The young McKinney Christian Academy Mustangs take a 1-0 mark in TAPPS 4-3A into Tuesday’s trip to Garland Christian.
That’s because MCA (12-9, 1-0) opened district in fine fashion with a convincing 40-17 win over district rival Canyon Creek Academy of Richardson Friday night at the Mustangs’ Joshua Gymnasium. The Mustangs, Canyon Creek, and Dallas Lutheran ended in a three way tie for the district championship last year in the six team district TAPPS 4-3A, each with 8-2 records having split their matches with each other all the way round. All advanced to the playoffs and each team was expected to compete for the top spot again this year, but it was the Mustangs who jumped out to the lead in this game and in the district race with Friday night’s victory.
The Mustangs play had been spotty of late in the absence of freshman point guard Julie James, having dropped 3 of their last 4 without her to fall to 11-9 on the season, but she returned to take the reins and drive the team to the win. In doing so the Mustangs went early and often to Junior post sensation Kaitlynn McAdams who did not disapoint. Co-Captain McAdams, who averages a double double at 18 points and 12 rebounds per game responded in a big way with 21 points and 12 caroms to bolster the Mustang attack.
The Mustangs are taught that winning starts with defense, and in this game as much as any other they proved they are learning that concept. MCA started with a full court press and incorporated man and zone in the half court to keep the Eagles off-balance, holding them to 3 first quarter points and 7 total first half points as the Mustangs built a 15-7 halftime advantage. It was the individual matchups that were the difference as Sophomore wing Sarah Grubbs hounded the Eagles point, James and Senior Guard Nat Lemieux held Canyon Creeks scorers, Alexis Rene and Kelsey Middlekoop in check with help from McAdams and junior Sidney Thompson.
The offense wasn’t exactly setting it on fire the first quarter. Thompson, Grubbs and McAdams each had single baskets, but it began to warm up in the second behind McAdams, who hit for six in the period including a three pointer beyond the arc. McAdams hit for 5 more in the third and Thompson and freshman back up forward Kayce Zanetell chipped in a basket and it was 24-11 after three. The Eagles had 4 in the third, all by Rene who began to shake loose on her patented drives through the lane, the last one of which put McAdams on the bench with her 4th foul.
Leading only by 13 with their scorer and top rebounder on the bench and Rene heating up, the game was still in doubt. But James took charge and guided the Mustangs home. Down double digits, the Eagles were forced out of their zone and last year’s freshman of the year, Rene, matched up with James, the Mustangs nominee for this year. It was an interesting duel, and although each scored six in the 4th, James got the best of the matchup with her drives to the hoop, drawing Rene’s 4th foul and forcing her to guard someone else as the Mustangs ran some clock. Zanetell added the most important basket to date of her young career on a 12 footer from the baseline and McAdams returned to seal the deal with 8 4th quarter points. Game and first place to the Mustangs.
Again, McAdams led with 21 and 12, followed by James with 9 points and 3 assists. Thompson and Zanetell each had 4 points. Grubbs had 2 points and led in steals with 3.
Rene led Canyon Creek with 14 and Middlekoop was held to 2.