THE COLONY — Silence from a sports crowd is a unique thing. It’s uncomfortable to be in an auditorium of loud fans who have run their voices ragged for an entire game, but are suddenly reduced to silence. It happens though, and while it’s never easy listening to young athletes on the court screaming and clutching their injured limbs in an otherwise silence room, both benches have to focus on the task at hand and worry about consequences after regulation. If nothing else, the McKinney North girls basketball teams’ run in the playoffs has been aggressive.
The Lady Bulldogs defeated the Seguin High Cougars 53-47 Tuesday night in the Class 4A Girls Basketball Regional Quarterfinals, continuing North’s postseason run with its third straight victory. Amidst a game of fouls from both teams, North led the court in aggression at the expense of two of Seguin’s players.
With six minutes left in the game, Seguin guard Laurynn McGowen went down in the corner after a tussle. Emergency services weren’t called, but officials thought about it and McGowen had to literally be carried off the court to keep weight off both legs.This was the second injury of the game after junior Alarie Mayze also left the court with a leg injury in the third quarter. Both injuries were followed by successful North free throws.
“We just couldn’t slack and we had to stay focused on the game no matter what was going on, on the court,” North junior Chanterria Jackson said. “We just really want our goal and will do anything to get it.”
It’s this aggressive play and focus that has gotten North this far in the playoffs. A similar scene was set last week during North’s 42-39 win over Red Oak high when Lady Hawks freshmen forward Lauren Bowie went down with a leg injury. Opposing teams’ injuries may be stacking up, but North head coach Michael Oldham defends the Lady Bull Dogs’ tough and tumble gameplay.
“I don’t think any of these girls getting hurt are due to our aggressiveness, but we do play aggressive and we’ll put a body on you,” Oldham said. “I encouraged my girls to make Seguin feel them tonight, not necessarily physically, but just to let them know that we were here.”
Seguin and all of the Dallas area basketball teams should know North is here by now. After an undefeated district season, the Lady Bulldogs head confidently into their next round of playoffs. McKinney North (26-4) will next play Frisco Liberty (27-3) in the 4A Regional Semifinals. The game will be at the Culwell Center in Garland on Friday night at 7:30. Frisco Liberty advanced by beating West Mesquite 54-42 on Tuesday night in another regional quarterfinal.
Despite North’s dream season, it isn’t making it easy on itself. North didn’t capitalize like it should have even after to getting to the double bonus before the second half and let Seguin continue to push for a chance at this win.
With 30 seconds left in the first half, turnovers and fouls let Seguin narrow North’s 10-point lead to two. In large part due to the efforts of the ill-fated McGowen who grabbed a missed free throw attempt with five seconds left and cut the score to 31-29 at half. This was not how North wanted to end the half and both Coach Oldham and Jackson said the locker room atmosphere was about moving forward.
“I told them I was disappointed in them. They built a lead and worked so hard to do that and just gave it back in such a short time. I knew we could build it back, but I wanted them to come out with a little urgency,” Oldham said. “I wouldn’t say we kept our composure too well in the end of that first half. Maybe that led to us having a little more composure at the end of the game. Sometimes you have to learn from those things.”