By Mike Bruu, TSB Sports Editor
It was primed to be a big night for both basketball programs at McKinney Boyd with the Allen Eagles making the trip up Highway 75.
On the girls’ side, the Lady Broncos could win their first district game of the season on their home court Friday night and get right back into the District 10-5A playoff mix, while the boys squad could continue their hot start to the season and win the first district game of the year at home.
Both schools earned a victory on Friday night as the Lady Broncos topped the Lady Eagles 58-43 in the first game of the night, while the Eagles topped the Broncos 49-43 in the nightcap. The Lady Broncos improved to 1-2 in 10-5A and 11-14 overall, while the Broncos dropped to 0-1 in 10-5A and 16-4 overall.
With Boyd senior Micaela Gonzalez out for at least a week with a possible muscle strain after colliding with an opponent on Tuesday night at Plano, the Lady Broncos needed a big night from senior Julia Hendrieth, who has averaged 17 points per game in three district games this season.
Hendrieth had a game-high 20 points in the win, with 11 coming in the first half, as Boyd would take a 29-19 lead into the locker room at halftime. Neither team could get much going offensively in the first quarter, with the exception of Hendrieth who had seven points in the opening eight minutes.
The second quarter went the way of the Lady Broncos, as they outscored Allen 18-6 in the frame, including a 10-1 run to end the quarter. In the third quarter, Boyd exploded on a 12-4 run before Allen’s Kaitlyn Packett hit three consecutive three-pointers to make it 45-32 entering the final quarter.
Instead of bowing down to Allen’s momentum and allowing them back into the game, Boyd head coach Rochelle Vaughn and her players stayed strong and battled through it, something that has haunted the Lady Broncos in their first two district games this season.
“I think they did a good job of fighting through it because Allen went on a couple runs there in the second half, but we kept fighting and made some plays,” said Vaughn. “I think we are maturing and growing together as a group.”
In the fourth quarter, the Lady Broncos did just enough on both ends of the court to stave off a Lady Eagle comeback and earned their first district victory of the young season. The win puts them at a tie with McKinney High for fourth place in District 10-5A, with the crosstown matchup set for next Friday night at Boyd.
After the game, Vaughn said she was proud of her team’s ability to play all four quarters and do the things they had not been doing in the first two district games.
“I think in our first two games we showed spurts of playing really well, and I told the ladies that if we execute all four quarter that we can win some games.”
The Lady Broncos will travel to Plano East (0-2) on Tuesday night, beginning at 6 p.m.
For the boys, a 17-4 run to start the game by the Eagles was too much to overcome as the red-hot Broncos were cooled off by a scrappy Allen squad. The Eagles were able to force turnovers and get buckets in transition to build a 19-8 first quarter lead, but for the next three quarters the Broncos buckled down on defense and played cleaner basketball on the offensive end to slow the game down and climb back into it late. In fact, the Broncos outscored the Eagles from the second quarter on 35-30.
After taking a 33-20 lead into the locker room, Allen came out in the third quarter and didn’t have much offensive production, only scoring four points in the quarter. However, the Eagles used nearly 45 seconds every possession and kept the ball away from the Broncos, preventing them from making a large run. Boyd would score just nine points in the frame to make it a eight point game entering the final quarter, setting it up to be a sensational finish to the District 10-5A opener.
Unfortunately for the Broncos, the seven missed free throws and eight missed layups finally caught up with the team as Allen made its free throws down the stretch, with chants off “Just like football!” echoing from the Eagle student section as time ran off the clock.
Boyd’s Mikel Parish led the team in scoring with nine points, with seven other players having at least two points in the game for the team. Cameron Epps led the Eagles in scoring with 20 points.
After the game, Boyd head coach Dean Christian said he was pleased with his team’s ability to fight back into the game, but stressed that they cannot afford to get down by that big a deficit early on and expect to win games.
“I was happy with the way we fought back, but it is tough to come back from the deficit we were at,” said Christian. “Allen played well out of the gate and hit us in the mouth early, and that is really all it took. You aren’t going to win too many games in this district when you get down 15 or 20 points.”
This was the Broncos second consecutive loss and the second straight game of scoring 43 points, after losing 51-43 on Tuesday night at Hebron. Despite not having a player in double figures in scoring and having two quarters of less than 10 points, Christian said his team is executing well on offense because they are getting lay-up attempts consistently.
“If you are getting lay up attempts I think you are executing the way you want to be. I thought we shot some three-pointers early that we didn’t need to take, but overall I thought we executed well and Mikel (Parish) played well at point guard. We gave up some offensive rebounds early that helped them get that lead and you have got to do those little things to avoid getting into bad situations.”
When asked what his team can take away most from the district opening loss, Christian said it was pretty clear how strong District 10-5A was going to be.
“Everybody can play,” said Christian. “This district is probably one of the best districts in the state and you are not going to have an off night. Most importantly you can’t lose at home.”
The Broncos will travel to Plano East (1-0) on Tuesday night, beginning at 7:30 p.m. Plano East is ranked No. 7 in the TABC Top 25 rankings.