The McLennan Highlassies opened the 2017-18 season with an exhilarating 88-82 win over the Angelina Lady Roadrunners 88-82 at The Highlands.
The game was tight from start to finish with neither team gaining more than a six-point lead in the 40-minute contest.
The Highlassies jumped out to an early 4-0 lead on a rebound and put back by Anndrea Lloyd, followed by a steal and layup by Jaylonn Walker. Angelina responded with a put back by Natasha Mack and a 3-pointer from the wing by Charisma Shepherd to take the 5-4 lead with 6:35 to play in the first. A Velma Mitchell bucket less than 30 seconds later pulled McLennan within one. Then a pair of Mitchell free throws put the Highlassies on top 8-7 with 4:12 to go in the quarter. McLennan extended the lead to four on a KeeKee Nowlin bucket with two minutes on the clock. Back-to-back 3-pointers by Shepherd swung the momentum to Angelina and gave the Lady Roadrunners the 15-13 advantage. Angelina led 18-15 with 34.2 seconds on the clock. Highlassie Colandria Haynes drained an off-balance 3-pointer from well beyond the arc at the buzzer to tie the game at 18 going into the second quarter.
The two teams traded baskets and the lead in the second period. McLennan took its largest lead of the quarter at 32-29 on a Nadia Hayes jumper with 3:29 to go in the half. The Lady Roadrunners tied the game on another Shepherd 3-pointer with 3:09 to play. Angelina led 42-41 with 42 seconds to go in the half. A Walker layup with 28 seconds remaining gave McLennan the 43-42 advantage at intermission.
The third quarter took on a much slower pace. The Highlassies took a five-point lead on a steal and layup by Walker with 5:47 to play in the third, 53-48. Angelina rallied to tie the game at 55 with just under four minutes to go. The Lady Roadrunners outscored the Highlassies 11-6 down the stretch to take the 66-61 lead into the final period.
McLennan chipped away at the Angelina lead in the fourth and took the lead on a coast-to-coast layup by Walker with four minutes to go, 75-74. The teams continued to trade the lead for the next two and a half minutes with the Lady Roadrunners holding the 82-79 advantage with 1:30 to play. Walker tied the game on a 3-pointer with 59 seconds on the clock. A steal by Nowlin and a drive to the paint by Patrickia Daily put the Highlassies on top 84-82. Mitchell then went 4-4 from the line following the deliberate Angelina fouls to seal the win.
A handful of sophomores stepped up to lead the Highlassies. Mitchell led McLennan scorers with 20 points and Walker added 19. Haynes and Hayes scored 13 and 11, respectively. Angelina's Mack led all scorers with 30 points.
The Highlassies return to action Friday, facing Coastal Bend at 6 p.m. in game three of the McLennan Classic.
Angelina: Charisma Shepherd 3 0-0 13; Priscilla Murray 4 0-0 12; Natasha Mack 13 4-4 30; Angelica Darcus 2 2-2 6; Jayeida Neal 1 1-2 3; Mia Perkins 2 0-0 4; Mercy Blanco 1 0-0 2; Mia Williams 1 0-0 3; Ayesha Davis 1 0-0 2; Rexesha Hollis 3 0-0 7; Totals: 31 7-8 82.
McLennan: Patrickia Daily 3 1-2 8; Colandria Haynes 4 2-2 13; Velma Mitchell 6 6-8 20; KeeKee Nowlin 3 2-4 9; Jaylonn Walker 7 3-4 19; Nadia Hayes 4 3-4 11; Anndrea Lloyd 4 0-1 8; Totals: 31 17-25 88.
Fouled out: Angelina (Darcus), McLennan (Hayes); Halftime score: McLennan 43, Angelina 42; Record: McLennan 1-0.