Irving MacArthur seniors Sarah Andrews and Hannah Gusters were both irresistible force and immovable object on Tuesday night, and that spelled disaster for Flower Mound.
The Lady Cardinals’ prized five-star duo, playing in just their seventh game together this season, turned in their most resounding collaboration of that short timeframe — combining for 50 points and fueling MacArthur to a 60-48 road win over the Lady Jaguars to secure back-to-back district championships.
Gusters scored 28 points and Andrews poured in 22 — the highest combined point total between the two Baylor commits — to bury Flower Mound early on. With the help of some aggressive ball pressure that created seven first-quarter turnovers, Gusters and Andrews struck for 12 and eight points, respectively, in the first quarter to pace a 22-6 lead through the opening eight minutes.
“This was a team that has been there before against a team that hasn’t,” said Sherika Nelson, Flower Mound head coach. “When you’ve got two All-Americans who have been in these situations before, it shows. By the time we settled down, it was too late. We played with them for the other three quarters, but that start killed us. Turnovers led to too many points for them.”
Andrews added five steals in the win as part of 13 first-half turnovers committed by the Lady Jaguars, who never got the margin back to single digits after falling behind 17-6 with 2:15 left in the opening stanza following a steal-and-score by the MacArthur point guard.
Flower Mound steadily found its groove on offense behind 17 points from freshman Madison Cox, who poured in 12 over the final two quarters on a number of attacks opposite the 6-foot-4 Gusters.
“Maddy is a sponge. She loves to learn and loves competition. She hates to lose and when that balls gets tipped, she’s ready to go,” Nelson said. “I’m excited for these next three years with her and excited for the playoff run.”
Senior Mackenzie Schott, playing in her final home game as a Lady Jaguar, added 14 points in the setback, while sophomore Sarah Edmondson pulled down nine rebounds on top of seven points, as Flower Mound settles for the No. 2 seed heading into the postseason. Flower Mound draws Southlake Carroll for the bi-district round, set for 7 p.m. Monday at Colleyville Heritage.
Lewisville, Hebron draw co-champs
No tiebreakers were necessary in determining the final pecking order of the 6-6A girls standings. While MacArthur and Flower Mound tussled for district bragging rights on Tuesday, the Lewisville and Hebron girls polished off their respective regular seasons on a winning note to secure the last two postseason berths from the conference.
The Lady Farmers will enter the playoffs as the No. 3 seed after slowing Marcus for a 49-39 win to conclude their district campaign at 10-4. The Lady Hawks, meanwhile, draw the No. 4 seed on the heels of a 74-33 blowout of Irving Nimitz to settle in at 8-6 in conference action.
Just who Hebron and Lewisville will square off against remains to be seen, with Keller and Denton Guyer — respectively ranked Nos. 8 and 9 in 6A by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches — splitting the 5-6A title after a pair of 13-1 seasons.
The Lady Indians and Lady Wildcats will square off Friday in a game to determine the top seed from the district. The winner of the matchup draws Hebron in the bi-district round and the losers plays Lewisville.
Jaguars’ comeback falls short
Despite trailing by as many as 19 points, a second-half rally by the Flower Mound boys narrowly missed the mark on Tuesday, as MacArthur claimed an 81-76 road win over the Jaguars to move into second place in 6-6A.
The Cardinals’ offense was practically flawless in the first half, riding 10 made 3-pointers and a wealth of finishes at the rim to a 52-37 advantage over the Jaguars. Five different MacArthur players knocked down at least one triple over the first two quarters, while post man Kenny Hardy had his way inside with the Flower Mound frontcourt en route to 23 points and 10 rebounds.
Sixth man Marcus Rigsby led all scorers with 26 points, while Flower Mound got 22 from senior Jeffrey Mills. The Air Force commit helped spark a second-half charge by the Jaguars, who extended their defense to more of a full-court trapping scheme that slowed the Cardinals’ perimeter onslaught to just one made 3-pointer over the final two quarters.
Flower Mound’s offense heated up as well, closing the third stanza on a 9-2 run capped by a 3-pointer by senior Jonathan Ryan to close the gap to 64-57. Ryan, who didn’t enter the game for the first time until late in the third stanza, authored a number of key moments to trim that deficit even more, including a short base-line jumper with 1:30 remaining to make it 72-70 MacArthur.
The Cardinals, despite some close calls late, didn’t let that margin creep any closer, pulling away from the free throw line to take hold of second place.