Northeast Tarrant

Grapevine girls basketball team rolls on as ‘best team with losing record’

Grapevine freshman guard Samantha Tatum (34) was put on Lake Dallas’ best shooter in the Lady Mustangs’ win.
Grapevine freshman guard Samantha Tatum (34) was put on Lake Dallas’ best shooter in the Lady Mustangs’ win. Special to the Star-Telegram

Whether or not she has a future in sales is unknown. But Grapevine girls basketball coach Lindy Lombard is using the mileage of her team’s record to sell it on how good it is.

“I joke with the kids that we’re the best team in the state of Texas with a losing record,” Lombard said. “But if you don’t get buy-in from the kids, you’re not going to get much from the season.”

An impressive 47-34 victory at Lake Dallas on Jan. 12 gave the Lady Mustangs (9-11, 5-0 in 6-5A) sole possession of first place. The first half of district play concluded on Friday against Fort Worth Poly. The second half opened Tuesday at Fort Worth Eastern Hills. Grapevine plays at Fort Worth Dunbar Friday.

As much as this team was going through a roster overhaul following the 2014-2015 season, Lombard said she had to start talking to her returning leaders in the spring to prepare them for what they could face.

“I had conversations with Tatum Tellin and Abby Sandy that we were going to take some hits because we were going to start dealing with some major changes,” Lombard said. “We were going to struggle. But I told them that if they stayed positive and keep working, we will get better and it will show up in the district season.”

In the win against Lake Dallas, Lady Falcons scoring guard Ashley Hayes scored 18 points. But most of her shots were contested. Plus, there were others that didn’t go down.

Lombard took the unorthodox approach by giving the Hayes defensive assignment to freshman Samantha Tatum.

That was based on history. Starting in the Mansfield Spring Creek Barbeque Invitational Tournament, Tatum starting picking up this role. It was something that she proved. Size doesn’t really matter. Tatum is 5-6.

“Sam really earned it,” Lombard said. “She does a great job fighting through screens and keeps working. But the other thing is that it frees up Tatum and Abby. I don’t want to get Abby in foul trouble.”

Grapevine plays with such unselfishness that there really is no player an opposing team can guard. Sandy is a perfect example. She scored 18 points in the 54-39 Jan. 8 win over Birdville. She didn’t score against Lake Dallas. But she did have a career-high 10 assists. Tellin had 13 rebounds.

“We want more out of everyone without sounding too unrealistic,” Lombard said. “Given where we’re at and what we’ve done, we’ve talked about complacency and not letting it affect us and to stay after our goals.”

Colleyville Heritage update

Regardless of how the Lady Panthers’ game at Carroll went on Jan. 15, there’s still a really good chance that this team is going to advance to the postseason. What the second half of the district season is going to be about is finding a way to stay out of fourth place.

The fourth-place 7-6A team will meet the first-place 8-6A team. That’s likely going to be national power Duncanville. So the idea is to avoid that. The 44-42 loss to Hurst L.D. Bell hurt the Lady Panthers (17-8, 3-2 through Jan. 13). Colleyville Heritage played host to Coppell on Tuesday and travels to Richland on Friday. Euless Trinity is the favorite to win the district. But the Lady Panthers, L.D. Bell and Carroll could be fighting for position the rest of the way.

“Nobody wants to finish fourth,” head coach Dianna Sager said.

In an unrelated note, junior guard Hannah Verdi has been cleared to return. Sager said last week Verdi’s first game was probably going to be Coppell. It will take some time to get Verdi back into playing shape. Sager’s approach for players returning from injury is to play them two minutes per quarter. Then she will evaluate and determine extending playing time.