BELLS — For the first eight minutes the Lady Panthers controlled play at both ends of the floor. They led by 19 points as they forced 11 turnovers and Farmersville missed its first eight shots.
And Bells nearly pitched a shutout in that first quarter, coming up just six seconds short. It was more than enough to pick up the victory as the Lady Panthers defeated Farmersville, 50-25, in non-district action.
“We rely on our pressure,” Bells head coach Chris Arledge said. “We came out ready to play. We were pleased with our effort and energy level.”
Gabby Smith had 21 points, seven rebounds and five steals, Haley Arledge totaled 12 points, six rebounds and three steals, Mia Moore scored seven points, Cheznie Hale chipped in five points, three steals and two assists and Jaiden Tocquigny grabbed seven rebounds for Bells (7-2), which plays at Paris Chisum on Tuesday night.
Rylee Ortega converted a three-point play for Farmersville (2-3) as the first quarter was coming to a close and the Lady Farmers were on the board but trailed 19-3.
Smith had scored the first seven points for Bells, opening the game with a three-pointer followed by a pair of lay-ups and she added two more three-pointers around a basket from Arledge on the way to a 19-0 advantage.
Farmersville didn’t fare much better in the second quarter, making just one basket in the first six minutes of the frame. But the Lady Panthers weren’t much sharper following their blazing start.
After four quick points stretched the lead to 20, Bells made just two shots the rest of the half and was up 27-9 at the break. Smith had 15 points to lead the way at that juncture.
“I think mentally we let up,” Arledge said. “We can’t let the scoreboard dictate how we play.”
Farmersville scored more points in the third quarter than it did in the first half. Bells was able to match that output and pushed its lead back to 20 points at 38-18.
When it came to the fourth quarter, Moore had five points in the middle of the frame, including a three-pointer, and Smith’s steal and lay-in with 4:18 left was the final scoring of the contest as Bells was content to run out the clock with a couple of possessions as it doubled up Farmersville on the scoreboard.
The Lady Panthers lost just one player to graduation from last year’s team — second-team all-district pick Alexis Grove — and a fast start was buoyed by the familiarity. The only losses in the early going have been against Dodd City and Howe, which are ranked in their respective classifications.
“That’s what was easier this year,” Arledge said. “They get out of volleyball after making the playoffs and they know what to do right away.”
Bells has three more non-district games and the Edgewood Tournament to prepare for the rigors of District 10-3A play, which starts right before Christmas, as the Lady Panthers go for a seventh straight playoff appearance.
“They really buy into our defensive philosophy, no matter how our offense is flowing,” Arledge said. “We’ve got a long ways to go. We’ve got to get a lot accomplished in three weeks.”