As Ardmore senior point guard Christa Pickens dribbled the ball in a stationary position for more than one minute during the third quarter, and Ardmore holding into a 14-point lead, the intention wasn’t to burn more time off the clock.
“We weren’t trying to hold it and stall it,” Ardmore coach Debra Manley said. “We were just trying to pull them out a little bit and then attack. Once you attack, you’ve got a mismatch.”
Although Class 5A’s No. 3 Ardmore didn’t convert a made basket on that possession, there were many other times during Friday’s 64-47 home win when the Lady Tigers successfully penetrated through McAlester’s 3-2 zone defense.
McAlester’s height challenged Ardmore (5-0).
Despite committing double-digit turnovers, the Lady Tigers didn’t let that pressure of the Lady Buffaloes’ zone defense rattle them.
“The 3-2 they were running kind of shut us down from driving in and some of the passes that we tried to make they had height on us,” Ardmore junior J’Sades Ainsworth said. “We couldn’t see the holes. But other than that, we did make shots off them.”
Ardmore struggled at times against the 3-2 but Ainsworth came up big during the second half. She correctly diagnosed which way a missed shot was headed and was there to grab the rebound. She scored 16 of her 25 points during the second half.
Ainsworth grabbed an offensive rebound on the right side of the baseline with less than four minutes remaining in regulation and put the ball back into the basket for a 55-43 Lady Tigers lead.
“I just told her that she is going to have to get more involved, because a lot of times, we’ll get complacent a little bit and we’ll kind of stand out there,” Manley said. “I was like, ‘Look, we’re trying to get the ball in your hands a little bit. Be active and let’s get the ball to you and see what happens.’ And she did. She came on.”
Ardmore led throughout the second half but McAlester (2-5) cut the deficit to 10 or fewer points on two separate occasions.
Taylor Compton made the back end of a pair of foul shots with 4:43 remaining in the third quarter to trim the Ardmore advantage to 38-29.
“I knew that they were going to be a lot better,” Manley said of McAlester. “They’ve got a different coach. He used to coach at Byng. But we need that kind of game. We need a pounding in there a little bit.”
Ardmore began to find the openings in McAlester’s zone defense on a more consistent basis in the fourth quarter.
Tatayana Lee zipped a diagonal pass to Tieronay Banks who converted a layup for a 59-43 Ardmore lead with about two minutes remaining in regulation.
“We are kind of smaller, but I told our kids ‘Tough teams win. Tough kids win. You’ve got to get tough. That’s what you do,’” Manley said. “But I thought the kids responded well. They did what they had to do.”
McAlester 10 13 9 15 — 47
Ardmore 18 16 13 17 — 64
Ardmore: J’Sades Ainsworth 25, Amaya Gordon 10, Tieronay Banks 8, Tatyana Lee 6, Christa Pickens 6, Samaya Purvey 5, Katyra Albert 2, Sierra Gordon 2.
McAlester: 16-26; Ardmore: 9-16
McAlester: 3; Ardmore: 3 (Lee 2, Banks)