The last time the rivals met, it was at Bearcat Gymnasium. Denison was headed to the postseason. Sherman was not. And at the end of the game, the Lady Bearcats — down by a point — had the chance to win the game with a final shot that ultimately rimmed out and the Lady Yellow Jackets survived by a 34-33 margin.
“I’m hoping we’re making shots and make it a tough game,” Sherman head coach David Upton said. “I’ve been honest with our kids. They know Denison is a bit better than us. Last year they were probably a little bit better than us. We got a look with five seconds left.”
The cliche of throwing records out windows in a match-up like this was never more apparent. This time Sherman will try to finish off that deciding play when the Lady Bearcats (7-17, 1-4) host Denison (22-4, 5-0) to close out the first half of District 5-5A action tonight at 6 p.m.
Denison has won five of the last six meetings and all but the first of them have been decided by single digits, including one in overtime. The Lady Jackets have no expectation this will be any different.
“We escaped with a win last time. They had a shot to beat to us,” Denison head coach Rod Been said. “I’ve been reminding them. We’re going over there not taking anything for granted.”
After opening district play with an overtime victory against Rider, Sherman went 2-2 in the McKinney North Tournament but has lost all four district contests by double-digits to drop into a tie with Rider in fifth place and two games back of Ryan and Braswell for the final playoff spot.
“I know it’s important for the girls to get the program back into the playoffs,” Upton said. “I knew we were young, rebuilding but these kids have a lot of heart. They’re going to fight, never quit.”
In a 52-39 loss against Wichita Falls on Tuesday, Jaylen Edmonson scored 13 points and Libby Ticknor added 11 points.
“Jaylen’s our point guard so the ball’s in her hands. Jaylen and Libby are our 1-2 punch,” Upton said. “If they’re making shots we can be competitive. We’re looking for other kids to fill roles.”
Denison has already won more games than last season, when it made the playoffs for the first time in 11 years and reached the second round. The Lady Yellow Jackets are the only unbeaten team standing in 5-5A and could clinch a playoff spot as early as next Friday.
The closest game for Denison in district play was on Tuesday, a 61-56 victory over defending 5-5A champ Denton Ryan. The Lady Jackets had an 18-point lead after three quarters before Ryan cut it to six in the closing minutes. Zya Nugent had 20 points and six rebounds, Taryn Gaines added 14 points, 11 rebounds and four steals, Zachareia Sommers chipped in 12 points, three rebounds and three assists, Ikia Lacy totaled eight points and seven rebounds and Olivia Marr finished with seven assists.
“Credit to Ryan for finishing well,” Been said. “Our last two quarters against Braswell and the first three against Ryan might have been our best of the season. The practices had been great.”
Nugent leads the team with 25.1 points, 4.5 steals and four assists and is second in rebounding at 7.2 per game. Lacy is averaging 9.2 points and 8.6 rebounds and both Sommers and Marr, who has played 10 straight games after breaking her wrist early in the season, are averaging 7.2 points per game.
“They’ve been locked in. Now we’re down to business,” Been said. “If we’re going to make a deep run, this is where it starts. We’re headed to peak at the right time.”