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Big Sandy coach Ryan Alec goes over strategy with the team in the fourth quarter.Big Sandy coach Ryan Alec goes over strategy with the team in the fourth quarter.

By Brian Besch
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The Big Sandy girls are bi-district hoops champions after a 57-45 victory over Iola Tuesday night at Conroe High School.

The Lady Cats took a 10-point lead in the first quarter, led by the shooting of Faith Geller and Yaheira Battise. The senior Geller collected 11 points in the period, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer at the top of the key. Battise had eight, going 4-for-4 at the line.

Iola did a better job of rebounding in the second quarter, cutting into the Lady Cat advantage. However, a few late buckets kept the difference at seven going into the break, 29-22.

“Any win at this point of the season makes us happy. The main thing is just to survive and advance,” Big Sandy coach Ryan Alec said. “I thought we played well in spurts. We got off to a good start and knocked down some shots. We kind of went cold in the second quarter and I thought there were times defensively when we could have been better. We game planned into this trying to shade everything and move them more to the left side. From the scouting report we got and the film that we watched, they are right-hand dominant. We didn’t do that as well as I would like throughout the course of the game. We talked about rebounding, which is key against them, because they crashed the board so hard. We managed as well as we could. Offensively, we moved the ball well, but I don’t think we were looking to score at times on a lot of pick-and-roll looks. I thought those were open quite a bit and we missed those.”

Leading by as much as 15 in the third quarter, the ‘Cats got buckets from five different players.

Iola worked the boards to get back down to a five-point difference with just 3:41 in the game. They held Big Sandy without a field goal in the fourth quarter, but the ‘Cats made 12-of-17 at the free-throw line to clinch it.

“We made some adjustments in the second half and the very first time we executed our offense we had a layup. Execution is big at this point in the season. You have to be able to run your offense.”

Geller led the Lady Cats with 18 points, and Battise and Savanna Poncho had 14 each. Iola spread their scoring more, with four girls totaling eight points each.

Big Sandy has turned things around since the midway point in district play. A fringe playoff team after the first round of district, the Lady Cats defeated a few opponents they fell short against the first time. Alec believes the defense has been the key.

“Evadale in West Hardin both beat us in the first round, and we made some adjustments in the second round,” he said. “We thought that we had a chance to go undefeated in the second round, but our defense had to be better. We made some changes defensively and we went with a defensive lineup. I thought that picked us up quite a bit. I thought we played tremendous defense down the stretch. We were hoping that would transfer into the playoffs.”

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