Don’t expect Arhianna Sims-Jackson to call for the ball very often.
The Lamar post considers herself a supporting player in the Lady Vikings offense. However you characterize her role, Sims-Jackson’s contribution was critical in a recent district victory against rival Bowie. The senior scored a game-high 15 points in leading a second-half charge in front of a home crowd.
“My offense? I really don’t think I’m a big part of it,” Sims-Jackson said. “I feel like my defense is what matters most.”
Sims-Jackson has a point. Her rebounding and defense were arguably more impactful than the points she scored. Lamar, which improved its record in 4-6A play to 3-1 with that Jan. 5 victory, rallied from an 18-15 halftime deficit in large part thanks to its performance on defense. The Lady Vikings took the lead — and kept it the rest of the way — with a 6-0 run late in the third quarter. Lamar went on to win 39-34, outscoring Bowie 24-16 in the second half. Lamar downed Fort Worth Paschal 59-15 last Friday to run its district record to 4-1.
“We were down by three and [coach Erinn Levels] said you need to get three stops and you need to get three buckets, and that’s what we did. We kept scoring and we just kept getting stops. I think we executed well,” Sims-Jackson said.
This is how well Lamar executed down the stretch: The Lady Vikings held the Lady Vols to six points in the fourth quarter — and half of that total came on a 3-point basket in the closing seconds with the game out of reach.
“It was a low-scoring game,” Sims-Jackson said. “But we won, so you can’t complain.”
The low-scoring contest stood in stark contrast to the game Bowie and Lamar played the previous week in the Mansfield Spring Creek Barbeque Invitational. The Lady Vols edged the Lady Vikings 61-60 on their way to reaching the consolation championship game.
Missed free throws — 17 of 31 attempts were off the mark — hindered Lamar in the tournament game against Bowie. That wasn’t a problem this time around. Junior guard Ariel Williams and Sims-Jackson continually got fouled and made the most of their trips to the line in the district victory.
“We just had to focus and make more free throws than we did last time,” said Williams, who chipped in 11 points. “We knew we had to focus, and we did.”
Making free throws proved important, but snaring offensive and defensive rebounds limited Bowie’s scoring chances. Sims-Jackson regularly kept offensive possessions alive in the second half by grabbing missed shots or stretching or diving after loose balls.
“She’s a very dominant player,” Williams said. “She helps us get more rebounds. She outrebounds everybody on the court. She just needs to keep doing what she’s doing now.”
Lamar senior guard Jada Washington said her teammates’ high-energy level helped the Lady Vikings overcome a rough shooting night against Bowie. “Everyone had energy,” Washington said. “We picked it up in the third quarter. That’s how we won.”
With wins already against two of the district’s top teams — Bowie and Martin — Lamar’s confidence is soaring. But the Lady Vikings cannot afford a letdown.
“We got complacent, and we know we can’t do that anymore,” Sims-Jackson said of Lamar’s one-point loss to Weatherford in district play. “We have to keep fighting and keep pushing the whole time.”