ROWLETT GIRLS BASKETBALL NEVAEH ZAVALA

Rowlett sophomore Nevaeh Zavala scored a team-high 26 points as the Eagles posted a 67-41win over Naaman Forest in the 10-6A opener for both teams on Friday.

Rowlett had its way against Naaman Forest less than a week ago at the Curtis Culwell Invitational, as they rolled to a 64-26 rout.

The Eagles knew not to put much stock in that result, as they stakes were much higher when they traveled to face the Rangers on Friday in the 10-6A opener.

The slate might have been wiped clean, but the script was a similar one, as Rowlett raced to an early lead and never looked back en route to a 67-41 victory at Naaman Forest High School.

“This was such a great team, team, team win for us,” Rowlett head coach Alexis Hill said. “We knew they were going to make adjustments, so we needed to make adjustments, as well, so I’m very proud of the girls, the energy was great, the JV and freshmen were awesome tonight, so that makes it a lot of fun for us.”

Sophomore Nevaeh Zavala continues to round into form after arriving late due to volleyball and then missing some time with an illness. A first-team all-district selection a year ago as a freshman, Zavala once again showed why she earned that honor at the expense of the Rangers, utilizing an array of moves to the basket to amass a team-high 26 points on 11-of-18 shooting to go along with eight rebounds.

“When she can fully become in basketball mode from volleyball mode and really understand all the offensive and defensive schematics, I can move her around to any position I want, which is going to be really exciting," Hill said. "She is such an athletic player, she has developed a great outside shot and so she’s just going to become so versatile for us and really that is going to fit for our team because everybody is really versatile. We’ve got many players that play two or three positions, so to work her into that mix is going to be awesome for us.”

Rowlett essentially took control during a dominant first half that saw them shoot better than 50 percent from the floor in opening a 36-13 halftime lead. While the offense was efficient, the defense did its job, as well, holding Naaman Forest to just 29.4 percent shooting (5-of-17) and forcing 12 turnovers.

The Eagles consistently broke down the Ranger press and pounded the boards for easy baskets in the paint and that was evident from the start, as putbacks by Zavala and Madilyn Rodriguez and layups from Reagan Warren and Ryllie Booker staked them to a quick 8-0 lead.

Naaman Forest crept back to within six after a jumper by J’nya Jones, but Rowlett countered with a 10-2 run, with Rodriguez knocking down a pair of 3-pointers and Zavala and Jordan Myers scoring to take a 20-6 lead at the end of the frame.

Warren converted a four-point play and Zavala hit a layup to push the advantage to 20 early in the second quarter and they followed that up with a 10-0 spurt led by Zavala and Taiyana Pitts to make it 36-10.

To Naaman Forest’s credit, they never gave up and battled tough in the second half, which saw Shamrin Shaw score 14 of her team-high 19 points and Gabby Robinson tally 14 of her 16, but the Eagles never allowed a serious run.

Zavala scored eight points in the third quarter and the bench maintained the advantage when called upon, as eight different players ended up on the score sheet.

“I want to continue to do that (use depth) because I know not all the teams we are playing can. So I want to be able to use the fact we have a deep bench, that we can run the floor all four quarters because we have the players to do that," Hill said. "And I think it gives them confidence to know that I have confidence in them to rotate them in, every quarter, every other quarter or maybe at the end of the game … so this was a great team win for us, especially at the beginning of district, setting a precedence that we 12 players and they are all a part of this.”

Warren finished with 11 points and seven rebounds, while Rodriguez added eight points and eight boards for the Eagles, who have seven days until their next game at home against North Garland, after which they will then head into the Christmas break.

For continued coverage on the local sports scene, follow Devin Hasson on Twitter: @DevinHasson

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