From the opening tipoff, Ball High was in cruise control Tuesday night.
Ari Smith led the charge with 16 points, half of those in the first quarter, to pace the Lady Tornadoes to a 50-32 District 23-5A victory over the visiting Fort Bend Elkins Lady Knights at Ball High School.
The Lady Tors improved to 8-1 in league play, 17-6 overall, and also gained in reality a three-game cushion over third-place Elkins (6-3).
“Ari hit a couple of quick ones and ignited the scoring run,” Ball High coach Sonny Benefield said. “She had a tremendous game.”
In fact, Smith scored Ball High’s first six points, the second basket coming off a Nina Kovach steal and nifty Kaila Lee backdoor pass.
Smith then grabbed a steal of her own and dropped in a short jumper before the Lady Tors put together a 10-0 run that pushed their lead to 14-4 by the 2:01 mark in the first quarter.
Bebe Galloway had five of those points with a fast-break layup and a 3-pointer, finishing the game with 14 total.
“They thought they could play man on us, and that started to hurt them when we run our stuff properly,” Benefield said of the quick start.
By the end of the quarter, Ball High was still up by 10, 18-8.
The Lady Tors then increased their margin to 24-8 with another scoring spurt at the start of the second period.
Galloway stole a pass under the Elkins basket for an easy layup, and Lee followed with a layup off a Dazya Mitchell feed. Smith then tossed in a jumper from the free throw line to give Ball High its commanding lead.
At halftime, the Lady Tors led 30-16 thanks in part to a Galloway rebound and lay-in off her own miss.
Elkins actually pulled to within 30-20 early in the third quarter before Ball High responded with a Lee jumper and a Smith layup to own a 35-22 advantage after three quarters.
Monet Jones, the Lady Knights’ leading scorer with 18 points, opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer to cut the gap to 35-25, but that was as close as Elkins would get.
Twin 7-0 scoring sprees down the stretch extended the Lady Tors’ lead to 50-28, with Mitchell dropping in a pair of layups along the way.
Now Ball High can turn its attention to Texas City, a 39-13 winner over Fort Bend Marshall on Tuesday. The Lady Tors host the Lady Stings at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
“We’ve got a big one next Tuesday,” Benefield said of Texas City (5-4 in district). “They’ve been playing well.
“You hate to look ahead, but if we continue to improve and play how we’re capable and not get into foul trouble, we have a chance when we go to Manvel (on Feb. 3). That’s why we have to get better.”
Adding to the Lady Tors’ point totals were Mitchell with nine, Lee with eight and Kovach with three.
Benefield also lauded the play of Caroline Termini, who stepped in for Galloway and played well.