Dragons’ depth too much for Judson
AREA TEAMS INCLUDED: Southwest.
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Southwest has plenty of talent. Now it’s finding ways to blend its abilities together, and that should concern its District 28-6A rivals.
Junior wing Alexandra Busby said the Dragons (12-4) unlocked some of their potential Friday in a 48-35 non-district win over Judson (8-9) at Southwest.
“We’re learning to suck it up and play (through) our mental mistakes,” said Busby, who led Southwest with 15 points. “We didn’t pout. Tonight, we were really positive. We played well the whole game.
“We were a much different team.”
The victory extended the Dragons’ winning streak to three games. They’ve won four of their last five.
“We had that little stretch in the fourth quarter where we stopped scoring,” Southwest coach Bill Avey said. “Fortunately, for the most part, we took it to them.”
Judson’s press bothered the Dragons on their first few possessions, but Southwest then made crisp passes and used them to set up good shots. It also attacked the glass relentlessly.
Southwest finished the game with a 24-19 rebounding edge. The Dragons also won the turnover battle, forcing Judson into 18 with an active halfcourt trapping zone and only commiting 11 – sixth in the fourth quarter after the Rockets reinstated its press.
“We just thought we had to play zone because of their quickness,” Avey said of the switch from Southwest’s traditional man-to-man. “We wanted to take away the lane and force them to take (three-point shots). They hit a couple, but you have to live with that.”
After falling behind 7-1 in the first two minutes, the Dragons took the lead by scoring the next seven points.
Busby (6 rebounds, 3 assists) began the streak with three-point basket. Briana Longoria (8 points, 6 assists) drove and earned a pair of free throws, making each. Senior post Cheyenne Ortiz made an immediate impact off the bench, grabbing two rebounds.
Southwest’s post players combined for 18 points and 13 rebounds.
“We’ve been emphasizing post play,” Avey said. “That’s a big part of our team. We have a sort of a post-by-committee. Playing the post is such a tough job. So, we rotate them to keep them fresher. That makes the team better.”
The Dragons closed the first half with a 10-3 run. Senior Emilee Martinez scored off a rebound. Busby and Longoria sank consecutive three-point shots. Busby finished the half with a driving layup, which provided a 29-19 lead.
“We got running on our press break,” Busby explained. “Our posts can move, and they were open every time.”
Southwest outscored Judson 37-15 in the middle two quarters, but the Rockets cut the Dragons’ lead to 44-33 midway through the fourth quarter on a short jumper from Alicia Westbrook. Martinez scored on an assist from Aaliyah Holmes (8 points, 6 assists) with 1:52 left. She grabbed a defensive rebound on the ensuing possession to extinguish the threat.
“It was really good,” Busby said. “We played great defense and were actually talking to each other. Offensively, we weren’t standing around. We had the post open and the shooters open. Everything was open.”
Of the eight players Southwest employed Friday, seven returned from its 2014 area-round team. However, the Dragons are without sisters Jenyl (season-ending knee injury) and Karyssa Henry (hand injury), both of whom started a year ago.
Karyssa, a sophomore point guard, is expected to return before the Dragons begin district play. They gained Holmes, whose sister Shana is the school’s all-time leading scorer, in the offseason when her military family moved back to the area.
“Aaliyah has been unbelievable all year,” Avey said. “She can score, pass and play great defense. She has great court vision.”