The Ball High Lady Tors survived their first of many tough tests in district play as they held off the Fort Bend Elkins Lady Knights, 55-49, at home on Tuesday night.
Playing in their District 23-5A opener, the Lady Tors built a 10-point lead in the first half before holding off the Lady Knights in a close second half.
“It was a great way to start district,” said Ball High head coach Amanda King. “Our girls came out and played hard it was certainly a close game but I’m proud of our girls.”
Nina Kovach had 17 points and was 8-for-9 from the free throw line for the Lady Tors, while Bebe Galloway had 16 points. Ari Smith put up 13 points.
Erin Randle had 17 points to lead the Lady Knights, while Ashley Daniel had 12 and Angel Parker finished the night with six.
The Lady Tors began the night on an 8-2 run thanks to a 3-pointer and a block by Kovach.
A basket by Smith placed the Lady Tors in another six-point advantage with 2:36 left in the first quarter.
Randle’s third inside shot of the night cut the Lady Tors’ lead to 18-10 at the end of the first quarter.
Galloway made her presence known on defense, blocking two shots in a two-minute span early in the second quarter.
Both teams struggled on offense to start the second quarter, as only two free throws total were the only points two minutes into the frame.
That changed when Randle and Kovach exchanged baskets.
Galloway’s inside jumper gave the Lady Tors a 10-point advantage with 3:41 remaining in the half.
Sydney Sandford scored her first two baskets in the second quarter for Elkins, with the latter coming from 3-point land and the Lady Tors went into the locker room with a 29-24 halftime lead.
Through the first two quarters, only three players on both sides had scored a field goal.
Daniel’s turnaround basket came at the start of the second half and the Lady Knights were at a 3-point deficit.
Parker’s first deuce of the night cut the Lady Tors’ lead to 29-28 with 6:38 left in the third.
She soon followed it up with a 3-pointer and the Lady Knights had their first lead of the night.
But a technical foul against Sandford saw Kovach go to the charity stripe where she made both shots to put Ball High back in front.
“A player with as much experience as Nina will always be ready at the free throw line,” King said.
For the entire third frame, the game hung in the balance with both teams taking turns going in front.
A transition layup by Galloway put Ball High in front 40-38 heading into the fourth quarter.
Daniel’s free throw bit at the Lady Tors’ lead, cutting the gap to 43-42 with 3:50 left in the game.
“I thought that was a great opening night for district play,” said Elkins head coach Cheryl Williams. “Ball High is a tough team. I thought they did an amazing job. They scored when they had to. They kept us at bay. But any close game is a winnable game and I’m glad that we were in it.”
A foul sent Kovach to the line where she made both shots before Smith followed it up on a transition layup and Elkins took a timeout at the 2:40 mark.
“I was proud of the girls for playing hard on defense,” King said. “They were up and down the court and I was glad that they stuck with it. It was a team effort tonight.”
Free throws by Kaila Lee gave the Lady Tors some breathing room before a 3-pointer by Randle made it a two-point game with under a minute left.
But Galloway and Smith both converted from the line off fouls in the closing seconds and the Lady Tors survived.