It was a match-up on paper that predicted the future — the team giving up the fewest points per game in district play against the one scoring the fewest during that span.
The Lady Yellow Jackets are charging towards a fourth straight playoff berth, which would be unprecedented in program history, due to their ability to grind opposing offenses to a halt.
“I talk to them about taking a lot of pride in how we're the best statistical defense in the district,” DHS head coach Rod Been said. “Because of our depth, I didn't think we could be a pressing team. We have to understand how to guard the basketball. Go out and play solid on the defensive end.”
Denison is three possessions away from being undefeated in 10-5A action and no foe has found a way to crack 45 points against them.
Sherman was able to stay close for a quarter but the Lady Bearcats were just like everyone else in being unable to solve the Lady Jackets' defensive puzzle and Denison showed it can pack some punch on offense as well in a 65-24 win in District 10-5A action at Denison.
Jade Fry finished with 16 points, five assists, five steals and four rebounds, Taryn Gaines had 14 points and 16 rebounds, Jada Mathews hit five three-pointers for 15 points, Ta'Kiya Riddick scored 12 points and Maliyah Butler handed out nine assists for Denison (14-14, 3-2), which moved into a third-place tie with Lovejoy and will host district co-leader McKinney North, whose only loss is against the Lady Jackets, to open the second half of district play on Tuesday night.
“It's certainly favorable to be one of the top two seeds. We know from last year it was important to be the one seed,” Been said. “We protect our home court and we'll be in a spot to challenge for one of those top spots when all is said and done.”
Jadyne Gatewood scored 10 points, Abby Khader chipped in five points and J'Brya Forman added four points for Sherman (9-18, 0-5), which starts the second half trying to end a 15-game district losing streak dating back to 2018 with a trip to Princeton.
“How much dedication do you have to your teammates? What are you doing extra for your teammates?” Sherman head coach David Upton asked. “That's what they've got to buy into. Because shots aren't falling. We can't score the daggum ball.”
The Lady Jackets have won eight straight in the rivalry and the last five meetings have been by an average of almost 35 points.
It was the fourth time in the past seven outings Sherman did not score at least 25 points but after the opening frame the Lady Bearcats were down just eight points.
The teams traded threes to open the game — Mathews connected and then Jastic Eleby answered — before Denison went on an 11-0 run. Gaines bookended the burst with baskets and Riddick hit a three in the middle of it.
Khader scored with just over a minute left and it was a 14-5 margin going to the second quarter and that's when Denison asserted its control.
Fry scored twice in the first minute before Mathews connected from deep. Gatewood drove to the hoop for the only Sherman bucket of the quarter with five minutes to go — a free throw by Andre'sha Luper a minute later was the only other point by the Lady Cats until the break.
A 10-1 run by the Lady Jackets gave them a 31-8 advantage at the intermission and they continued to add to it in the second half.
Denison did its work defensively not by forcing turnovers — the teams each finished with 14 — but limiting any second-change opportunities and not allowing many good looks on the first ones.
Sherman made just 25.6 percent of its shots (10-of-39) and 2-of-10 three-pointers while Denison cleaned up on the glass with a 31-10 rebounding margin. Meanwhile, Denison made 27 shots and had assists on 22 of them.
“Everybody knows what's going to happen with us offensively,” Been said. “If our guards hit shots we're going to be a tough team to beat, especially on the road.”
The Lady Jackets started the third quarter on a 6-0 spurt before Mathews got hot from deep. She had threes on back-to-back possessions and then following Gatewood's second basket of the frame, which accounted for the only Sherman field goals in the quarter, she hit her fifth and final one for a 48-13 lead.
Riddick's three-pointer in the closing seconds gave Denison a 52-13 margin heading to the fourth quarter and she added another there for the Lady Jackets' ninth three of the game.
“We wanted to be there on the catch,” Upton said. “When going up against (Gaines) and (Fry) down in the paint and force them to pass it out, be there on the catch. They had some open looks because we weren't there in time.”
Sherman scored 11 points in the fourth and the largest lead for Denison hit 45 and came on a drive by Camryn Nixon with just over two and a half minutes to play.