High School Sports

Girls Basketball Insider: Aledo passes latest challenge

Aledo coach Mike Pinkerton saw what was happening and the first-year coach wasn’t surprised.

Fort Worth Trimble Tech was keying its defense Friday on the Bearcats’ talented junior guard, Alyssa Dry. Aledo’s first-half offense slowed and by halftime they trailed the Bulldogs 28-22.

“They were playing to keep the ball out of her hands,” Pinkerton said. “I told everybody to calm down and let’s just do what we do.”

Aledo found a way to do what it does, which allowed Dry to do what she does: score. She scored 21 points in a 48-44 victory over the Bearcats’ stiffest district competition. A 68-31 victory over Fort Worth Arlington Heights on Tuesday pushed Aledo to 8-0 in District 7-4A.

The Bearcats, who sit solely atop the district standings, have now beaten Trimble Tech (21-4, 7-1) twice — once in district play — and remain ranked No. 2 in the latest Texas Association of Basketball Coaches state poll. Aside from last Friday’s game, Aledo (19-3) has won every other district game by 26 points or more. The Bearcats play Fort Worth South Hills on Friday.

Pinkerton said the approach now is to fine-tune his team’s consistency.

“We’re playing pretty good,” Pinkerton said. “Of course, we’ve got a ways to go. We’re not there yet. We’re not playing consistently yet.”

Pinkerton, who came to Aledo from Granbury after last season, has continued the Bearcats’ success from last year’s state tournament team. Aledo returned four starters, but the transition from former coach Rusty Johnson to the defensive-minded Pinkerton wasn’t automatic.

“It’s been tricky. It really has,” Pinkerton said. “The biggest thing was to win over the girls that, yes you went [to the state tournament], but there’s more than one way to win ballgames. You saw them, piece by piece, start to buy in.”

Eyeing the playoffs

Last year, Azle finished sixth in District 5-4A, going 8-14 and 4-10 in district.

This year, the Hornets are eyeing a playoff berth, sitting in fourth place, two games ahead of Wichita Falls. Azle lost 37-29 to Trophy Club Nelson on Tuesday, but coach Mitzi Marquardt has seen improvement from last season. Experience has been the difference, said Marquardt, who pointed to seniors Morgan Prentice and Maci Wilbanks as her team leaders.

“We’re still a young team, but we were really young last year,” Marquardt said. “They love basketball. They want to win.”

On Tuesday, Azle trailed Nelson 28-4 late in the second quarter before cutting the deficit to 16 points by halftime. After holding Nelson to three points in the third quarter, the Hornets got within six points late in the game before the Bobcats pulled away.

“These young ladies, they never quit,” Marquardt said. “I was super proud of how they came out and gave us a shot at doing things in the second half.”

Azle now turns its focus toward its final six games, starting with Friday’s road trip to Lake Dallas. The Hornets are in a comfortable position for the fourth playoff spot in the district, but Marquardt said there can’t be a let-up over the next few weeks. Azle went 5-2 during the first round of district play, including a one-point loss to Denton Guyer and a loss to Nelson on Dec. 11.

“We have to be consistent every Tuesday and Friday night,” Marquardt said. “There’s not any surprises. It’s going to be who wants to come out and win.”

A big night

Tuesday night’s games resulted in 31 teams scoring 36 or fewer points. Ashlynn Bain outscored all of them. The Lake Country Christian junior guard scored 37 points, including 10 3-pointers in an 88-19 victory over Flower Mound Coram Deo. Lake Country Christian competes in District 2-3A of TAPPS.