The Justin Northwest girls basketball team is never going to win the battle of the front court this season.
When first-year coach Cody Parris sends his starting five onto the floor, it’s going to be 5-6, 5-6, 5-5, 5-3 and 5-11. The 5-11 is Jenna Deen. But with maturing and savvy scorers in juniors Alexus Brigham and Equayla Smith, Parris is not going to change anything with this group.
In the 62-52 victory over Keller Fossil Ridge this past Friday, Brigham and Smith combined for 30 points as the Lady Texans (6-7, 1-0) won their District 5-6A opener. Brigham had 17. Smith finished with 13.
And contrary to the box score, Northwest did an admirable job on the Lady Panthers’ two top scorers in Grayson Bright and Ty’Kiera Henry. Bright scored 21 and Henry added 19 points. But it was good enough because the rest of the team scored 12 points.
“They really did a good job considering how talented those two are,” Parris said. “We played them straight up. But when they got the ball in the post, we doubled-teamed them.”
What Parris has inherited is a team that has great leadership in the backcourt. He said he has asked some players to give up some things that they are typically capable of doing. But he didn’t find the resistance.
That’s pretty telling considering he is the new head coach. While that might not have been a major issue, there is still is an adjustment between both coach and player when the lead assistant moves to the first chair.
“The biggest thing is that Alexus has accepted her role and her responsibility,” Parris said. “She works hard on her game and her dedication to her conditioning has made a difference. I’ve asked a lot from her.”
However, Parris challenged forward Tara Crumpton to change her role. Even though she’s 5-6, he asked her to play more in the post. Parris has asked her to work a little more on her ability to defend.
That has cost her a little on the offensive side of the floor because she can be a spot up shooter. But she will break out with the occasional double-digit game. She had 13 against Fossil Ridge.
Through the first 13 games, Brigham is averaging 17.0 points per game followed by Smith at 9.5 and Crumpton as 8.5.
“All of the kids understand what we’re asking,” Parris said. “Obviously, we have to play small ball a lot. But everyone is making the adjustments.”
Byron Nelson update
Darrin Wilson’s Lady Bobcats (9-4, 0-1 in 5-6A) lost a 31-29 overtime heartbreaker to Keller Timber Creek in the district opener. They missed three attempts at the tying bucket to force a second overtime. But what hurt even more is that Nelson probably could have put the game the game away in regulation. It missed 12 free throws.
This is an important week for the Lady Bobcats in these other two district games – playing host to Denton Ryan on Tuesday and Keller Friday – because they can’t afford to fall into hole when district play resumes in January.
Still, this program is making progress. The 54-48 win over Denton Dec. 8 equaled the win total from 2014-15.