It didn’t take a basketball expert to figure out how the Shallowater Fillies won Pool D of the Caprock Holiday Classic over Monterey Friday afternoon.
Free throws. And lots of them.
Shallowater scored more points from the free-throw line (27) than it did from the field (26), including hitting 15 of 18 attempts in the fourth quarter, and the Fillies’ ability to hit those free throws more than Monterey led to a 53-46 victory that kept Shallowater undefeated at 18-0.
“Man, our kids did a great job tonight of making free throws in the fourth quarter,” Shallowater coach Chuck Darden said. “(Monterey) missed a few, and in a game like that, that’s what it comes down to. We knocked down some critical free throws down the stretch and were lucky that they missed a couple, and we capitalized on that. It’s a big win for us, that’s for sure.”
The win put the Fillies, ranked No. 7 in Class 3A, into the championship side of the large-school bracket, where they were set to face Class 5A No. 7 Coronado (20-1) late Friday for a shot in today’s championship game.
It’s a tough task to ask after a physical game against the Lady Plainsmen (9-9), in which the teams combined for 57 fouls and 73 free-throw attempts.
“I want our kids in those games, and not many people thought we’d be in the final four of the big-school (division),” Darden said. “But we are, and we’re going to have a tough time tonight and with whoever we play (Saturday). They’ll be tough. But it will help us in district play, and that’s exciting.”
One thing Darden said he’d like to see his team do as the season progresses is learn to press without fouling. Friday afternoon, that wasn’t going to happen.
Perhaps the only thing that allowed the Fillies to keep pressing and be more effective in doing so than Monterey was a deeper bench. Only one Shallowater player, senior center Rebekah Jones, had more than three fouls, while five other Fillies had at least three.
By contrast, Monterey had three players foul out — starters Sidnee Harrison, Karolyne McMillian and Shazay Norris — and two other players finished with four fouls. Shallowater was 27 of 38 from the charity stripe, compared with 16 of 35 for the Lady Plainsmen.
“Chuck summed it up best at the end of the game when we met at halfcourt, that it just boiled down to who could make their free throws,” said Monterey coach Jill Schneider, whose team was set to take on the Lubbock Titans in a third-place bracket semifinal at 9 p.m. at Cooper later Friday. “The bottom line is we got beat by seven and missed 19 free throws.
“With the exception of free throws, I was extremely proud of our effort. It was a hard-fought game, and in the middle of the game, I was thinking someone is having to give this effort and has to turn around and play Coronado tonight. Both teams put it all out there.”
The physical nature of the game was created by both teams getting in a full-court press and staying there for most of the contest. Not only did that create fouls and free-throw opportunities, it also created turnovers.
The teams combined for 34 turnovers — 18 for Monterey and 16 for Shallowater. Still, despite the physical nature of the game and the immense number of fouls, neither team considered pulling out of the press.
Schneider said she couldn’t do it because by trailing for most of the second half, it would allow Shallowater to pull the ball out and run time off the clock. Darden didn’t pull back — though he admitted he should have much earlier than he did late in the game — because that’s how he wants his team to play for four quarters.
Monterey was able to temporarily thwart Shallowater’s pressure late in the third quarter, tying the game at 29 on a three-point play by Harrison then getting a free throw from Norris to take a 30-29 lead. The Fillies, however, closed the quarter with a 6-2 run, capped by a Summer Pearson 3-pointer from the top of the key with 49.2 seconds left to forge a 36-32 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Shallowater then opened the fourth on a 10-0 run, all on free throws, to put the game away.
Kelsee Smith led all scorers with 14 points for Shallowater, going 11 of 12 from the free-throw line. Jones added 12 points and 10 rebounds.
Libby Sloan and McMillian led the Lady Plainsmen with 11 points each.
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SHALLOWATER 53, MONTEREY 46
SHALLOWATER — Breckel 1 0-0 3, Jones 4 4-7 12, Willer 1 1-2 3, Almsted 0 0-0 0, Harkey 2 2-4 6, Mitchell 0 2-2 2, Bennett 0 2-2 2, Smith 1 11-12 14, Pearson 1 2-2 5, Maldonado 1 3-7 5. Totals 11 27-38 53.
MONTEREY — Landry 0 0-0 0, Sloan 3 4-6 11, Davis 2 2-2 7, Robison 1 0-0 3, Lawley 1 0-0 2, Harrison 2 1-7 5, McMillian 3 5-8 11, Harvey 0 0-0 0, Sessums 1 0-2 3, Norris 0 4-10 4. Totals 13 16-35 46.
Shallowater 9 14 13 17 — 53
Monterey 9 9 14 14 — 46
3-point goals: Shallowater 4 (Breckel, Willer, Smith, Pearson); Monterey 4 (Sessums, Robison, Davis, Sloan). Total fouls: Shallowater 27, Monterey 30. Fouled out: Monterey, Harrison, McMillian, Norris. Technical fouls: none. Records: Shallowater 18-0; Monterey 9-9.