McKinney Christian Academy’s girls basketball team overcame adversity and a poor first quarter Saturday evening to eliminate the Frisco Legacy Eagles in the area round playoff, 58-30. The Mustangs, who improved to 20-6 on the season, had to win their second consecutive playoff game without starting point guard and co-captain, Julie James, hobbled with an ankle injury.
Overcoming a slow start, the Mustangs advanced to the regional round for the eighth time in their 11 seasons of varsity basketball. On Tuesday, Feb. 25, they will play the No. 1 seed out of District 1, Midland Classical. The site is yet to be determined, but will be somewhere along I-20, halfway between McKinney and Midland.
“This group continues to battle through adversity, through injury and circumstance,” MCA coach Lee Brock said. “We are particularly proud of that. They are relentless.”
The Mustangs got by their first round opponent without her easily enough, blasting Fort Worth Bethesda 68-15, but the Eagles’ guards harassed the Mustang guards into turnovers from the start. When the Mustangs were able to penetrate the perimeter, 6-foot-2 Eagle post Kristen Smith was blocking their shots.
To make matters exceedingly worse, the Mustang’s leading scorer and rebounder, Hannah Wilks, picked up three fouls and failed to score in the disastrous opening quarter. With James’ 17.2 points per game on the bench and Wilks (22 points per game) scoreless, the Mustangs could only manage a 12-footer by shooting guard Jr Kayce Zanetell and a putback by Makenna Schulte, who was seeing her first return to action in seven games due to an ankle she suffered in district play.
The Eagles, on the other hand, were enjoying the Mustangs’ hospitality with point guard Foster taking advantages of some lapses in the Mustang defense to score 9 points as LCA led 10-4 after one.
“That was an unnerving first quarter until we found our footing,” Brock said.
The Mustangs have done it with defense all year — and especially during their 15-game win streak — and in the second quarter they turned the tables on the visitors with a swarming, trapping attack that put the Eagles on their heels. Playing with a sore back that hampered her long range shooting, Zanetell fought through it to get a steal at mid court, picking Foster’s pocket for a layup on the other end. Wilks finally got rolling with some strong moves to the basket resulting in two consecutive three point plays. Senior point guard Sarah Grubbs hit Schulte on the backside for a layup and freshman backup guard Anna Keebler had a steal and a conversion as things were starting to look up for the ‘Stangs, who forged to a 23-13 lead. Wilks had a three-point try rim out at the buzzer, but the Mustangs had exploded for 25 second quarter points and it was all Mustangs at 29-13.
The Mustangs continued their pressure in the third and continued to get fast breaks and open looks. Wilks hit two more drives, Schulte a back side bank on a feed from Grubbs and Zanetell found her range for a three ball. Thompson followed with another, Zanetell got to the glass and Wilks closed the deal with two more freebies. The Mustang defense continued their stingy ways and it was 45-19 after three.
The rout was on.
Wilks led all scorers with 21 points and pulled down 14 rebounds. She also spurred the defense with 7 steals and 7 blocks while avoiding her 5th foul. Zanetell finished with 11 points. In her return to the lineup, Schulte had 8 points and 11 boards. Thompson and Keebler each had 7 points while Grubbs and Vance each had 2. Grubbs led the attack from the point and dished out 5 assists, had 5 boards and 5 steals.