About the only thing Seguin forward Alarie Mayze can find fault in about her team’s undefeated start to district play is how hard it’s having to work to close out some games.
Take for example a pre-Christmas showdown against nearby rival and perennial powerhouse Mansfield Summit: The Lady Cougars trailed 21-8 at one point before storming back for a 54-48 win. To earn the victory, Seguin outscored the Lady Jaguars 20-10 in the decisive fourth quarter.
Mayze, true to form, led all scorers with 20 points.
“I think we need to start out quicker and faster so we can rest at the end,” said Mayze, a junior.
Challenges are easier to meet when a team has two players averaging more than 15 points a game. Mayze and junior point guard Laurynn McGowen make sure the Lady Cougars are always within striking distance. It’s proved to be a winning formula to this point.
“We’re mentally tough,” McGowen said. “We’re physically tough and mentally tough. We take on each challenge.”
After some time off and a tough tournament draw in the Mansfield Invitational, Seguin returns to district play Friday at Lancaster looking to improve to 5-0 in District 15-4A. Seguin coach Courtney Phillips was less than enthused with her team’s performance in an opening-round win in the Mansfield tournament the day after Christmas.
But Phillips liked how stingy defense has been, leading to transition opportunities on offense.
“Before the break, I think we were playing really well,” Phillips said. “We’re really getting after it on defense. That’s what we’ve focused on right now. And we’ve really been able to break it down on offense.”
It’s not just how Seguin has played that’s impressed the coach. It’s who they’ve beaten. The Lady Cougars last season lost in the third round of the playoffs to district foe Red Oak. So far this season, Red Oak has lost just once in district play, when Seguin went on the road and won 55-30.
“Red Oak beat us in the regional quarterfinals last year, and to beat them by 25 was huge,” Phillips said.
The Summit victory was similarly impressive, especially since it came with several key Seguin players in foul trouble down the stretch. “They’re always tough because they’re our rival,” Mayze said.
When playing a rival or any other formidable opponent, it’s nice to have on your side a player who can mix it up in the paint or score from the outside with ease. McGowen said Mayze is that kind of player. “ ‘Dominant’ is how I’d describe her,” McGowen said.
Mayze is similarly impressed by McGowen’s game. “She can assist and score and take of the ball and set other people up,” Mayze said. “That’s why we’re so good: because we play together as a team.”
That team work and skill have Mayze dreaming big. It’s a mostly young team with only a few seniors, and Mayze can see the Lady Cougars winning state this year — and maybe next year, too.
“We just have to keep working hard in practice and bringing it to the game and showing other teams what we have,” Mayze said.