When the starting gun for the girls’ high school basketball playoffs sounded this week, the Marlin Lady Bulldogs shot out of the blocks.

Marlin raced past its Class 2A bi-district opponent Valley Mills, scoring 14 points in the first 3 minutes of action as the Lady Bulldogs cruised to a 65-38 victory on Tuesday evening at University High School gym.

Lady Bulldogs’ star guard Mystique Womack, an Alabama signee, put her signature on the playoff opener very early. Womack came up with a couple of steals and fast-break layups, nailed a 3-pointer and dropped off an assist for forward Danielle Nobles during Marlin’s game-opening 18-2 run.

Valley Mills eventually settled into the contest and answered a few Lady Bulldog baskets. But the Lady Eagles were overwhelmed at the beginning and it kept them from ever threatening to pull off an upset.

“We’ve started like that pretty much most of our games all season,” Marlin coach Lawrence Gullette said. “It’s kind of good that we came out comfortable, doing things that we normally do.”

Marlin Valley Mills

Valley Mills’ Tyra Sadler (5) scores past Marlin guard McKenna Johnson (2) and other defenders in the second half of Tuesday’s bi-district championship game at University High School.

Marlin advances in the Class 2A Region 3 playoffs to face the winner of Tuesday’s Cayuga vs. Centerville game.

The Lady Bulldogs (26-6) warmed up in bright orange shirts with the slogan “Road To State” emblazoned on the back. It’s a path Marlin knows well after reaching the 3A state final last season.

Mount Vernon defeated the Lady Bulldogs by four points in the state final last March. This time around, Marlin seems determined to finish its run to a championship.

Gullette pushed his team throughout the contest on Tuesday, calling timeout to stress defense in the fourth quarter despite the fact that the Lady Bulldogs were leading by 25 points at the time.

“I don’t want to get too relaxed or anything like that,” Gullette said. “With the style of play, we’re kind of overbearing at times and I want to keep that focus. We want to make sure we play our best game and stay sharp.”

Marlin Valley Mills

Marlin guard Mystique Womack (10) scores over Valley Mills' Avery Huffman (24) in the first half.

Womack fueled Marlin on the offensive end as she finished with 26 points and 5 assists. Nobles added 13 points and 7 rebounds and Aniya Williams pitched in 10 points.

Valley Mills senior guard Tyra Sadler and junior forward Hannah Robinson each scored 13 points to lead the Lady Eagles. Sadler finished her high school hoops career by nailing a 3-pointer from the corner as the buzzer sounded.

Crawford 59, Wortham 32

The Crawford Lady Pirates heated up late in the second quarter and built a 15-0 run to take control of Wortham in the nightcap of the playoff hoops doubleheader at University High School.

The Lady Pirates advance in the Class 2A Region 3 playoffs to face the winner of Tuesday’s Lovelady versus Itasca game.

Crawford guard Cecelia Villa drilled a trio of 3-pointers during the decisive run, two in the final minute of the first half. The Lady Pirates’ run gave them a 33-14 advantage at halftime and they refused to let Wortham back in the contest.

Crawford Wortham

Crawford’s Cecelia Villa (right) drives past Wortham’s Skylar Phillips in the first half of Tuesday’s bi-district championship game at University High School.

Villa’s hot shooting streak gave Crawford the separation it needed as the Lady Pirates dominated the rebounding category on both ends of the floor. Crawford forward Ana Maddox scored 18 points and grabbed 6 rebounds to lead the way. Villa added 12 points, all from beyond the arc.

Guard Skylar Phillips scored 14 points to pace Wortham.

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