PROSPER — It wasn’t pretty at times, but in the end, a win is all that matter for McKinney High girls basketball coach Debbie Harris.
“It’s a win and it’s something our kids need,” said Harris following the Lionettes’ 53-50 victory over Frisco Heritage at the Prosper Holiday Classic on Friday.
McKinney continued tournament play at Prosper High School Friday when they defeated Red Oak 48-32 later in the afternoon. The Lionettes (9-5) will play in the tournament finale on Saturday.
The Lionettes showed both rust and spurts of strong play during the opening round game — their first game in seven days — but were led by senior Mariah Mitchell’s 26 points – 14 of which came in the second half of the win over Heritage.
Harris said Mitchell climbed out of shooting slump Friday and gained confidence as the game went on, using her size and speed to drive to the basket and getting shots to fall.
“Mariah – she’s going to have to be able do that for us. She’s a Division I player; it’s kind of expected from her,” Harris said.
Along with Mitchell, MHS was led by seniors Jazmin Nelson and Mika Stutts, who scored 10 and 14 points respectively.
The first eight minutes was a back-and-forth affair, with both the Lionettes and the Coyotes trading baskets and runs. But McKinney was able to establish a 16-14 lead.
McKinney would control the second quarter, outscoring Heritage 11-5 going into halftime.
The Lionettes would start the third quarter on a 7-0 run, but physical play from both squads and a heavy full-court press from Heritage would close the gap.
Harris, however, said the officiating caused the game to get “out of control” and took away from the game plan. During several portions of the games both coaches would have words for the officials, with many of the fans in attendance yelling at the officials to call it both ways and “protect the girls.”
Heritage senior Taylor Jackson was injured in a collision with Nelson early in the third quarter, which brought complaints from the bench and the crowd. No fouled was called on the play and Jackson would return in the fourth quarter.
“It led to a lot of chaos from the kids,” Harris said.
Along with a hectic flow of the game, Heritage applied heavy pressure to McKinney, especially in the second half. The Lionettes committed several turnovers attempting to in-bound the ball, with Harris saying her team didn’t respond well to the pressure and her players can handle the ball better than they did Friday.
“We know that everybody in our district is going to press us like that; that’s just something that we’re going to have to do a better job of,” she said.
McKinney excelled in the first half moving the ball in the offensive end, but Harris said the defense lacked execution. The girls, she said, paid too much attention to Jackson and Heritage senior Montoria Tripp, leaving several players unguarded.
Tripp and Jackson combined to score 16 of Heritage’s 21 first-half points.
“I think they had some really easy baskets and it was a total meltdown on our part,” she said.