EARLY — The Bangs Lady Dragons solidified their hold on third place in the District 6-3A girls basketball standings and secured a postseason berth with a 41-27 road victory over the Early Lady Horns Friday night.
With three league games left for Bangs (14-17, 8-3), the Lady Dragons have four fewer losses than fifth-place Coleman and Comanche. The Lady Dragons are still two games behind second-place Eastland (20-10, 10-1) and two games ahead of fourth-place Hamilton (16-12, 6-5), which visits Bangs at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Early (10-20, 1-10) suffered its sixth consecutive district defeat since picking up an 81-75 overtime win over Dublin — where the Lady Horns are headed in their next action at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Hot shooting by the Lady Dragons in the first period — including a trio of three-pointers from Trenedi Deal — allowed Bangs to open a 16-2 advantage with with 2:32 left in the first period.
Deal produced 11 points in the opening quarter alone and led all scorers with 20 points while Kyra Smith contributed 15 points, Kayeah Hall finished with three, Maggie Morales added a bucket and Brooklann Mullins sank a free throw.
For Early, Dana Lykes led the way with eight points, Alexa Portillo followed with seven, Carrigan Norris chipped in five, Madison Torrez added four and Taylor Summers finished with two points.
Down 14 at one point in the initial stanza, the Lady Horns closed the gap to 16-8 by the end of the first period. Early continued to whittle away at Bangs' advantage in the second quarter as a three-pointer from Portillo, followed by a bucket from Norris, brought the Lady Horns within one possession, 18-15, with 4:04 left in the half.
Bangs bounced back with nine points in a row — four from Smith, a three-point play from Deal and Morales' bucket — to push the advantage back to double digits, 27-15, with 1:51 left in the half.
Norris responded with a couple of buckets, but Deal sank two free throws with 41 seconds left in the half, and Bangs carried a 29-19 lead into intermission.
The two teams combined for just seven points in the third period — four for Early and three for Bangs — as the Lady Dragons were in front 32-23 heading to the fourth quarter.
There, leading 34-25 at the 5:28 mark, Bangs tallied the next six points — four from Smith and two from Deal — as the lead maxed out at 15 points, 40-25, with 1:26 to go.