By Mike Phillips
Corsicana Daily Sun
It was a win, just one win.
But if felt like so much more, and the kids and coaches at Corsicana High wanted to grab it, embrace it and just hold it for a while.
That’s how sweet this one felt.
After all, Friday’s 59-48 District 16-4A opening night win over Nacogdoches was a long time coming.
“Forever. It’s been forever,’’ said Corsicana girls coach Art Prevost, who has turned the program around. “I don‘t know when the last time Corsicana started district out 1-0. It’s got to be in the early 1990s. It’s been forever.”
It wasn’t easy. The Lady Tigers started out slow and trailed by eight points in the first quarter before climbing back to trail 26-25 at halftime.
“We turned the ball over nine times in the first half, and they were playing a straight zone,’’ said Prevost who was upset with his team’s sluggish start. But he loved what he saw the last 12 minutes of the game.‘
It was still a two-point game midway in the third when the Lady Tigers, who were clinging to a 30-28 lead took over the game, ripping off a 12-4 run to end the third quarter to take a 42-32 lead into the fourth.
“I didn’t want to put too much pressure on them with goals when we went into this game, but we didn’t play well early. We were a little lax,” Prevost said. “But we really had a good second half. The kids really put it together. We were playing with energy. We were playing with excitement and we were executing. I’m proud of us as a group.’’
The Lady Tigers forced six turnovers in the final four minutes of the third and four more in the opening moments of the fourth, and just pulled away from Nacogdoches.
“We started recognizing where everybody was on the floor and we got our (fast break) going and started executing,’’ said Erica Melendez, who had a double-double, dropping in 20 points and grabbing 12 rebounds. “We just took over.”
When Melendez wasn’t making Nacogdoches pay inside sophomore Destini Lunsford was. She finished with 17 points and seven rebounds. Lunsford (9) and Melendez (5) scored Corsicana’s first 14 points of the fourth quarter as the Lady Tigers built a 56-41 lead.
“It’s exciting,’’ said Melendez, a senior who remembers last year’s start in the district race. Corsicana won just one district game least season.
“There are no words for how it feels to win the first district game,” Melendez said. “All I know is we one only one district game all of last year and we‘ve already got a win. It feels awesome.’’
The Lady Tigers are now 15-6 for the season.
“Our goal was to win 20 games and make the playoffs,’’ Prevost said. “We are two-thirds of the way there to 20. We made the plays down the stretch.
“I couldn’t be happier with the play of my point guard Alexis Baston,” he said. “She‘s really been a leader for us.’’
Baston finished with nine points and Shay Shay Taylor added a point from the guard spot. Kennady Betts scored seven points and had two rebounds before fouling out and Ariel Bartee scored three points. Briana Biltz scored two points and grabbed two rebounds.
It doesn’t get easier. Corsicana goes on the road Tuesday to face defending district champ Lindale.
But they can enjoy this one for a while -- it took a while to get here.