of first place in District 12-6A at 7-2. The Pantherettes, winners of their past four district games, will play again in Killeen on Friday, as they take on Ellison.
University 49, Corsicana 24
Desirae Mathis scored 16 points as the Lady Trojans stayed unbeaten in District 14-5A play.
University (19-8 overall, 5-0 in district) shares the district lead with Red Oak (21-5, 5-0), who it will play on Friday in Red Oak.
Lyric McGowan also had a great game for University, coming up with a double-double with 10 points, 12 rebounds and two blocked shots.
BOYS No. 16 Connally 84, Southwestern Christian 31
Jejuan Forward’s 26 points helped vault the 16th-ranked Cadets over visiting Southwestern Christian in a nondistrict game.
Korie Black hit for 17 points and Zailin Cleveland had 11 for Connally (12-7), which will open up district action at home against La Vega on Friday.
La Vega 69, Mexia 47
MEXIA – Jordan Willis scored 17 points as the Pirates tallied a nice nondistrict win over a pair of Central Texas teams with proud basketball traditions.
Javon Iglehart added 11 points, and David McKnight had nine for La Vega.
China Spring 71, School Sport (Australia) 44
China Spring held its visitors from Australia without a point in the third quarter to pull away for a win in its final nondistrict tuneup.
China Spring led 35-30 at the half, but outscored School Sport 17-0 in the third quarter to put the game on ice. Antwan Stephens led all scorers with 24 points, while his younger brother Eli Stephens scored 16. Zechariah Bible chipped in 10 points for the Cougars.
China Spring made 10 shots from 3-point range on the night, by five different players.