Pottsboro shuts down Prairiland for bi-district win

Jason Della Rosa
Herald Democrat
Pottsboro's Autumn Graley, who led the Lady Cardinals with 15 points, was also part of a stout defensive effort in a bi-district win over Prairiland at Paris.

PARIS — From the first game of the season, the Pottsboro Lady Cardinals have been stellar at stopping opponents from scoring.

It carried them to another 20-win season and another playoff appearance. And when there are scoring slumps or foul trouble, it can carry you a long way.

“We’re always trying to play great defense and on offense, we’re not telling them don’t shoot when they have shots,” Pottsboro head coach Aaron Bates said.

The Lady Cardinals held yet another opponent under 40 points and bombed away from the outside for a 61-36 victory over Prairiland in a Class 3A Region II bi-district contest at Paris.

Pottsboro (21-5), which has made the second round for the seventh straight season, will face either Ponder or Dallas Madison in the area round next week.

Autumn Graley had 15 points, four rebounds, three assists and three steals, Brayli Simpson hit four three-pointers for 13 points and Hadley Williams totaled 13 points, four rebounds and three blocks for the Lady Cardinals, who held an opponent under 40 points for the 23rd time in 26 contests.

Hannah Murdock had 10 points and eight rebounds while T.J. Folse added eight points and eight rebounds and Abi Farmer also scored eight points for Prairiland (15-10), which was a region quarterfinalist last season.

Both sides had to navigate foul trouble — the Lady Patriots saw Ali Sessums and Malorie Sneed foul out while Folse ended with four. Graley and Williams avoided being disqualified, finishing with four fouls, while Hannah Fellinger, who totaled four points, six rebounds, four assists and four steals with both of her baskets coming in the third quarter, sat for a chunk of the first half with two quick fouls.

“That’s a lot of playoff experience with those three. If I tell them not to foul, I trust they’re not going to foul,” Bates said. “It’s big when those three can get in foul trouble and we still play well.”

Any chance for a Prairiland comeback ended when Pottsboro closed the game on a 13-2 run that turned a 14-point lead in the middle of the frame into the final margin. Ali Malone connected from deep and Simpson did twice.

Malone also had a three-point play as the Lady Cards were slowly widening the gap to begin the fourth.

Prairiland, which finished with 23 turnovers, scored just two points in the first three-and-half minutes while Pottsboro was inching towards a 20-point advantage.

After Prairiland opened the third quarter with free throws by Sessums to pull within single digits, Pottsboro put together a 9-0 burst kicked off by a Williams three and then back-to-back swipe-and-scores from Fellinger and Williams before Jesi Stickley hit a jumper.

“When there was a certain group on the floor we felt we could have success — whether it was their group or ours,” Bates said.

The lead was out to 17 just two minutes into the second half but Prairiland immediately responded with a 9-0 run capped by a Farmer three to get the margin back down to eight with 3:46 left in the quarter.

It was the last time Pottsboro’s lead would be under single digits. Fellinger scored and then Graley converted a three-point play as the Lady Cardinals carried a 38-27 advantage into the final eight minutes.

Both teams struggled offensively in the second quarter. Graley’s layin with 5:22 left in the first half was the only basket by the Lady Cards in the second — the other four points came at the line.

Pottsboro was still keeping the clamps on Prairiland. The Lady Patriots made only two shots in the quarter and had just a single point in the first four minutes of the frame. But Farmer hit a three from the right wing to get the deficit to 10 points heading into the break.

Prairiland’s only lead came on Folse’s layup in the opening minute. Emma Powlison followed with a three-pointer and the Lady Cardinals were up 7-2 by the middle of the first on consecutive steals and scores from Williams and Malone.

The Lady Patriots trimmed the deficit to one but then hit just one shot during the final 4:31 in the quarter. Pottsboro closed on a 10-2 run with four Graley free throws being bookended by three-pointers from Simpson, the latter coming with nine seconds on the clock to give the Lady Cardinals a 17-8 advantage.

“They came out in a triangle-and-two. I called a quick timeout and told them, “they think (Fellinger and Williams) are the only two that can score. They started hitting and they had to honor their shots.”

Bi-district

Class 3A Region II

Pottsboro                        61

Prairiland                        36