Henderson Girls Take Down Kilgore to Advance to Area Round
LONGVIEW -- It seemed every other possession ended in the same fashion Tuesday.
Henderson would force a Kilgore turnover and Lady Bulldog coach David Aquilar would throw his hands up in frustration. The fast-paced game played right into Henderson's hands, as it won 46-25 to advance to the area round.
The Lady Lions forced 37 turnovers, including 20 steals. They never relented in their full-court press defense. As soon as a pass left the fingertips of a Lady Bulldog, there were two Henderson defenders awaiting its recipient. At some point, the strain of the press began to cause mental errors from Kilgore.
Coach Kyle Griffin said the press is typically part of his team's strategy, but it employed it a bit more than usual Tuesday because of the success.
"We pressed more this game because we thought it would hurt them," he said. "We executed great. We were denying their point guard and forcing the others to handle the ball."
Speedy point guard Alexis Calderon was at the head of the press. This allowed her to come away with five steals, second only to teammate Tyneshia Heckard's six. Calderon led the Lady Lions in scoring with 19 points, the majority of which came in transition.
Heckard added eight points while Resha Hall had seven and Jaclyn Garrett six.
"(Calderon) handles the ball great and deals with the pressure," Griffin said. "Twenty points is really good for her, but it's everything else that is so important. Defensively and getting the ball where it needs to be."
Henderson went into halftime with a 27-10 lead and the game seemingly in control. However, it was tested briefly in the third quarter. Calderon knocked down a 3-pointer to begin the quarter, but it was all Kilgore after that. The Lady Bulldogs went on a 10-0 run to trim the lead to 10 with 3:39 left, causing Griffin to call timeout.
"I just told them to calm down," Griffin said. "Kilgore's a good team. We knew they were gonna make runs. They've made their run and now we just need to gather ourselves and play the way we've played all game long and respond back. That's exactly what the girls did."
Henderson closed the quarter on a 7-2 run and the game was never in question after that.
The Lady Lions next have a matchup with Canton in the area round of the playoffs. The game will be at 6 p.m. Friday at Tyler Junior College.
"I told them I was proud of them for this game, but we've got bigger goals," Griffin said. "We talked about Canton and what a good team they are. They're a very well-rounded team. Every one of their players can handle the ball. Every one of their players can shoot the ball. We need to come out the next few days and have really good practices to prepare for them."