SPRING GARDEN – Spring Garden basketball coach Ricky Austin was blunt with senior center Lexy Adkison at halftime of the Lady Panthers’ game against Class 4A Cleburne County on Tuesday evening.
“All I really told her at halftime was you’re not playing good enough,” he said. “It’s the time of year where seniors have to step up. You’re not playing hard enough. You’re not playing well enough on the offensive end. You’ve got to flip that switch.”
And flip the switch she did.
Adkison scored 21 of her game-high 29 points in the second half, lifting the second-ranked Lady Panthers to an 82-57 victory. Adkison also added nine rebounds, two assists, two steals and a blocked shot in the win.
“We really weren’t getting her the ball in a good situation (in the first half). Once I called a couple of sets and got her where she needed the ball, she delivered. I thought she did a really good job of keeping the shot in her window where she could release it without getting it blocked. She drew a couple of fouls and had a couple of and-ones.
“It seemed like when Lexy scored, her defensive game and rebounding game went up. I thought she stepped it up real nice.”
Adkison wasn’t the only Lady Panther who stepped things up. Eighth grade point guard Ace Austin contributed 25 points, including three 3-pointers. She also had five boards, four steals and a pair of blocked shots.
Filling in for Neely Welsh (hamstring), eighth grade forward Maggie Jarrett posted a double-double, with 13 points, 10 boards and four steals. Junior guard Sarah Kate McKay managed to sink three treys and finished with nine points, three rebounds, an assist and a block. Junior guard Abbey Steward sank a pair of treys and finished with six points.
Spring Garden (25-2) led 14-11 at the end of the first quarter and 32-30 at halftime. Coach Austin said he didn’t have to say too much to his girls in the locker room.
“They weren’t satisfied at halftime either,” he said. “As I got in the locker room, they were talking each other up. That’s special, not sitting there and waiting for the coach to do it all the time. As late in the year as it is, and as many veterans as we’ve got, I really like the energy that was created in the locker room at halftime.
“I thought the second half was a really good turnaround from what we didn’t play in the first half. I give our girls a lot of credit.”
Spring Garden built a 59-45 lead at the end of the third quarter and went on a 23-12 run in the fourth for the final.
Brooklyn McDaniel led Cleburne County with 21 points. Haley Price posted five 3-pointers and had 20 points. Faith Brown finished with 12 points.
Spring Garden 71, Cleburne County 41
SPRING GARDEN – Spring Garden senior guard Ryley Kirk connected on five 3-pointers and finished with 21 points to lead Class 2A, No. 8 Spring Garden to a 71-41 basketball win over visiting Cleburne County on Monday.
Four of Kirk’s treys came in the third quarter. He also had three rebounds, three steals, two assists and a blocked shot for the Panthers (17-7).
“He’s been stressing over missing shots,” Spring Garden coach Ricky Austin said. “I told him the other night ‘You keep working. You keep shooting. I’ll worry about the misses.’ He was in the gym at 8:30 Saturday morning, 8:30 Sunday morning, not to mention the other things we did. He does all that stuff, and that’s not just within the past week. He’s done that his whole career. He got a little hot tonight, and I’m glad to see him do that.”
While Kirk had the hot hand in the third quarter, Panther sophomore forward Cam Welsh helped Spring Garden get off to a good start in the first. Welsh scored six of his 10 points in the opening quarter, which Spring Garden led 24-14.
“Cam got off to an early offensive start, and I thought Cooper (Austin) and Weston (Kirk) controlled things early, as far as the way we needed to flow,” Coach Austin said. “I thought everybody come in and gave us a spark. I’m pleased at where we are.”
By halftime, the Panthers pulled ahead 44-22. Behind Kirk’s 12-point third quarter, Spring Garden built a 64-36 edge.
Cooper Austin and Weston Kirk both contributed 12 points for the Panthers. Weston Kirk also had five boards, five assists, a steal and a blocked shot. The younger Austin added four boards, three assists and a steal.
Luke Welsh and Andrew Floyd finished with seven and five points respectively.
Rico Jordan and Kyle Downey both had nine points to lead Cleburne County. Trey Brown tossed in eight points. Ben Casey collected seven points and Dearion Prothro finished with six points.
Spring Garden travels to Plainview on Tuesday.