— By GREG WEBB
The Weatherford Lady Roos made a nice, big stride toward achieving a second-straight playoff seed on Friday, as they fought back from a couple of deficits to beat North Crowley’s Lady Panthers, 48-45.
Weatherford was down by as many as eight points in the third quarter but tied, then took their first lead early in the fourth on a layup by Chelsey Bransford. A relentless defense and a penchant for drawing fouls in the closing minutes kept the Lady Roos tenuously ahead, and WHS held off the Lady Panthers in a dramatic win.
The Lady Roos, midway through the District 3-5A schedule, improved to 4-3, while North Crowley dropped a game behind, at 3-4. Weatherford currently sits alone in fourth place a game back of Arlington Lamar.
North Crowley featured plenty of speed, and certainly decent height, with 6-foot, 4-inch Danielle Williams cutting an imposing figure in and around the paint. But the lion’s share of the energy belonged to the Lady Roos, who scrapped 32 solid minutes from the opening tip.
“These girls work extremely well together,” said Weatherford head coach Darryn Shearmire. “There were a couple of things we had to do to compete in this game, and one was to limit [North Crowley’s] offensive rebound. We knew we had to get a body on [Williams] under the basket.
“The other was to avoid turnovers against their press.”
Plan B’s success looked in doubt in the early minutes, with Shearmire burning a pair of early time outs, as the Lady Roos turned over the ball due to NC’s trapping press. But Weatherford adjusted and had no more than a handful of disruptions for the balance of the contest.
Behind by seven points with two minutes left in the opening period, Weatherford’s Abbye Shearmire got a good look on a 3-pointer and followed up with two points by sinking both ends of technical-foul free throws.
The WHS girls took advantage of opportunities at the foul line through the night, and the freebies kept them close during the second quarter. The successful free throws were also the telling blows as the game drew to its dramatic close.
Shearmire expected the occasional Lady Panther’s offensive outbursts and prepped his squad for the likelihood.
“We told our girls not to think in terms of the whole game, but with each possession,” he said. “Chelsey made a big impact in the third quarter and I think was playing with a chip on her shoulder, which served her well in this game.
“And Faith [Woodring] is just so quick to the basket and knows how to use her body to draw the fouls, which she did several times there toward the end of the game.”
Senior Abbye Shearmire led the Lady Roos with 15 points, including a healthy fare of long-range shots. Woodring and Kailin Davis had a dozen points apiece.
The team effort was evident and constant, with the Weatherford’s four seniors, two freshmen and the mix of underclass in between contributing.
The ploy of collapsing a WHS defender on NC’s big post player throughout the match had the desired effect of making Williams work constantly for an inlet pass, which sent her to the bench to re-coop her breath.
Despite an eventual 58-43 loss, the Weatherford boys made a competitive accounting of themselves in the first half, contesting the boards successfully on both ends of the floor.
The Kangaroos kept the North Crowley run-and-shoot tendencies under control, as the first half was a repeated progression of the Panthers creating a margin and the WHS boys reeling them back in.
Trailing by just a handful at the half, the third period was not as fruitful for the Roos, as NC’s offense began clicking and outside shooting became more effective.
Scoring for WHS was virtually by committee. Tony Banks led with nine, while Sam Couch, Lane Guest and Ryan Merrill had eight, seven and six points, respectively.