ARLINGTON -- The same high-pressure press that earned 30 wins for the Hurst L.D. Bell girls basketball team this season ultimately took the Blue Raiders down in the area round of the Class 5A playoffs.
No. 1 state-ranked Duncanville's pressing defense overwhelmed an athletic Bell squad 66-29 on Friday at Arlington High School.
While Bell (30-5) had thrived on a full-court press all season, Duncanville (37-0) was considerably faster than any opponent the Raiders had faced, forcing a change of game plan.
"They outran us," Bell coach Brock Pembleton said. "That's what we do. We do it at one level, and they do it at a higher level.
Duncanville extended its nation-best winning streak to 65 games and advanced to the 5A regional-quarterfinal round.
The Pantherettes jumped to a 7-2 lead minutes into the game. They would continue the onslaught while holding Bell scoreless until the three-minute mark of the second quarter, resulting in a 21-0 run.
Bell entered halftime with just seven points to Duncanville's 37.
"I was really pleased with our defensive effort," Duncanville coach Cathy Self-Morgan said. "Our defense is what made our offense. The kids also played as a team and played Pantherette ball, and made that extra pass and worked together and ran the court hard."
Bell's fight showed up in the second half, thanks to an outstanding effort by junior guard Cierra Johnson, who finished with a team-high 10 points, all in the second half.
Johnson only scored two points from the outside in the fourth quarter.
"I was pretty hard on my defense there in the fourth quarter because we slacked up a little bit, but [Johnson] earned it," Self-Morgan said. "She was taking it hard to the bucket."
For Duncanville, the abundance of offense came from making the extra pass, which turned into a Globetrotter-esque performance from the state's top-ranked team.
The Pantherettes, with a national-best 65-game win streak, finished with 31 total assists -- six of which came from junior point guard Tasia Foman.
Junior guard Ariel Atkins finished with a game-high 19 points, 16 of which came in the first half. Senior forward Kiara Perry picked up a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Pembleton said his team can celebrate an outstanding season that ended at the hands of a team in which preparations are nearly impossible.
"We haven't seen that before," he said. "We even tried to simulate it by bringing our JV boys in and pressing with them and it helped, but it's not Duncanville.
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