By REID TUCKER
The Lady Cats and Bobcats leveled Ponce de Leon’s girls and boys squads in the district foes’ second meeting of ’13-‘14 season.
The District 1-A foes met in back-to-back games on the night of Jan. 10, and the Paxton guys and gals made a good case for the home-court advantage. The Lady Cats (16-2, 7-1) came away with a 46-24 win against the injury-beset Lady Pirates (11-8, 6-3), a big change of pace from the one-basket victory margin of their Dec. 10 matchup. On the boys’ side, the Bobcats waltzed their way to a 65-23 win, improving to 17-2 on the season with a 7-1 district record, while PDL’s boys fell to 5-9, 3-4.
Paxton’s girls came out swinging and rolled up a 13-zip lead in the first quarter with Katie Sebastian and Emily Murray racking up a trio of 3-pointers between them. August Brown, Mollie Sweat and Hannah Howell did their best to tack on 15 points for the Lady Pirates in the second quarter, but Paxton stayed nine points to the good due to a tighter inside game and some timely trips to the stripe. The gulf opened up even wider in the third period despite Paxton’s worst scoring minutes of the whole game – the Lady Cats put up just eight points, but it was still more than the three of PDL, which only made 1-of-7 shots from the floor.
Ponce’s tough night shooting got tougher in the fourth quarter, as the team went 1-for-11 in field goal attempts, though that 3-pointer was a spectacular long-range example indeed from Howell to make it 34-21 with 6:18 showing on the clock. The outside shooting of Paxton continued to prevail down the stretch, but it was high-scorer Bethany Neale’s constant hammering under the basket gave the Lady Cats a lead of more than 20 points from 4:00 through the end. Neale went on to score 13 points in the contest, and Sebastian contributed 11, while Howell scored 12 for the Lady Pirates.
The boys’ game was even more lopsided in the home team’s favor. The Bobcats put on a clinic in the first quarter when they nailed 10-of-13 shots from the floor to the Pirates’ 1-for-9 showing. Paxton had a light touch on offense all night, as the team made 60 percent of its field goal attempts but sticky hands on defense paid dividends too. The Bobcats swiped the ball away or snatched it down more than 10 times before the break and forced nearly that many turnovers again in the second half.
Paxton turned a 26-3 first quarter lead into 37-8 going into halftime, with William Anderson, Austin Carnley and Zach Varnum leading the way early on. Desmond Moore, who went on to be the second-highest scoring player on the floor with 11 points on the night, scored only in the first and third quarters, but he made layups and free-throws when it counted. Similarly, Devin Huckaba started out slow but remained constant throughout to lead the Bobcats with 12 points, and Paxton led 49-16 by the end of Q3.
The Bobcats couldn’t quite run up the 35-point lead needed for a running clock until right after the start of the final quarter, when Huckaba, under two-on-one coverage made a highlight-reel worthy shot at the last instant before falling out of bounds. In fact, only Andrew Howell and Huckaba made baskets for Paxton in the fourth quarter, but the Bobcats’ lead was so substantial by then that it was more than enough to hold on for a 42-point win.
By REID TUCKER