Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

December 2, 2013

GC Basketball: Lady Tigers blow out Waco University without Wilson

By Mike Phillips
Corsicana Daily Sun

Corsicana — Ariel Bartee had a few words for her teammates just before they walked on the court to face Waco University on Monday night.

Bartee figured the kids at Corsicana needed a lift, maybe a boost — maybe a little inspiration.

She gave them all of the above — and then some.

They were down, and it was hard on everyone to see Calae Wilson limping on one leg. Just eight games into this bright and promising season, the point guard who was ready to point this team to its best season ever, is out with a torn meniscus, and no one — not even Coach Art Prevost — is sure when Wilson will be back.

Yup, that Calea Wilson, the first girl in the history of Corsicana basketball to sign a Division I scholarship. She’s been out for the last two games.

But she was with them in spirit Monday — Bartee made sure of that .

That’s when Bartee took center stage.

Right there in the locker room.

“I talked to my team before the game,’’ Bartee said. “I told them no matter how hard it gets and no matter how hard the struggle gets that we have to keep pushing. We have to keep pushing forward. We’ve just got to keep pushing.’’

Then Bartee took the court and explained to Waco University just what she mean in her pregame speech.

Bartee hit her first four shots from the floor and ripped University all night, finishing with 25 points — the most she has scored in a game since her freshman year.

She took center stage, right there on the court, leading the Lady Tigers to a 65-35 romp over Waco University in the CHS  gym.

Bartee took over the game at times and came out firing. And when she wasn’t on fire, Destini Lunsford was.

Lunsford, a sophomore guard who plays like a senior with a lot of heart and hustle and a just as much savvy, scored 14 of her 16 points in the first half and sat out most of the fourth quarter after Corsicana had put the game away.

Lunsford scored the first five points of the game, hitting a 3 to get Corsicana going and then driving for a fastbreak basket to make it 5-0. Bartee jumped into the act and drove for an and-one play to make it 8-zip, and then busted a long 3 to give the Lady Tigers a 11-0 lead. Alexis Baston, who finished with nine points, hit another 3 (that’s right, three 3s in the first four minutes of the game) and Corsicana had a 14-0 lead.

The Corsicana kids were inspired.

“We were playing under adverse circumstances,’’ Prevost said afterward. “I’m just glad the way the kids regrouped and played while not having their point guard.’’

The Lady Tigers were coming off a tough four-point loss in Groesbeck, playing in their first game without Wilson, but Prevost was right — they regrouped and responded better than anyone could have imagined.

Corsicana swarmed University all night, forcing 31 turnovers, including 21 in the first half, to control the game from tip to buzzer.

“We guarded them,’’ said a proud Prevost. Our kids believe in what we have. I liked our effort from top to bottom. With that effort, I like Corsicana!’’

There was a lot to like.

Bartee led the way and hit University with some sharpshooting from the outside and some quick-hit drives that stung every time. Lunsford seemed to do a little of everything and finished the night making 5-of-of 7 shots and 4-out-of 5 free throws, She also grabbed six rebounds (remember, she’s a guard) and made three steals and was in traffic on three more.

University was led by Kayla Ewing, who made two 3s and finished with nine points, and Doniella McLennan (8) and Desiree Loyd (8).

 The Lady Tigers, who are hoping to put together the best season in 20 years (maybe the best ever at the school) are off to a 9-2 start, even without Wilson the last two games.

“We gotta keep pushing, got to keep going,’’ Prevost said, almost echoing Bartee’s words.

Kennady Betts had a strong night, dropping in seven points and grabbing seven rebounds, and stopping University’s tall front, which included 6-1 Justice McGowan, who scored just four points.

And Erica Melendez finished with six rebounds and four points despite being in foul trouble early while Briana Biltz came off the bench to grab four rebounds and drop in four points.

It was a night for everyone, even Wilson, who smiled on the bench with her right leg stretched out on a chair.

It started with words in a locker room and ended in smiles and a W — one that might as well have stood for Wilson.

“We’ve got a good team,’’ Prevost said. We’re hurting without her (Wilson). But the kids are playing hard for her.”