The No. 2 Trinity Valley Community College Lady Cardinals showed just how they deal with adversity Wednesday night against the Panola Fillies.

After being outscored 22-8 the last five minutes of the first half, the Lady Cardinals turned the tables in the second half to roll to a 102-67 win in Region XIV Conference play.

“This was really good for us,” TVCC coach Michael Landers said after the game.

“We needed a little wake up call from time to time. This is just how teams in the playoffs that don’t have anything to lose will play us.

“They got a little better on defense during that run late in the second half, but we were just standing around. We got a little comfortable and it showed.”

TVCC raised its conference record to 15-0, clinching the conference title, and 25-1 overall. Panola dropped to 15-12 overall and 6-10 in conference play.

The game became very eventful in the second half. Panola Coach Tracey Stellato and her assistant, which is her husband, Jimmy Stellato, were ejected from the game.

At the 10:15 mark of the second half, Panola’s Karee Houlette was given a technical foul for protesting a call following a foul. That gave TVCC four free throws to put the Lady Cardinals in the lead, 72-57.

Just over a minute later, Jimmy Stellato slammed his clipboard on the floor in disgust of a player’s performance and received a technical. Upset over that call, he stepped onto the floor and the official ejected him from the game. A couple of minutes later, Panola’s Katy Baskin fouled out and Tracey Stellato failed to replace the player in the allotted time and received a technical and was ejected from the game.

Without a coach on the bench, or even in the building, Panola men’s coach Scott Monarch finished the game on the bench.

“Tracey is a great coach, Landers said. “She used to be my assistant when I was at East Texas Baptist, but I know that official and she does not mess around. My first year here she gave me a tech in the very first game and after that I knew she meant business.

“I think one of the officials had warned her once about things, so sometimes you have to back off and just coach.”

The Lady Cardinals jumped out to a 38-18 lead in the first half with moves from Shannon Bobbitt, Dominique Chism, and company. TVCC forced turnovers, made incredible bounce passes up the middle and knocked down three-pointers that caused Panola all kinds of problems.

“We were really on a good run in most of the first half,” Landers said. “We were playing OK defense, but we were rebounding well and that mad a huge difference on our fast breaks. It was that last five minutes that we couldn’t seem to overcome.”

Livia Medeiros found her shot from three-point range for the Fillies and then Tasha Marisett and Dalannia Jackson started working the boards and came up with four rebounds in a row that resulted in three-point plays from fouls. If they weren’t firing it up from the outside, they would feed it to Jackson inside, sometimes wide open.

“It was like we were just standing there for that five minutes,” Landers said. “I started to call a timeout, but I really wanted them to have to go through a little adversity like that and have to react to it. I promise you we will come up on that again and they need to step it up when that happens and know how to handle it.”

By the end of the first half, Panola came within four points of Lady Cardinals, 44-40.

The second half was a complete turnaround. Jokeirra Sneed, who had a team-high 25 points and Bobbitt put on a clinic and a crowd-pleasing performance that might have the WNBA drooling. They weaved in and out of the middle, danced around the baseline and jacked it up from seemingly miles away to go on an 18-8 run in the first three minutes of the last half.

“I just told them at halftime that you have to find a way to overcome what is not going right in the first half,” Landers said. “If we stand around hoping it will get fixed, it never will. If we get back to playing defense like we know how and press like we know how then we will overcome those things.”

Others scoring for the Lady Cardinals were Corkey Stiger and Bobbitt with 17 each, Chism 14, Simone Cooks 11, Artavia Burns eight, Joy Igechukwu seven and Courtney Simmons four,

Leading the way for Panola were Marisett 27, Philnisha Lindsey 18.

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