Gunter tops Howe in District 11-3A makeup game
GUNTER — Even though the Lady Tigers had started the second half of district play, they hadn’t seen everyone on the schedule yet.
And while the Howe Lady Bulldogs may be off to a slow start, they are the defending district champs who bring a size advantage in the paint when they take the floor.
“They’re a match-up problem for us. They really hurt us in a high-low offense with the two big girls they have,” Gunter head coach Katie Stinton said.
Adding to the worry were the fouls piling up before the fourth quarter arrived.
“Our foul situation changed our game plan a little bit. We had to change what we were doing with three girls with four fouls in the third quarter,” Stinton said. “The girls were able to do some things defensively we hadn’t practiced and we never do. I was proud of the way we got the win."
The Lady Tigers were still able to produce a strong defensive effort as Gunter beat Howe, 46-33, in a District 11-3A makeup contest.
Sarah Putnicki had 12 points, Alyssa Tarpley added 11 points, Blakely Esnard chipped in nine points and Taylor Boddie totaled seven points for Gunter (16-5, 8-0), which will clinch a playoff spot with its next win.
The Lady Tigers also have a two-game lead on Pottsboro and Whitewright for the district title with six games to play but only beat them bu a combined eight points.
“There’s teams besides those two that have played well against us. Howe gave us everything we wanted,” Stinton said. “We definitely don’t feel comfortable at all. Our goal was to win the district championship and try to go undefeated.”
Trinity Williams scored 13 points, Sierra Copeland added 12 points and Katie Grogan chipped in six points for Howe (4-7, 1-5), which is now two games behind fourth-place Bells with a makeup game against the Lady Panthers on Monday.
In between the Lady Bulldogs will have another makeup against Blue Ridge on Wednesday in addition to their regular games on Tuesday and Friday, meaning Howe will play six games in a nine-game span.
Gunter saw its lead dip to eight points with 4:49 remaining in the game on Kendall Griffin’s drive to the hoop. But the Lady Bulldogs wouldn’t get any closer.
Putnicki followed with a three-point play and Blakely Esnard added a layup.
A pair of turnovers led to baskets by Boddie and Tarpley, the latter giving the Lady Tigers a 16-point lead with a couple of minutes remaining.
The Lady Bulldogs put together their best quarter in the third but it was only good enough to get the deficit to 10 by the end of the eight-minute stretch.
Williams scored twice underneath to start the second half and make it a seven-point gap before a quick 6-0 burst from Gunter pushed the lead back to double digits in the middle of the frame.
Putnicki and Lindsay Esnard drilled three-pointers around baskets from Copeland, who scored eight points in the quarter, and the Lady Tigers were up 35-25 going into the fourth.
Gunter held a 23-12 half-time lead after both teams made just one shot apiece in the second quarter. Howe got a three-pointer from Williams to trim its deficit to seven with 3:48 to go in the half but managed just two free throws from Copeland the rest of the quarter.
The Lady Tigers’ lone bucket in that span came with 12 seconds remaining when Rhyan Pogue scored underneath. The other eight points came on free throws as Tarpley made 3-of-4 while Putnicki and Blakely Esnard connected on both of theirs.
Howe opened the game with the first five points but then had just one more basket in the first quarter on a Williams putback with 1:02 remaining.
It gave the Lady Bulldogs a 7-6 advantage before Gunter ended the frame with a flourish — Blakely Esnard hit a jumper, Tarpley followed with a three-pointer and then Boddie made a layup in the closing seconds for a 13-7 lead.