The Athens Review
The No. 1 team in the land found another way to put together a dominating win on Wednesday afternoon in the opening round of the Region XIV conference tournament at UT-Tyler.
Coach Elena Lovato’s Lady Cardinals’ outscored Tyler 49-28 in the second half for an 87-47 win.
“I think they put together a nice final score but at the same time I think we need to work on defensive rotations,” Lovato said. “We kept bailing out No. 3 (Robertson) because we could not contain her dribble drive. I think that is one thing that we need to work on for the next game.”
The Lady Cardinals will face the winner of the Panola vs. Angelina contest on Friday at 1 p.m. in the semifinals.
“No matter which team wins, we are going to have to get back on our high horse defensively,” Lovato said. “Both of those teams like to push the ball and our focus will be on transition defense and trying to get clean stops in the next game.”
TVCC (30-1) came out of the gate a little flat in the first six minutes of the contest as TJC held a 8-6 lead on the Lady Cardinals.
Adrienne Phillips found Carolina Lopez for the old-fashioned three point play with 14:28 remaining in the half to give them their biggest lead of the game.
TVCC then went on a 10-0 run to take a 16-8 lead on baskets a three-pointer by Krystle Henderson, a free throw by Kyhonta Doughty, a rebound basket by Adut Bulgak and free throws by Shlonte’ Allen and Shannon Smith.
Following a rebound basket by TJC’s Bria Emanuel to give cut the Lady Cards lead to 16-10 with 10 minutes remaining, TVCC found the spark they needed.
The Lady Cards scored 71 points in the final 30 minutes of the contest.
“Honestly I think it must have been first game jitters and we were a little more focused in the second half,” Lovato said. “We are never satisfied with the results of the game with how talented this group is and people have high expectations of them.”
The Lady Cardinals defense tightened up the remainder of the first half as they outscored TJC, 22-9, to take a 38-19 lead into the locker room.
In the first half, the neither team shot the ball well from the field as TVCC went 30.2 percent, while Tyler went 33.3 percent.
TVCC went 13-of-43 from inside the arc and four-of-17 from the three-point line.
Savannah Carter and Allen scored 11 points each for the Lady Cardinals in the first half.
Lovato said once the game was in hand in the second half, she was able to focus more on her substitutions and working on game situations.
“We tried to get everybody in there at the end so we were subbing five-for-five just to get the jitters out from everybody,” Lovato said. “I want to get more out of my bigs and I thought it was important to get them in the game and having them get in a role.”
She said knowing how difficult the season was for Tyler, it was interesting to see the two teams meeting up in the opening round.
“Coach (Trenia) Jones has been dealing with injuries and she didn’t have the roster that she started out with at the start of the season,” Lovato said. “We were probably thinking early on that it would be Trinity Valley and Tyler for the Region XIV championship. I have a 100-percent healthy team right now so I am lucky as a coach.”
Carter led the way for TVCC with a game-high 22 points and 10 rebounds, while Allen finished with 19 and Smith added 18 points.
TVCC shot 43 percent from the field compared to 32.7 percent for the Tyler.