Girls’ basketball playoffs: Late surge lifts Friendswood past Port Arthur Memorial
LA PORTE - A postseason game being a foreign concept to all of his players, Friendswood girls’ basketball coach Daron Scott could only guess at what would transpire Tuesday night in a Class 5A bi-district matchup with Port Arthur Memorial.
As he watched the proceedings unfold, Scott witnessed a little bit of everything, including a key 9-0 run in the fourth quarter as Friendswood hung on for a 42-32 playoff victory.
The triumph sends the Lady Mustangs into an area round matchup against powerful Manvel (34-3).
“I think tonight you saw a team that doesn’t have any playoff experience,” Scott said. “You saw some young kids tighten up a little bit, but it was fun to watch them persevere through that. They could have very easily let that lead go.”
Friendswood (23-8) held as much as a 20-7 advantage in the second quarter, only to see the Lady Titans charge back to cut the deficit to 29-28 with 6:11 left in the game.
However, that’s when Friendswood put together its 9-0 spree that sealed the victory.
Senior guard Kinsey Cole fueled the surge with two quick layups, and sophomore Ashlyn Ryall came up with a steal and a layup for a 35-28 lead with 4:35 showing.
Ryall then made one of two free throws with 3:51 left for a 36-28 score, and sophomore post Ashlyn Mason capped the flurry with a basket inside for a 38-28 bulge at the 3:25 mark.
Port Arthur Memorial then countered with two field goals to close within 38-32 with 2:12 remaining, but the Lady Titans wouldn’t score again.
One free throw each from Cole and Mason sandwiched a basket by Ryall to finalize Friendswood’s scoring.
“I liked the way the girls just hung in there,” Scott said. “We were really aggressive in the beginning, and we played good defense.
“Then we got content to stay on the perimeter, and Port Arthur Memorial was really aggressive in the second and third quarters. Once we took that aggressiveness back, I felt that was the difference.”
Friendswood junior Bella McElwain buried two 3-pointers to stake Friendswood to an early 6-3 lead, and that advantage quickly swelled to 14-3 as Mason powered the inside game while junior Nicole Nash scored five straight points to give Friendswood its 11-point cushion.
In the second quarter, the Lady Titans closed the gap to 14-7 before Mason scored two baskets inside and Nash added another for the 20-7 lead with 3:50 left in the half.
However, Friendswood didn’t score in the remaining time as Memorial closed to 20-11 by intermission.
The Lady Mustangs built as much as an 11-point cushion (28-17) at the two-minute mark of the third quarter on a scoop shot by Mason and a hoop from Nash.
Memorial, though, wouldn’t go away, trimming the deficit to 28-23 by the period’s end.
The Lady Titans then carried that momentum into the final period behind 6-2 post Julia Sion, who scored three points in helping Memorial cut the lead to 29-28 before Friendswood reasserted itself to seal the victory.
“Kinsey had some big minutes, Nash was just solid handling the ball, and those 2-on-1 breaks started to appear again in the fourth quarter,” Scott said. “When we got into our press and caused some turnovers…that’s the formula we need to win.”
Friendswood now battles a Manvel team which has won 13 straight, including an 82-18 bi-district thumping of Houston Northside.