By Greg Ford
WYLIE – Fans who viewed Friday night’s basketball games at Wylie High School were treated to pair of entertaining contests, with the Wylie East Lady Raiders edging Wylie 52-48 and the Pirates downing their East counterparts 53-46.
The Lady Raiders improved to 6-3 in District 13-4A, while the Lady Pirates fell to 3-6. Wylie’s boys are 3-4 in 13-4A, as are the Raiders. Earlier in the week, on Jan. 14, the Lady Raiders downed Denison 63-37, while the Wylie girls fell 41-38 to Lovejoy. During the same evening, the Raiders dropped Denison’s boys 68-43, while Wylie fell 49-34 to Lovejoy.
The Lady Raiders and Sherman were tied for third in District 13-4A following Friday’s games. McKinney leads the district at 9-0, followed by Lovejoy at 8-1.
“We’re feeling good, especially after a tough week last week,” Lady Raiders’ head coach Lance Edge said Friday. “We were battling some health issues and some injuries … We battled back this week, We’ve been fighting adversity all year long, and this was a good week for the Lady Raider basketball program.”
The coach added, “We are not going to be content with where we are. We are going to continue to make positive steps.We’re taking it one game at a time and are not looking at the big picture.”
The Lady Raiders, who swept Wylie in district play this season, jumped to an 18-7 first-quarter lead and appeared headed to a relatively easy win. However, the Lady Pirates came to life in the second eight minutes, cutting the East lead to 21-18 with 4:00 left in the half and were down just 28-24 heading into halftime.
Wylie tied the contest 28-28 early in the third quarter, and, later, a steal and layup by Kennedi Foreman put them ahead 32-30. After that, the teams traded buckets, which resulted in East leading 37-36 at the end of the third period.
“You have to give Wylie a lot of credit,” Edge said. “They came back. We got up early on them, and they hit some big shots. It seemed like everything they were shooting went in.”
The squads continued to alternate leads during the early minutes of the fourth period. Eventually, Emily Hartegan put East up 47-46 on a short jumper with 2:15 remaining in the game. A little less then 30 seconds later, Wylie went back up 48-47 on Lauren Stallworth’s two-pointer.
After Redete Bezebeh blocked an East shot, the Lady Pirates got possession and attempted to run down the clock. However, the Lady Raiders then knocked the ball loose, and, in the ensuing scramble for it, were awarded possession following a jump ball call.
Once at the other end, the Lady Raiders attempted a shot, which missed, but was grabbed by Hartegan. She then put the ball back up for two points and a 49-48 advantage.
The Lady Raiders later rebounded a missed Wylie shot, which was followed by a Lady Pirate foul on Raven Moore. She then sank a free throw to put East up 50-48 late in the game. Wylie’s ensuing inbounds pass went awry and was then grabbed by East, which scored the final two points of the game.
“We had opportunities, but we did not capitalize on those,” Wylie head coach Matthew Butler said. “Boxing out has been a problem for us all year. (Hartegan) got a lot of opportunities because we did not box her out … Our kids played hard for the most part, and Wylie East played really well, and made a lot of shots.”
Butler added, “I certainly expect us to win three out of these last five games. We’re going to have to beat Sherman (Jan. 31 at Sherman) to give ourselves a shot at the playoffs.”
The Pirates overcame a 22-14 halftime deficit and went on to beat their crosstown rivals.
After trailing by eight, Wylie eventually deadlocked the game 28-28 in the third quarter on a Myron Varmall basket, and eventually went ahead 35-30 late in the period and were up 37-33 at the end of the quarter.
The Pirates extended the lead to 43-33 early in the fourth quarter, but East slowly cut into the margin, trailing just 45-41 with 2:00 left in the game.
The Raiders’ Henry Dues then sank a pair of free throws to make it 45-43. Later, after two Wylie foul shots made it 47-43, Dues scored again to cut the margin to 47-45, and then he sank a free throw to make in 47-46 Wylie.
However, that was as close as East would get, as Wylie scored the final six points to put the game on ice.
Friday’s victory left Wylie tied with East, Royse City and Greenville tied for third and fourth place in the district standings. McKinney North leads 13-4A at 7-0, with Lovejoy in second at 6-1.
“We didn’t play very well tonight and had a lot of turnovers,” Wylie head coach David Black said. “We hung good on defense … Down the stretch we made enough free throws to pull it out.”
He added, “Anytime Wylie and Wylie East play, it’s a grudge match. Not only did that make (Friday’s) game important … The most important thing it put us in a tie for that third and fourth playoff spot.”