Northeast Tarrant

Lady Dragons basketball weathers grind of Canyon tourney

Priscilla Smeenge (22) has been playing more in the backcourt and seems to have found her 3-point shot for Carroll.
Priscilla Smeenge (22) has been playing more in the backcourt and seems to have found her 3-point shot for Carroll. Star-Telegram Archive

If teams are going to play in the Canyon tournament, they’re going to have to figure out how to deal with the grind.

That’s exactly what Carroll’s girls basketball team endured this past weekend. The Lady Dragons went 3-1 and improved to 8-5 for the season. West Texas basketball is a different brand. It’s not a surprise if a Class 2A team defeats a 6A team.

It’s a defensive oriented game that demands teams take the good shot.

It can become a 94-foot environment. Teams are known for applying full court pressure or man-to-man. If a winning team scores more than 50 points, that’s considered a huge offensive night.

Carroll did that only once. The Lady Dragons survived and beat Class 2A power Canadian, 36-34. They enjoyed a breather with a 56-28 victory over Wylie. They then lost to Class 5A Canyon, the No. 1 team in the state and defending state champion, 41-30. Finally, they beat Abilene Wylie, the No. 2 team in 4A, 40-35.

Indeed, there were many learning experiences to be gained. Win or lose, head coach Teri Morrison felt her young team needed this.

“We’ve played 13 teams so far this year and nine have been teams ranked in the state, somewhere in the state,” Morrison said. “Those teams out there don’t have D1 kids, but you better come ready to play. They’re relentless in how they attack you.

“The payoff was when we got to the Saturday morning game [against Abilene Wylie], we came out pretty unfazed. We were used to what we were seeing.”

Carroll continued its non-district season on Tuesday at Keller and then plays at McKinney North on Friday. District 7-6A play begins next week.

Working on chemistry

It may take the entire season for this team to have the cohesion Morrison requires. Sometimes, that just happens. Morrison said she has seen some improvement with her guards Brook Lay and Kayla Colan.

“We just have to learn to trust each other more,” Morrison said. “We’re not smart on some reads. Maybe we need to make one more pass. We have to protect the ball a little more. I know we’ve played faster than we should have.

“But I know we’ll get improved. This is a good group. Every day, we’re getting better. We just have to continue to work harder to reach that.”

To bring a little more stability to the point guard spot, Morrison has pulled junior Priscilla Smeenge from the front court and wing and used her in the backcourt. Morrison is using a four guard out, one post look.

“She’s learned to handle things playing baseline to baseline,” Morrison said. “Priscilla is a good player. She grinds. She hustles. There are some quality things that we’re seeing from doing this.”

Smeege had a better week with her shooting. She raised her 3-point shooting percentage. After starting 3-of-17 (17.6 percent), Smeenge is in a 9-of-22 (41 percent).

“She’s not struggling with her shot,” Morrison said. “They were just not falling for a time. But it’s looking better.”