Injuries hampered the Ball High Lady Tors’ effort, as a freshly full-strength Friendswood Lady Mustangs squad logged an impressive 63-43 road win Monday afternoon.
“Coming down to the island can always be a tough place to play, and their girls always battle,” Friendswood head coach Daron Scott said. “That’s a good road win for us, and it’s good to have everybody back. Our rotations were normal, so those were all positives for us.”
Until Monday’s game with the entire roster having a clean bill of health, Scott said his team was missing as many as three starters at certain points in the young season.
Conversely, Ball High was without standout starting sophomore post Bebe Galloway, who was a late scratch due to injury, and the Lady Tors are seeing another one of their leaders, senior forward Nina Kovach, work herself back to 100 percent after suffering a major knee injury in the team’s final playoff game last season.
“The kids have been working really hard, and I feel like the kids have been taking steps in the right direction,” Ball High head coach Amanda King said. “Today was definitely a tough loss, and it was difficult for us to replace (Galloway).”
Fueled by eight points from junior guard Ari Smith, Ball High built a 12-5 lead late in the first quarter, but a 3-point play the old-fashioned way from Lady Mustangs freshman post Ashlyn Mason sparked Friendswood, which amped its pressure defense in the second quarter to swing momentum.
With a 23-20 lead at the 2:52 mark of the second quarter, Friendswood scored the final six points of the first half and scored the first five points of the second half for a commanding double-digit lead.
With Friendswood ahead, 46-35, at the 6:31 mark of the fourth quarter, the Lady Mustangs embarked on a 13-2 run — highlighted by a slick steal by sophomore guard Nicole Nash and assist to senior guard Priya Ponia — to essentially put the game away.
Ten different players scored at least two points for the Lady Mustangs, led by Nash and Ponia with 17 points apiece. Friendswood’s defense won the turnover battle, 27-15, including 18-7 in the second half when the Lady Mustangs pulled away.
“We’re learning a lot of lessons along the way,” Scott said. “We’re trying to be more aggressive, attacking the basket, not settling for jumpers, and I think you saw that in this game. So, that message is getting across. We have a lot more adjustments to make, but I’m proud of the growth this team is making, and we’ll be ready for 24-6A when the time comes.”
Smith (19 points) and senior forward Kaila Lee (10 points) carried Ball High’s offense.
Up next, Friendswood hosts Fort Bend Elkins at 1:30 p.m. today, and Ball High returns to action 7 p.m. next Tuesday in its District 23-5A opener at home against Elkins.
“I’m just looking forward to them to keep developing a tough defensive style and keep working together as a team,” King said.