The Nocona Lady Indians were able to evade a long drought on Friday as their area playoff win against Merkel at Graham High School breaks a two-decade streak for the program.
The Lady Indians took control in the second half on their way to an easy 63-47 win against the Lady Badgers, marking the first time the Nocona girl’s basketball team has won an area playoff game since 1995 according to the team.
The opening minutes saw the Lady Indians come out to claim a 6-2 lead in the first two minutes. The game slowed down a bit the next three minutes as Merkel came back to tie the game at 8-8.
Both teams traded four-point bursts and made one free throw each, but the Lady Badgers made a three-pointer to put themselves up 16-13 heading into the second quarter.
It was a physical game with not many fouls called in the first half as both teams raced up and down the floor. In the half court, Merkel tried to score by getting close shots passed to them from their post players who were set up in the high post.
Nocona had to deal with top scorer Averee Kleinhans getting the personal guard treatment even without the ball.
They could get her the ball if needed and she still was able to get to the basket anytime she wanted as she scored 14 of her teams 16 points in the second quarter.
The Lady Indians were able to push the ball with long outlet passes off of forced turnovers and rebounds to open up a 22-17 lead. They were able to keep that margin heading into halftime, leading 29-24, but the lead was far from comfortable.
The third quarter was where Nocona established complete control over the game. Everything the Lady Indians did in the second quarter to establish their little bit of a lead was multiplied. The defense was tighter, which allowed more opportunities to push the ball. More fouls were called, which meant more free throw attempts Nocona was able to take advantage.
The effort plays and 50-50 plays were mostly going the Lady Indians way and as the lead got into the double digits. The hope was going away for the Lady Badgers.
Kleinhans scored 15 of her teams19 points in the quarter, punctuated by a circus layup she maid falling to the ground as she got fouled. Nocona’s 48-33 lead felt much better heading into the fourth quarter.
Merkel would not only need a huge quarter to come back, but also need help from the Lady Indians laying an egg.
Early attempts in the quarter to hold the ball from Nocona saw the Lady Badgers cut the lead to 53-42, but with only 3:20 left, time was running out. Merkel was forced to foul and hope the Lady Indians missed their free throws.
Unfortunately for the Lady Badgers, Nocona was able to make 10 points worth of free throws to end the game as the Lady Indians won 63-47.
To read the full story, pick up a copy of the mid-week edition of the Bowie News.