It was exactly the type of outing the Denison Lady Yellow Jackets wanted to see going into the postseason, and it had nothing to do with the bevy of points they put up.
With a suffocating effort on the defensive end, Denison rolled to 78-19 victory against rival Sherman to close out District 10-5A action at Denison on Tuesday night.
The game was called with 46 seconds left as the result of a fight near the top of the key as Denison brought the ball down to run out the clock. It is the seventh straight victory in the rivalry for the Lady Yellow Jackets and the frustration boiled over.
Zya Nugent scored 35 points, including the 2,800th of her career, to go with nine rebounds and six steals, Ikia Lacy finished with 13 points and 12 rebounds, Taryn Gaines added 10 points and Zachareia Sommers chipped in eight points for Denison (21-11, 8-2), which opens the playoffs against Frisco Centennial, the third-place finisher in District 9-5A, at 7 p.m. on Monday at Anna.
Libby Ticknor scored seven points and Kursten Alexander chipped in six points for Sherman (7-25, 0-10), which made just five baskets — including a stretch where the Lady Bearcats went 22 minutes from the first quarter to late in the fourth with just one basket.
Sherman’s point total by quarter was six, five, three and five.
A 29-point half-time lead widened as the Lady Jackets started the third with eight straight points. Jadyne Gatewood’s putback at the 4:03 mark was the first basket by the Sherman in 13 minutes and a free throw by Olivia Bindel was the only other scoring for the Lady Bearcats the rest of the quarter.
Denison’s advantage was 59-14 going into the fourth quarter and the gap was 62 points as the Lady Jackets scored the first 17 points before Abby Khader’s putback with 2:24 remaining. Alexander made a three from the right side before the game was called.
A minute later the Lady Jackets started subbing out their four seniors — Nugent, Sommers, Lacy and Zaycia Guthrie — with Nugent, who had a career-high 43 points in the first meeting against the Lady Bearcats, the last to leave the floor and enter the playoffs with her career point total at 2,817.
It was a clinic at both ends of the floor as Denison built a 30-point lead near the end of the second quarter.
Sherman managed just five points in the span, all of them on free throws. Ticknor opened the frame with a pair at the line before Denison went on a 21-0 run over the next five minutes.
Nugent had her fingerprints all over the surge with four baskets, a pair of free throws and a three-quarters court assist to Gaines underneath. Maliyah Butler capped it with a three-pointer to give the Lady Jackets a 35-8 advantage with 1:23 remaining in the half.
Butler’s steal and lay-in moments later pushed the margin to 30.
Nugent scored 15 points in the first half while Lacy and Gaines each had eight apiece as Denison controlled the paint.
Bindel hit a free throw and Ticknor added two more from the line a second before the break to get the Lady Bearcats into double digits. Ticknor had seven points at half-time to pace Sherman.
The Lady Jackets opened the game by scoring the first nine points which were split between Lacy and Nugent.
That combined scored all but two of Denison’s points in the quarter. Gaines had a putback in the middle of the frame but otherwise the senior duo each had a three-pointer as part of the initial push.
Sherman finished the quarter by making just two baskets – three-pointers from the right wing by Ticknor at the 4:31 mark and then from Alexander with 40 seconds remaining in the frame to make it 14-6.