The first round of a hotly-contested District 19-6A girls basketball season came to an inauspicious close Friday, as Katy conquered Morton Ranch, 55-37, in a matchup of two undefeated behemoths.
The No. 13 state-ranked Tigers (20-3) take a 6-0 record into the start of the second round of district play on Tuesday. It’s the first time since 1998, when head coach Shanna Marhofer was a standout senior player, that the Tigers have been undefeated this deep into a district season.
“The last two games, we’ve really come together and are playing for one another,” Marhofer said. “We’re really focusing on team above self. Everybody is contributing and doing their part. We’ve gotten the results we’ve wanted.”
But this game, one that was well-hyped and featured a loud, boisterous crowd hungry for a great basketball game, was a letdown early when Mavericks junior post Madyson Bailey suffered a right leg injury 25 seconds into the first quarter.
Bailey, an early candidate for district MVP and nightly double-double threat, hit a short lay-in before collapsing to the floor. She walked off on her own power before trainers examined her knee on the bench. Bailey attempted a gutsy return to the court at the start of the second quarter with a heavy black wrap around her knee, but lasted just one possession before the knee failed her again and she left the game for good.
Bailey spent the rest of the evening cheering on her teammates from the bench, with the wrap off and her leg extended outward.
Without Bailey, the Mavericks, already undersized at the post position, were simply no match for Katy’s 6-foot-2 junior Rachel Williams, who dominated with a game-high 17 points, 16 rebounds and four blocks.
“It’s a big difference without Madyson,” Williams said. “(Senior) Cassidy (Howard) and I were talking after we were first subbed out, saying how it would be a much different game had she been in. If she is better by the time we play again (on February 5), we know we’re going to really have to play even harder.”
Without Bailey, Morton Ranch (19-6, 5-1 19-6A) was unable to generate consistent offense. The Mavericks only scored 10 or more points in one quarter, the fourth, and turned the ball over 12 times.
Only one Maverick scored in double-figures. D’Andrea Hunter had 11 points.
Katy, meanwhile, produced an impressive display of what’s ignited a 10-game winning streak: the evolution of Williams, who credits a better attitude and conditioning for her play this season, and the athletic versatility of junior Allana Thompson (14 points, seven rebounds and five assists) and senior Savannah May (10 points, eight rebounds).
“We came in confident,” Thompson said. “We knew it’d be a tough game, but right now we just have a lot of chemistry and a lot of talent that’s playing together. There’s just a lot of positives right now.”
May and Thompson have been stalwarts for the Tigers a few years now. It’s the emergence of Williams that has been a particular boon.
Williams said she is more patient when catching the ball and doesn’t get frustrated as easily. She’s also improved in making herself a presence in the paint by securing her position early and calling for the ball with high hands.
“She’s really stepped up, gaining a lot of confidence that has allowed her to develop into the player we’ve needed the last few years,” Marhofer said. “I’m super proud of the way she works. She’s very serious, very focused. She wants to do her job, and she does it well.”