Anderson: "I've told them my goal is to just sit and enjoy watching them play"

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Jan. 17—PALESTINE — The Palestine Ladycats (3-0) continue to dominate their district schedule after defeating the Center Lady Roughriders, 65-38, Friday evening inside Wildcat Gymnasium.

The Ladycats had three scorers reach double figures Friday night in Ay'Lashia Fantroy (18), Corian Hudson (15) and Jocelyn Musil (11). It started as a close bout in the opening quarter of this District 17-4A contest. The Ladycats led 15-12 entering the second thanks to seven first-quarter points from Jumija Clewis.

"Center did a good job of forcing us to sit down and guard in our press," head coach Nicole Anderson said. "We had to wake up right away and we needed somebody to give us a push to get things going. We worked hard this week, so I know their legs were tired. It was nice to see us respond appropriately."

The second is when the Ladycats began to separate themselves. Hudson started the quarter with a tough finish at the rim that resulted in an and-1 opportunity from the line. Following the miss, Fantroy was able to clean up the board for a putback that sat the Ladycats in front 20-14.

The Ladycats continued to find success attacking the rim as a drive and finish from Okonkino gave them their largest lead of the game till that point. Back-to-back baskets from Center trimmed Palestine's led to four before a free-throw line jumper from Hudson temporarily cooled Center's momentum.

A slick in-and-out crossover and floater from Fantroy extended their lead back to eight. Musil found her first basket of the game late in the second after securing an offensive rebound before tossing it back through the hoop. With 1:15 remaining, Fantroy showed off why she was voted district MVP last season. She watched the ball swish through the net after a crafty step back froze her defender. On their next possession, she found Sheriee Butler for an easy layup.

Finally, on the final possession of the half, Fantroy pulled up three feet behind the arc to splash her second three of the quarter right at the buzzer. Their 8-0 run to end the half earned them a 36-21 lead.

Fantroy continued her hot streak and asserted herself in the game as she was directly involved in the Ladycats first seven points of the second half. She found a cutting Musil to start the quarter before stealing the ball on the opposite end and dropping in an easy fast-break layup.

On their following possession, she calmly crossed half-court before pulling a deep three from the left wing to give the Ladycats a 17-point lead. An and-1 from Hudson on their next trip up the court extended that advantage to 20. Back-to-back fast-break layups from Musil continued to take the air out of the Center offense. A final basket from Hudson had Palestine leading 53-26 entering the fourth quarter.

"[Jocelyn] changes the pace for us defensively," Anderson said. "She's a nose-to-nose defender and takes a lot of pride in what she does. The team feeds off the energy she brings. She's an energy player. We're thankful she decided to do basketball this year. She's our captain and that speaks a lot to who she is as a person. She's a high-character kid. And when you combine that with her work ethic it makes the team that much better."

Center enjoyed their best quarter of basketball in the fourth, holding the Ladycats to 12 points as their starters rested. The Lady Roughriders also put up double-digit points for the first time since the first quarter.

"I've told them my goal is to just sit and enjoy watching them play. To be their fan," Anderson said. "I must say they've allowed me the luxury of just being able to sit and say 'good job.' You can't beat that."

The Ladycats host the Hudson Lady Hornets Tuesday as they look to go to 4-0 in District 17-4A.

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