By Mike Phillips
Corsicana Daily Sun
The boys basketball race in District 23-2A just got a little tighter. Marlin had just about everything going its way Friday in the Mildred gym and upset the Eagles 67-49 on a night when the Mildred kids couldn’t seem to get a break or a basket when they needed one. “That’s not the same team that has been playing the last 10 games,’’ said Mildred Coach Daniel Johnson, who had watched his team win nine of the last 10 and jump out to a 5-0 record in the district race. “We couldn’t beat anybody the way we played tonight. We’ve got to get better.’’ Mildred led early but 10 turnovers in the second quarter gave Marlin some room to work and the Bulldogs scored 25 points in eight minutes to take a 33-25 halftime lead. That’s all Marlin needed, because the Bulldogs spent most of the second half on the free throw line, where they built the lead and finally put the game away. When it was over, Marlin had shot 30 free throws. Mildred took 10. The 3-to-1 edge in free throws says a lot about the game, but Johnson left feeling frustrated because his kids didn’t play better. “They killed us on the glass, and we turned the ball over too many times,’’ he said. Mildred actually made more 3-pointers than free throws. In fact, the Eagles, who busted 11 3s, made more shots from beyond the arc than they took from the free throw line, where they went 6-for-10. Mike Muncy led Mildred with 12 points and Connor Hill and Jordan Harvel, who made three 3-pointers each, both scored nine points. Russell Holden finished with eight points and Hagen Williams scored five for the Eagles. Jase Butler (4) and Will Burnham (2) also scored in the loss. The upset means Mildred and Marlin are now both tied atop the District 23-2A race at 5-1 as the teams end the first half of the district season. Everyone has played everyone at least once and Blooming Grove, which beat Riesel Friday night, is right behind the two leaders at 4-2. It could be a real dogfight down the stretch for a handful of teams. Only the top four reach the postseason, and Buffalo, which is 4-2 and beat Marlin earlier, and Rice are also in the hunt. Mildred Lady Eagles 50, Marlin 31 Getting kids to play defense is one thing, getting them to like it? That’s a different story. But it’s slowly becoming not only the tale of Mildred’s season, but the trademark and identity of a Lady Eagles basketball team that just can’t stand to see the other team score. “We like playing defense,’’ said Shelby Adamson, who led Mildred Friday night with 18 points and 11 rebounds against Marlin’s 6-3 Tayla Taylor, who looked frustrated all night. “Defense is a big thing for us. We like to work hard and play good defense.’’ It has paid off. The Lady Eagles are now 6-1 and tied for first place in the District 23-2A race. “Our goal is to hold the other team to 35 points or less,’’ Mildred Coach Dale Clement said. “We’ve done that four times in our seven district games.’’ Adamson said the Mildred kids don’t mind the extra work on the defensive end of the court, and one reason is because the team is so close and unselfish. That’s all part of a formula that’s got Mildred soaring in the district race. “We have great chemistry,’’ Clement said of his kids. “I love this bunch of kids. This bunch of kids is the best I’ve had. They have been playing together for a long time. The seniors were playing on the varsity when they were freshmen. We don’t have any selfishness. They do the job.’’ Allison Hierholzer had a big night, scoring 13 points and point guard Maddie Moore, who runs the floor and sets the pace, dropped in nine points while Maddie Murrell scored five inside and Morgan McCreary added five from the outside and Callie Bland helped create turnovers and run the offense. It’s a balanced attack with a one-for-all attitude.“I think we’re playing better as a team this year,’’ Adamson said of Mildred’s success. “We don’t have any conflicts.’’ The kids not only share the ball and the limelight, but this team has a maturity coaches love, and understands the importance of finding and taking the good shot and not rushing the offense. They make the extra pass, wait for the opening on the court and play to their strengths. “We’re more patient with our shots this year,’’ Adamson said. “We wait for something to be open instead of forcing our shots. We’re taking fewer shots, but making more of them.’’ They have been patient enough to climb to the top of the district race and now they face the only team to beat them in 23-2A on Tuesday when they travel to Riesel, which edged Mildred by three points in the second game of the district season. Stay tuned ...