WEB EXCLUSIVE: Tie breakers: East moves past McKinney in win
The McKinney girls basketball team saw its three-way third place district tie broken Friday night.
Unfortunately for the Lionettes, it was Plano East who got the upper hand in the standings by topping McKinney, 55-53.
"It's good to get out of that three-way tie," said LaGwenna Morrow, East head coach. "It was a lot of stress, a lot of pressure and this helps us moving forward. This gives us more confidence for the next game we play as we try to get another win out of that."
Turnovers played a large part in the game as the Lionettes saw a nine-point lead erased by their own doing.
"There's not a lot to say," said Debbie Harris, McKinney head coach. "You can't turn the basketball over and expect to beat people. We shot ourselves in the foot. "
McKinney falls to 2-5 in 10-5A while Plano East improves to 3-4, snapping a three-way third-place tie between the Lady Panthers, Lionettes and McKinney Boyd.
Junior Mariah Mitchell led the way for McKinney with 18 points, followed by juniors Jazsmin Nelson and Mika Stutts, who each scored 13. On the Lady Panthers side, senior Jasmine Caston had a team-high 12, while junior Letty Bornstad and freshman Daria McCutcheon each had 10.
"We had some good outside shooting from Daria," Morrow said. "She had some clutch shots and Letty's always consistent; I see a strong fundamental player when I look at her."
As for her standout senior, Morrow is proud of not just Caston's skillful play, but also her intangible leadership qualities, which went a long way Friday night.
"Jasmine at the end was able to keep the team calm and collected," she said. "And her high post play and being able to penetrate on offense was key for us."
Caston hit a pair of threes to help give the Lady Panthers an 11-7 lead through the first quarter. Mitchell, meanwhile, scored nine of the Lionettes' first 12 points, including the first five points of the second quarter. The momentum continued to shift as hot shooting from beyond the arc helped give McKinney a 25-16 lead halfway into the second.
After sinking a few shots early, several misses and turnovers prevented East from scoring for most of the second as McKinney took a 27-20 advantage into the half.
The Lady Panthers took control for most of the third, as a layup from Bornstad tied it up at 31-31 4:30 into the quarter before senior Kennedy Munson sank a shot that gave East its first lead since the first quarter, 33-31.
"What I saw that was different was we were just so slow, just stagnant during the first half," Morrow said. "We basically watched the game instead of participating in it and that's very unlike us. If we were to stay that way, the outcome would have been different."
The Lady Panthers' third quarter surge swung the momentum back into their corner, erasing the Lionettes' nine-point lead.
"I thought our lack of effort on the defensive end killed us tonight," Harris said. "We were in spots we needed to be in, but we weren't aggressive. We let people get off too many shots and it hurt us."
With 3.97 seconds left before the fourth, and the Lionettes in-bounding from the other side of the court, Stutts made a half-court three-pointer beater to give McKinney the 38-37 lead.
The shots from downtown fell for both teams as the Lionettes and Lady Panthers traded a few 3-pointers early in the fourth.
Halfway through the final frame, the Lady Panthers had built a 51-46 advantage. Despite East's best efforts to run out the clock, McKinney cut it to 51-50 inside of the final minute. Bornstad's layup with 40 seconds remaining gave the Lady Panthers a slightly larger cushion at 53-50. Free throws followed for both squads as the Lady Panthers held on for the 55-53 victory.
"We shoot ourselves out of ballgames because we don't have the depth," Harris said. "We're learning and that's all we can do."
McKinney returns to action Tuesday when it hosts Plano West at 6 p.m., while East travels to Plano Senior at 7:30 p.m.