It’s apparent Lubbock-Cooper and Lubbock Monterey are the top two girls teams in District 4-5A.
That means the remaining four teams – Lubbock High, Wylie, Lubbock Coronado and Abilene Cooper – are fighting for the two remaining playoff spots.
Games between those four teams are crucial to their postseason hopes, and Coronado managed to steal one on the road against Cooper on Tuesday night.
Kya Smith scored a game-high 21 points as the Lady Mustangs won 49-38 at Cougar Gym.
“When you’re fighting for that third and fourth positions and you can take a game on the road, you put them (Cooper) in a position they have to win at your place in the next half,” Coronado coach Ashley James said. “I think our kids did a good job of doing that today.”
Trista Arnold added eight points, and Jazlyn Braithwaite had six as Coronado (16-10 overall, 2-2 district) bounced back from Friday’s 75-44 loss at Monterey.
Karrigan Parrott led Cooper (13-13, 0-4) with 17 points, and Alliyah Ralston had seven.
It was a big win for the Lady Mustangs, who are 1-1 at home in district with a win over Wylie and a loss against Lubbock High. So, they needed to a road win.
Cooper, meanwhile, finds itself in an almost must-win situation with Wylie coming to Cougar Gym on Friday to wrap up the first half of district. It would be hard to make the playoffs going winless in the first half of district, losing three at home.
“There’s six more games left, and we’ve got to be ready to fight,” Cooper coach Arsenio Geter said. “Starting off 0-4 makes it a little harder. It’s not where anybody wants to be. But there’s not anybody in this district that’s not good and can’t win on any given night.”
Smith carries Coronado in first half
Coronado scored the game’s first five points and never trailed, though Cooper did cut it to two (9-7) after scoring the first basket of the second quarter.
The Lady Mustangs, however, answered with an 8-0 run and led 17-12 at halftime.
It was an was ugly half for both sides. Coronado had 10 turnovers, while the Lady Cougars had nine. Coronado hit 7 of 28 shots while Cooper was 5 of 29 from the field.
Smith, though, kept the Lady Mustangs in front by scoring 14 points. The 6-foot-1 junior post could have had more but didn’t shoot well. However, her play on the offensive boards gave her second and third chances.
“Kya did not shoot the ball incredibly well, but she battled,” James said. “That’s the thing we love about her. She’s the kid that is always going to battle for her own offensive rebound. She’s always going to play defense. She’s always going to big on the defensive boards, too.
“Thank God, in the second half, she did put a couple of key buckets in to hold our spread and make sure they didn’t close it back down to one possession.”
Cooper did close within one (21-20) as Jazlyn Hatcher got an offensive rebound, scored and drew a foul with 6:05 left in the third quarter. Her free throw capped a 13-4 run that started in the final 1:40 of the first half. Seven of those points came from Parrott.
Yet every time Cooper made a run, Coronado answered. Jazlyn Cooper hit a trey just before the buzzer to send the Lady Mustangs into the final quarter with a 35-25 lead.
Cooper got within five (42-38) on back-to-back baskets by Parrott, including a 3, with 2:50 left in the game, but Coronado scored the final seven points to seal the victory.
Hot shooting 2nd half sparks Lady Mustangs
Cooper forced 21 turnovers overall, while committing 14. But Coronado hit 13 of 19 shots in the second half, including 6 of 7 in the final quarter, to finish 20 of 47 from the field overall.
James, who wasn’t happy with her team’s shot selection in the first half, was much happier with the team’s play in the second half.
“When we finally settled in, got a few inside-out looks and got to the bucket, driving lanes, it helped us a ton,” James said.
James thought her team also rebounded well in the second half.
“We didn’t secure the boards in the first half, but the second half, down the stretch, we kind of secured them and held on the ball a little bit,” James said.
Cooper hit 8 of 32 shots in the second half and was 13 of 62 overall. Parrott kept Cooper in the game, hitting six field goals, including three of her team's seven 3s.
“I feel like we have a pretty solid offense,” Geter said. “We put ourselves in position to score, we just couldn’t put the ball in the hole today. We couldn’t buy a bucket.”
James credited some of that to her team’s zone defense.
“We gave up a couple of wide-open 3s to (Parrott) that she knocked down,” James said. “But for the most part, we were moving in the zone, communicating, getting out, putting pressure on the ball, which we can do, because Kya is big in the middle. That allows to extend out a little bit in our zone. I thought we did a good job of taking them out of their rhythm and make them take tough shots.”
While Geter though his team played well defensively overall, he said Smith was just too much for his team to handle on both ends of the court.
“We’ve been struggling with bigs against us,” said Geter, who’s tallest player is 5-10 sophomore J’Lee Sloan. “But our bigs, we’re young, and we’re just continuing to work with them and they’re getting better. … But we’re losing the rebound battle and the points in the paint. We’ll get better. We’ve got the kids to do it. I know they’ll step up to the challenge.”
Joey D. Richards covers Abilene high schools and colleges, Big Country schools and other local sports. Follow him at Twitter at ARN_Joey. If you appreciate locally driven news, you can support local journalists with a digital subscription to ReporterNews.com.
Lubbock Coronado 49, Cooper 38
Coronado … 9 … 8 … 18 … 14 – 49
Cooper … 5 … 7 … 13 … 13 – 38
LUBBOCK CORONADO (16-10, 2-2) – Addison Andrews 0 1-2 1, Jannaeleigh Cooper 2 0-0 5, Alyssa Villalobos 1 0-0 3, Jazlyn Braithwaite 2 2-2 6, Taegan Ashley 2 1-2 5, Trista Arnold 3 1-2 8, Kya Smith 10 0-1 21. Totals 20 5-9 49.
COOPER (13-13, 0-4) – Jazlyn Hatcher 1 1-1 3, Alliyah Ralston 2 1-2 7, Ashlynn French 1 0-0 3, Asjha Cherry 0 0-2 0, Karrigan Parrott 6 2-2 17, Kyla Speights 2 0-2 5, J’Lee Sloan 1 1-3 3. Totals 13 5-12 38.
3-Point Goals – Coronado 4 (Cooper, Villalobos, Arnold, Smith), Cooper 7 (Ralston 2, French, Parrott 3, Speights). Total Fouls – Coronado 15, Cooper 13. Fouled Out – None. Technical Fouls – None.
This article originally appeared on Abilene Reporter-News: Lubbock Coronado tops Abilene Cooper in District 4-5A girls basketball