ROWLETT GIRLS BASKETBALL RYLLIE BOOKER

Ryllie Booker was part of a balanced scoring effort as Rowlett posted a 69-9 victory over South Garland on Tuesday.

Rowlett had reasons to be looking past Tuesday’s meeting with South Garland.

The biggest battles for the Eagles lay ahead during the next two weeks, as they look to move up the playoff pecking order.

And they were facing a Colonel team that has not only struggled in recent years, but has also been decimated by injuries this season.

Rowlett showed from the start where its focus was, opening the game on a 30-3 run as they went on to a 69-9 victory on its home court.

The Eagles improve to 7-3 in 10-6A and move into sole possession of third place.

It was clear just a few minutes in that the final outcome would not be in doubt.

Though South Garland tied it in the opening seconds on a putback by Antoniya Baker, Rowlett reeled off the next 20 points.

It was the usual suspects early on, as Taiyana Pitts converted a layup, Nevaeh Zavala hit a runner, Madilyn Rodriguez and Ryllie Booker knocked down 3-pointers and Reagan Warren converted a steal into a layup to make it 16-2.

The Eagles called in the second string and they did not skip a beat, as Kamiya Carter, Kendall Miles, Hannah Rumore and Jordan Myers all tallied points to build a 30-3 lead.

“Because we are in the second round of district, everybody has film and everybody has played everybody, so we now have to get into the habit of looking at the second, third, fourth options,” Rowlett head coach Alexis Hill said. “Those have been in place since the beginning of the season, but when you play teams that don’t know you, those first options are always first, so now we’re getting into ‘same offense, but what else is open and what else is available’ and that was our focus tonight and they did a really good job.”

Zavala and Warren combined for 10 of the 12 points in the second quarter as they took a 42-7 lead into halftime.

Pitts started the second half with back-to-back layups and Myers scored inside to cap a 17-0 run to make it 59-7 and Booker put the finishing touches on the win with a 3-pointer.

Rowlett had 10 different players record points. Zavala led the way with 16 points and six rebounds, Warren had 10 points and seven boards and Pitts was also in double figures with 10.

It was the latest in a string of tough nights for the Colonels, who only have seven players on their roster and that includes three freshmen and a sophomore.

But these might be experiences that help them in the future, as Baker, a freshman, had four points and pulled down 10 rebounds and another freshman, Alexis Smith, also had a basket.

Since dropping three of four, Rowlett has put together a three-game winning streak. Their last loss might have also been a turning point in the season.

Sachse has ruled this district for the last five years without a loss, but the Eagles gave them perhaps their toughest test during that stretch, pushing them to the limit before ultimately falling 46-42 back on Jan. 17.

“We came in that game very prepared and I felt like the girls executed the game plan really well. Again, going back into the scout film, you study just like a test and hope that you can perform when the test arrives and I thought we did a really good job,” Hill said. “A couple of missed baskets here, a couple of late foul calls, couple of missed free throws and that game could definitely have gone our way, but I was very proud of the kids for hanging in there, they never got frustrated, they never got frazzled. It was a great game for us, we needed a good game like that after losing to Wylie and Lakeview so I was really proud of them and I think really for the first time, they are looking forward to playing them (Sachse) again and that’s good to hear.”

Rowlett faces a tough road down the stretch, starting with Friday’s road game at Wylie. They also play at Lakeview next Friday before closing out the regular season with a home date against the rival Mustangs on Feb. 11.

But the Eagles are feeling good about how they are playing and view the stretch as an opportunity to prepare for what they will face once the playoffs roll around.

“I’m looking at just cleaning up the little things, not making silly mistakes like we did in the Wylie game, not getting off to a slow start like we did in the Lakeview game, really being able to perform similar to what we did in the Sachse game and that is go out and perform well all four quarters,” Hill said. “When you get to the end of the season is when things can get a little sloppy, people start making mistakes they haven’t been making all season, so I want to make sure that we are not one of those teams.”

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

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