Lady Hornets rally past Lufkin in district opener

Jan. 7—HUNTSVILLE — Despite a close game for much of the first three quarters, Huntsville girls' basketball was able to turn it up a notch in the fourth quarter in their opening distinct game.

The Lady Hornets (5-17, 1-0 district 16, 5A) set up one of the toughest non-district schedules they could to prepare for district play and after one game, they saw some results. The Lady Hornets were able to push their way to a 54-36 win over the Lady Pack.

"When you take a group of young girls and put them in the belly of the beast, this is what you get," Huntsville head coach LaToya Bennett said. "We played top-25 teams early on and these young girls continued to fight every day. This is the type of game that you get. I'm super proud of them. My only hope is to continue this each and every night as we travel through the district."

The Lady Hornets played one of their best games as a whole as they put all 40 minutes to play in this win. Huntsville was able to win off the glass, from the field and played sound defense to make things hard on Lufkin.

As a team, Huntsville was able to haul in 32 rebounds and forced 15 turnovers. A lot of that had to do with the fourth-quarter defense to continue to lock Lufkin down.

The Lady Pack (9-10, 0-2 district 16,5A) scored just four points in the closing eight minutes.

"Everyday we step in here we talk about playing all four quarters," Bennett said. "When you play a tough schedule sometimes it's hard to lock in mentally, but I thought the girls did a good job coming together. They knew what was on the line in district and they did it. They put those four quarters together and we played a game."

The offense for Huntsville has struggled as points this year. Against Lufkin, the Lady Hornets were able to get three players in double-digit points with junior Mahalia Twine leading the way with 15.

Junior Markia Sweat and sophomore Jazlyn Hill each added 10 and 12, respectively. Sweat missed out on a double-double by three boards.

On the glass senior JaNavia Gage cleaned up. The senior would come down with 14 boards helping to turn some of those around on the other end.

But one thing that proved to be the difference for Huntsville was free throw shooting.

The Lady Hornets have struggled from the charity stripe for most of the season but tonight landed 15. While they still shot nearly 50%, it's an improvement.

"We are going to get better when you shoot 200-300 free throws," Bennett said. "I can say it is something we work on every day and we aren't going to come off it. Hopefully, the girls are able to capitalize on it on Tuesday and Friday nights."

As the district season is underway, the Lady Hornets now need to keep their momentum. Huntsville will hit the road for their next game. Tip-off against Kingwood Park is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Kingwood.

"We are working," Bennett said. "We have to work on some things defensively and I know these girls will lock in and do what I ask of them. I can only ask that we come out on Tuesday hard-nosed, play solid defense and get the win."