The Cleburne Lady Jackets controlled play for much of the night en route to a 67-40 win Friday over the rival Joshua Lady Owls at Jeff D. Cody Arena.
Cleburne's Haley Jones had a big night as the senior guard recorded a double-double with a game-high 29 points and 12 rebounds to help the Lady Jackets even their mark at 2-2 in District 14-5A play (13-14 overall). The Lady Owls dropped to 3-2 in league play.
“It was a big win,” Cleburne coach Rosalind Lawrence said.. “Coming off the Midlothian loss, this was a good win for us. I think overall as a team we played well. Haley played exceptionally well and Bridget [Cockran] gave us some good minutes off the bench.”
The Lady Jackets jumped out to a commanding 20-3 lead in the first quarter and maintained a double-digit advantage the rest of the first half, including a 36-18 lead at halftime.
“If we hadn't started like that, it would've been a close one because of the third quarter,” Lawrence said. “But I was really proud of our kids because we came out and executed our game plan from the start. Normally [Joshua doesn't] play man-to-man. They play that 1-2-2 zone, but we executed against it so well that they ended up playing man-to-man the last two-and-a-half quarters.”
In the third quarter, Joshua went on a 12-3 run to cut Cleburne's lead into single digits at 39-30. The two teams exchanged baskets over the next few minutes as Cleburne held a 42-33 lead with just over 2 minutes left in the third quarter.
From there, the Lady Jackets put things out of reach. Cleburne ended the game on a 25-7 run, outscoring Joshua 17-5 in the fourth quarter.
Jones scored 27 of her 29 points in the first three quarters as she sat more than half of the fourth quarter. Jones nearly had recorded a double-double by halftime with 19 points and eight rebounds.
Cleburne also received strong efforts from sophomore Zoe Wilson and senior Wendel'lyn Moblin. Wilson scored 10 points and grabbed seven rebounds while Moblin added 15 points and five boards.
Four of Wilson's seven rebounds came on the offensive end, which accounted for most of her points on second-chance opportunities, which was something Lawrence stressed during practice preparing for Joshua.
“It's like the proudest moment as a coach when you work on something and your kids actually go out and execute,” Lawrence said. “We talked about backside rebounds in the post because it's hard to block out when you're in the zone. Zoe really made them pay. I've already said this, but Zoe is our most improved player and she works really hard.”
Junior point guard Malea Whiteside scored eight points with six assists and four rebounds while Cockran added four points and two assists off the bench.
Lawrence said when players such as Wilson, Whiteside and Cockran can contribute in the scoring column, it helps alleviate some of the scoring pressure off Jones and Moblin.
“Bridget literally beat her man down the floor one play, which is just effort,” Lawrence said. “I'm so happy and so proud of her. I'm always rooting for the kids who aren't always the most talented but got a little fight in them. Bridget has a lot of potential, it's just about her believing in herself and then working. So I was proud to see her contribute.
“Malea and Zoe had a few buckets, so it's nice when players who don't typically score a lot add some offense and that helps us separate. It's nice when Haley and Dub don't have to bear a lot of the weight.”
Senior guard Ellie Berry and sophomore post Kamdyn Graves led the Lady Owls with 10 points apiece, with Graves adding seven rebounds.
Cleburne shot a strong 53.4 percent from the floor while Joshua made just 29.7 percent of its attempts. The Lady Jackets committed only nine turnovers compared to the Lady Owls' 18. Cleburne also out-rebounded Joshua, 28-19.
The Lady Jackets will visit Ennis at 6:15 p.m. Tuesday.