Defense won Hurst L.D. Bell the championship in the Boswell Holiday Invitational Tournament over the weekend.
Bell's high-pressure, full-court press overcame a 24 percent shooting average in the championship game and Bell coach Brock Pembleton doesn't expect any difference as his team heads into the heart of district play.
"That's who we are," said Pembleton, whose team is 20-3 overall and 3-1 in District 6-5A. "We're not very big and we have some quickness and can be pretty aggressive, so we have to put pressure on full court."
A lack of height will be a concern for Pembleton as his team continues through an extremely tough 6-5A that features, among others, 6-foot-2 Artavia Ford of Colleyville Heritage.
Working in Bell's favor is a deep bench of athletes who can continue to put the pressure on defensively no matter what lineup checks in the game, creating a full-court track meet style of play.
"I have three girls [coming off the bench] at least that could start for us," Pembleton said. "When we go to substitutions we're not letting up any. We're continuing on what we already started. A lot of times I have a couple girls that when they come in, they raise the bar higher for us."
Junior guard Cierra Johnson is key to Bell's success, leading the team in scoring and producing on defense by leading the team in deflections. However, Bell's strategy is set up for a player like senior guard Channing Taylor to shine as a "defensive specialist" for Pembleton.
"She's the one I put on anyone we want to lock down and make it very hard for them," Pembleton said.
"She's very quick and she also leads the offense very well."
Bell returns to district action Friday, and faces a brutal stretch from Jan. 8-18 of Euless Trinity, Irving MacArthur and Colleyville Heritage that will have a definite impact on playoff seeding.
Mansfield Timberview fell just short of taking the Mansfield Rotary Tournament championship, losing 61-59 to Cedar Hill. Arlington took fifth place and Aledo finished seventh in the tournament.
In the Sandra Meadows Classic in Duncanville, Kennedale finished sixth, while Colleyville Heritage fell just short in the consolation championship, losing to Frisco Liberty 54-35.
At the Whataburger Blue Girls Division Tournament, Argyle beat powerhouse Abilene Wylie.
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