FCA ALL-STAR BASKETBALL: North girls notch first win over South, 63-44

Mike Lee / Special to the Bulletin
North post Sierra Allen (left), from Highland, the game’s MVP, shoots over the South’s Punkin Mack, from Abilene Wylie, during the North’s 63-44 victory in the FCA All-Star Festival girls basketball game Thursday night at the Brownwood Coliseum.

The impressive second-half turnaround by the North girls was simply explained by the victim of the rally.

“They pounded the ball to their inside players,” South coach David Tandy of Ozona said after the North rallied from a five-point halftime deficit and beat the South, 63-44, in Thursday night’s Big Country FCA All-Star Festival Girls Basketball Game at the Brownwood Coliseum.

“They threw it inside to their big girls, and we had a hard time stopping them. They took advantage of their size,” Tandy said.

Sierra Allen, a 6-foot-1 post from Class 1A Highland, was named the game’s Most Valuable Player after scoring 14 of her game-high 17 points during the North’s dominating second half. Adding to the North’s inside advantage, 6-foot post Mackenzie Kimball of Colorado City scored nine points on a perfect shooting night — 2-of-2 from the field and 5-of-5 from the free-throw line. Kimball also grabbed a game-best seven rebounds.

“The first half was frustrating because I got in foul trouble,” said Allen, who scored three points while playing only six minutes in the opening 20 minutes after drawing three quick fouls. “I came back for the second half, and I just wanted to enjoy the game and have fun with the girls.

“We came out slow and uptight for the start of the game. We all needed to just calm down, relax and enjoy the game,” said Allen, the Abilene Christian-bound player who led Highland to the Class 1A Division II state semifinals earlier this year.

Thursday was Allen’s second of four all-star games this summer. She still has the Six-Man Coaches Association and the Texas Girls Coaches Association all-star games to play.

Guard Punkin Mack of Abilene Wylie led the South with 16 points and four rebounds, but even she couldn’t stop the North’s second-half surge.

Trailing 26-21 after the first half, the North scored the first 13 points of the second to take a 34-26 lead and command of the game. Allen scored back-to-back inside baskets during the run, and Kimball added a traditional three-point play with an inside bucket and a free throw.

North guard Morgan Rodgers of Hamlin finished the 13-0 run with a free throw. The 5-7 Rodgers enjoyed an all-around strong game, finishing with eight points, six rebounds and four steals.

“We started doing the little things in the second half — like blocking out and rebounding,” Rodgers said. “We let them (South) have way too many second-chance shots in the first half.

“The other thing we did was start going inside. Sierra is a great player. She was able to get into a rhythm in the second half.”

Guard Dally Friedrich of Stephenville made two free throws to complete a bigger 27-6 run by the North to open the second half.

The South missed its first five shots from the field and committed four turnovers to start the second half. The South didn’t score until Mack’s inside bucket 5:50 into the second half, and they scored only two more points over the next six minutes.

“They (South) did a great job of coming right at us on defense in the first half, and that took away our momentum early,” North coach Kristi Jo Sullivan said. “We relaxed and adjusted in the second half. Sierra is a good player, but we had 11 good players out there tonight. It was a blessing to coach in this game.”

Guard Sham Hunter from Abilene High added eight points for the North.

Guards Bree Torres of San Angelo Central and M’Lee Graham of Jim Ned added eight points each for the South, which was outscored 42-18 in the second half.

The South led 26-21 at the half as Alexus Garcia of Wall scored her first points of the night on a 3-pointer that broke a 21-21 tie with 48 seconds left before halftime. Garcia missed on another 3-pointer seconds later, but Mack’s put-back made it 26-21 with 28 seconds left before the break.

The North, which trailed most of the first half, had pulled even at 21-21 on two free throws by Kimball and a driving layup by Ashley Tucker of Clyde.

The South jumped to an early five-point lead after a 3-point shot by Graham and a traditional three-point play by Lexi Poindexter of Ozona.

The North took its first lead at 13-11 on two free throws by Kimball with 9:39 left in the half.

The South rallied for a 21-17 lead as Torres scored six points in a 3:40 span, including a pair of running layups after driving the lane.