WACO, Texas — While most teams on Thursday were enjoying the day after Christmas with some relaxation, the No. 4 Ardmore Lady Tigers were deep in the heart of Texas.
WACO, Texas — While most teams on Thursday were enjoying the day after Christmas with some relaxation, the No. 4 Ardmore Lady Tigers were deep in the heart of Texas. Ardmore’s girls basketball team split a pair of games on the opening day of the 59th annual MT Rice Tournament, which took place at Waco Midway High School. Ardmore lost a close opener against Round Rock Westwood, before rebounding with a comfortable victory over the Australian Blues team. “The competition is really good at this tournament and we knew it was going to be,” Ardmore coach Debra Manley said. “We definitely got better in that first game, and had about two or three chances to win it. The game against Australia was special because a lot of us don’t get to travel much. It was exciting for the girls to play against them and we enjoyed the experience.” RR Westwood 47 Ardmore 44 In the Lady Tigers opening game of the tournament, they gave the Lady Warriors from Round Rock Westwood all they could handle and more. Ultimately, it was a slow offensive performance in the first half which proved to be the difference as the Lady Tigers suffered their first defeat of the season by three points. Ardmore came out strong in the first quarter with a 4-0 lead before Westwood took a 6-4 lead at the 6:23 mark of the first. The lead eventually grew to 12-6, before Ardmore closed to within three points at 12-9. However, the Lady Warriors finished the first quarter on a 7-4 run to lead 19-13 going to the second. Just a couple of minutes into the second quarter, the Lady Tigers were staring at a 23-13 deficit, before closing the gap to 23-17 with 3:09 left before halftime. Ultimately though, the Lady Warriors would regain their 10-point advantage and lead 31-21 going into the halftime break. As the third quarter began though, the Lady Tigers started to find an offensive rhythm and mounted a comeback. Ardmore managed to go on a 16-8 run in the third quarter, and managed to take the lead at 37-36 with less than 10 seconds to go, before a late three point shot gave the Lady Warriors a 39-37 advantage going to the fourth. In the fourth quarter, Ardmore managed to tie the game at 39-39, before taking its first lead since the first quarter at 44-42 with 2:42 remaining in regulation. However, as the Lady Tigers were trying to run out the clock, a questionable traveling call was made on Amaya Gordon as she was pushed to the ground while trying to make a pass. Westwood would take advantage and drain a three pointer with 54 seconds left, before making two free throws down the stretch to win the game. Gordon led the Lady Tigers with 15 points in the game followed by Tiona Cohee with eight points and Khalayah Willis with seven points. Reagan McCurley had six points, while Miyah McGee scored five, and Shakira Smith put in three points. Ardmore 66 Australian Blues 37 While the second game of the day might have had a late start for Ardmore, its offense was right on time in a comfortable victory over the Australian Blues. A total of 13 players scored at least one point for the Lady Tigers in the game, as Ardmore raced out to a 12-0 run in the first quarter. The offense didn’t let up as Ardmore led 24-5 going into the second quarter. Australia though found a groove before halftime as the Blues scored 15 points in the second quarter outscoring the Lady Tigers 15-10. However, the lull didn’t last long as Ardmore got back to basics in the third quarter. going on a 19-5 run to take a commanding 55-25 lead into the fourth quarter. Down the stretch it was Ardmore being outscored 12-11. Amaya Gordon led the scoring with 10 points followed by Tiona Cohee and Khalayah Willis each with nine points. Regan McCurley scored seven points, while Maya McGee and Chole Rucker each had six points, and Trinidee Jefferson scored five points. Cheyenne Petties added four points.