It is a good place the Denison Lady Yellow Jackets find themselves these days. They will be entering the playoffs for the fourth straight season, a first for the program, and they will be doing it on the strength of four straight victories thanks to a nearly flawless second half of district play.
The latest of those wins showed a continued upper hand in their rivalry against the Sherman Lady Bearcats as the inside-outside combination of senior Taryn Gaines and sophomore Jade Fry proved too tough to slow down, let alone stop, as Denison defeated Sherman, 78-35, to close out District 10-5A action at Bearcat Gymnasium.
“They just didn’t match-up well with us. If Jade can shoot the ball that well and get confidence from the outside, with Taryn as talented as she is down low, it’s a nice 1-2 combination,” Denison head coach Rod Been said. “And if we can get some of our role players to knock down some outside shots, it makes things so much easier for them.”
Fry finished with 30 points, four steals and four rebounds, Gaines added 25 points, 15 rebounds — including the 1,000th of her career — and four blocks, Maliyah Butler totaled seven points and 13 assists and Ta’Kiyah Riddick and Jada Mathews each chipped in six points for Denison (18-15, 7-3), which finished third in the standings but just a game behind Wylie East and McKinney North in first place.
“For us to go 4-1 this half and win four in a row, I like our chances going into the playoffs,” Been said. “When teams look at our record, I don’t think they’ll see what we’ve done, beating a McKinney North, a Wylie East here lately.”
The Lady Yellow Jackets will face Frisco Memorial in a Class 5A Region II bi-district game next week with the date and location to be determined.
Jastic Eleby hit three three-pointers for nine points, Abby Khader finished with eight points and six rebounds, Ally Baker chipped in six points and Jadyne Gatewood grabbed 11 rebounds for Sherman (9-23, 0-10), which went winless in district play for the second year in a row and has lost 21 straight district contests — and 29 of the past 30 — dating back to 2018.
The Lady Bearcats go into the off-season, and into a new district thanks to the latest realignment, losing just a pair of seniors — Gatewood and Kelbie Black — and awaiting the return of freshman Destiny Briscoe, who was leading the team in scoring before a knee injury sidelined her just weeks into the season.
Denison picked up its ninth straight victory in the rivalry and the win had a similar feel to many of the most recent match-ups, including the 64-24 victory from earlier this season.
The Lady Jackets opened up a big lead early and extended it into half-time. The Lady Bearcats struggled to make shots and couldn’t keep pace, especially against a team that has been the best defensively during 10-5A play.
“They didn’t hit any shots early and that was big because they never got their confidence going, let their fans and their side of the gym get excited,” Been said. “We shot the ball really well. That calmed my nerves a bit.”
Sherman’s only points of the first quarter came on Khader’s jumper with 5:55 on the clock. At that point it merely cut Denison’s lead in half but the Lady Jackets scored the final 15 points of the frame and led 19-2.
Gaines did most of the heavy lifting, finishing with 10 points in the quarter and her first rebound of the game midway through the stanza allowed her to reach the four-digit milestone just a few games after she entered the 1,000-point club as well. She enters another exclusive club as well, winning every matchup against Sherman in her four-year career as a starter.
The Lady Bearcats’ drought carried over to the second quarter and Denison ended up producing 22 straight points before Baker’s bucket ended the run. Eleby hit a three-pointer and Gatewood produced four straight points late in the half but the Lady Jackets had too much firepower.
Mathews and Fry each made a pair of threes in the quarter with the last giving Denison a 37-7 advantage late in the second. Gaines’ layup with 11 seconds remaining put the Lady Jackets up 41-11 at the break.
Sherman’s best offensive quarter was in the third when it produced 15 points — Eleby connected on a couple of threes and Khader chipped in two baskets — but by the time it ended Denison had still increased its lead to 61-26.
The Lady Jackets made three more threes, part of nine total on the night, and Riddick put the exclamation point on it with her two buckets from long distance in the fourth.
Denison’s largest lead hit 45 points in the closing seconds.