WYLIE — With barely more than half as many players on the roster as McKinney Boyd, Richardson High’s girls basketball team should have looked like the underdog Tuesday night. It had no squad of cheerleaders chanting the players’ names, its fans were quiet, and its coach was more laid back than worried about layups.
Boyd, on the other hand, was what you might expect to see from a team that just barely scraped into playoffs due to an unexpected win against crosstown rival McKinney High. The Lady Broncos’ deep roster was restless, their cheerleaders loud and their fans outspoken at every moment.
But the Richardson fans, much like the players and coach, knew what was coming. There was no need to get too worked up. This would be a mismatch.
And a mismatch it was. Richardson won 68-37 in the opening bi-district round of the Class 5A playoffs at Wylie High School. And Richardson hardly broke a sweat. It led Boyd 13-5 after the opening quarter and 31-14 by halftime. The Lady Eagles, who won their district with a record of 11-1 this season, didn’t seem worried all game and left Boyd, 4-6 and District 10’s No. 4 seed, to defeat themselves. Turnovers, blind passes and lack of communication haunted Boyd’s squad all game while Richardson’s talent shined.
“We got away from our ‘we’ game and started playing our ‘I’ game. We were making bad decisions, bad shots and forcing when we shouldn’t,” Boyd head coach Rochelle Vaughn said. “I think a lot of girls were nervous and trying to do too much, instead of doing what got us here and playing team ball.”
Boyd certainly didn’t make it easy on itself, but Richardson would have been tough to stand against even on the Lady Broncos’ best day. Going into the game, Vaughn knew to watch out for Richardson’s Dorian Branch and Nautica Grant, whose talent she expected to make or break the outcome.
“We knew they had two pretty good shooters,” Vaughn said. “They were making some pretty deep threes. At one point Grant was taking near-NBA range shots and she was hitting them. They were making threes, so we had to come out and guard them and that’s when they started hurting us on the inside.”
Boyd had its struggles all game, but the third quarter did showcase the rising talents of Boyd’s younger players. Strong efforts from sophomores Jordynn Hernandez and Taylor Crain hinted at the skills this team could have in time. Both girls went hard in the paint and made opportunities unseen for most of the game prior.
“Getting time out there in such a crucial game gave us a chance to learn and get better,” Hernandez said.
The Lady Broncos will have plenty of challenges next year when they play in the newly established 6-A division with teams like Allen and Flower Mound. The UIL realignment will hold for two years, just enough time for Hernandez and Crain to make their mark before graduating.
“They’re gonna be a lot stronger and a lot taller, so we’re gonna have to learn to box out, play more physical and work on our defense,” Crain said. “If we pull it together and stay positive, we can do anything.
Carla Kaufman and Khalia Stampley led Boyd with eight points each Tuesday.
Despite the early end to their playoff run, the last two minutes of the game showcased the team Boyd had the skill to be. The seniors took to the court for the last time where they successfully defended Richardson’s offense and only let them get three points in the final moments. It may not have been enough to beat the Lady Eagles, but it showed that this team would never give up on the game they love, their fans and each other.