After a disappointing loss in its district opener to Denison, the McKinney North girls basketball team rebounded with a 50-45 road victory over Princeton.
North was able to make several big baskets in the second half to bounce back from a tough shooting game against Denison. More importantly, the Lady Bulldogs improve to .500 in a district where one game can be the difference between being in or out of the playoffs.
“This win was huge for us because you don’t want to go 0-2 in this district and our kids came out and produced an opposite shooting night from what we had last week,” Veronica Hamilton, North head coach said. “Nobody likes to lose, but sometimes it’s a wake-up call and I’m proud of how we responded today after a bad game last time out.”
North led by as many as 17 points in the second half and never trailed in the game despite being tied three times and holding off a late Princeton rally. The Lady Bulldogs were led by the talented duo of senior Chelsea Wooten and junior Amaria Fields, who combined to score 49 of North’s 50 points while dealing with Princeton’s triangle-and-two defensive schemes.
“We made them work for everything tonight because they are great players and great players make great shots and we made them earn their points tonight,” Carla Denning, Princeton head coach. “We fought to the end and that’s been the case since I got here and it’s cool that everyone in the community is all in and supports our team.”
Wooten and Fields took turns taking over the game while scoring 25 and 24 points, respectively.
Fields took the lead in the first half after scoring North’s final seven points of the second quarter to finish the half with 14 points and five rebounds to give the Lady Bulldogs a 25-22 lead at halftime. The talented junior’s mentality gave Princeton problems as she was able to get to the foul line for six attempts in the half while setting a positive tone on her way to scoring a game-high 25 points.
“I came out with an aggressive mindset and focused on winning this game because losing to Denison was a feeling we aren’t trying to get use to,” Fields said. “Getting off to the good start was great because it allowed us to settle in and play our game so that we can get this big road victory in district.”
Wooten took her turn as the lead in the second half by scoring 14 of her 24 points, including a nice stretch where she drained back-to-back 3-pointers and converted an and-one on consecutive trips down the court to give North a 47-31 lead. North’s senior captain also set the tone defensively by swiping a couple of key steals late, which allowed the Lady Bulldogs to hold off a furious late Princeton rally that included nine points scored in the final 1:12 of the game.
“I got it going in the second half. I found my rhythm and was a little bit more focused on both ends of the court,” Wooten said. “I’m very proud of my team because we wanted it more in the second half and were able to give ourselves a nice cushion down the stretch because we played well on both ends of the court. Everybody plays Amaria and I with a triangle-and-two defense and we proved tonight, and going forward, it doesn’t matter what you throw at us. We are ready and come and stop us.”