Shooting Woes Sink John Tyler Girls In Playoff Loss To Mansfield Lake Ridge
WILLS POINT -- It was just one of those nights for John Tyler.
The Lady Lions shot about 25 percent from the floor and that was barely enough for Mansfield Lake Ridge to eliminate them for second straight season, a 40-34 decision in Wednesday's Class 5A Region II quarterfinal round game at Wills Point High School.
"We talked all year long about, 'We've got to play better. The team that wins is the team that plays better,'" JT head coach Mike Smith said. "I guess better means making baskets, you know. But playing harder. I think we played harder tonight. I think we have a better team. The ball didn't fall."
The Lady Lions (31-5) recorded nine steals in the playoff game to Lake Ridge's four and won the turnover battle by a significant margin.
But it takes a favorable point differential to advance in the state playoffs.
Lake Ridge (18-14) connected on 11 of 29 shots and hit 15 of 22 free throws. The Lady Lions shot 12-for-47 and 9-for-19, respectively.
JT made one 3-point field goal, and nearly half their looks came from beyond the arc. The Lady Eagles scored nine points off long-range shots.
There was plenty of room for the Lady Lions to run late, however, if they could find their touch.
Lake Ridge only took two shots in the fourth quarter, did not score from the floor in the period and committed 10 turnovers. What had been an eight-point lead at its worst withered down to a 37-34 score with 28 seconds to play.
From that point, JT shot 0-for-3 as part of a 2-for-10 fourth quarter.
Smith recognized the shooting struggles early and released the players from the locker room at halftime with six minutes remaining in the intermission to work out the issue on the court.
"I think the only way to overcome missing a bunch of shots is to get confident," the head coach said. "You've got to go out and make some shots and shoot some shots in practice. Most of the time, you have some time to work on it the next day in practice to work out something that you lose your confidence in. But in a game like this, you don't have much time."
Things began alright for the East Texas team. Amia Wickware tied the game, 10-10, with a jump shot at the first quarter buzzer, but the team had started out with a 6-2 lead.
It appeared the Lady Lions finally got traction in the second quarter with a 9-0 run featuring 75 percent shooting in a span of about two and a half minutes. That gave them a 21-13 lead.
But with 2:47 remaining in the half, Lake Ridge took a timeout and closed the frame on a 13-0 run of its own to go up 26-21. The Lady Eagles never released that lead.
JT got close in the final moment while Lake Ridge sputtered in every offensive regard except for free throw shooting.
Ashtyn Beal made a free throw to bring the score to 37-31 with 33 seconds remaining.
Lake Ridge traveled on the inbound pass against pressure from Tameal Jones. Four seconds later, Jones scored JT's lone 3-point field goal of the night to cut the lead to 37-34.
The Lady Eagles successfully beat initial pressure from the Lady Lions after Jones' score and Wickware had to commit her fifth foul to stop the clock with 25 seconds left.
Kristian Dewitt hit both free throws on the other end of the floor.
Back on offense, JT missed two shots before Lake Ridge got a defensive rebound and accepted a quick foul. The Lady Eagles got another free throw from Dewitt to ice the game.
Alyssa Mayfield led JT with eight points.
Dewitt scored 15 points for Lake Ridge and Kylie Collins also got into double figures with 10.
The Lady Eagles will play Dallas Bryan Adams on Friday in the Region II semifinal at Garland's Curtis Culwell Center.
JT is forced to say goodbye to four seniors that made a serious impact on its run to the regional quarterfinals. Jones, Wickware, Kaleigh Hackett and Shakalya Johnson all played their final games as Lady Lions.
The team will return six letter winners from its 31-win roster next season.
"We look back on the 31 wins and, boy, there were people we beat that probably should beat us and didn't," Smith said. "Especially down at the Georgetown tournament. That shows a lot of character with our team and how they do it. I'm proud of them."
Mansfield Lake Ridge 40, No. 15 John Tyler 34
Girls Class 5A Region II Quarterfinal Playoff
At Wills Point High School, Wills Point
Lake Ridge 10 16 6 8 -- 40
John Tyler 10 11 5 8 -- 34
LAKE RIDGE (18-14) -- Kristian Dewitt 15; Kylie Collins 10; Janaya Hines 7; Kennedy Burks 5; Marina Hawkins 3.
JOHN TYLER (31-5) -- Alyssa Mayfield 8; Tameal Jones 6; Destini Whitehead 6; Ashtyn Beal 5; Amia Wickware 4; Daz Johnson 3; Shakendra Tilley 2.
THREE-POINT GOALS -- Lake Ridge: Dewitt (2), Collins. John Tyler: Jones.