Priddy girls basketball team battles adversity for No. 5 state ranking

Mike Lee
Special to the Bulletin
Priddy's Rianne Hurst leads the Lady Pirates in scoring and rebounding during the 2020-21 basketball season.

The Class 1A Priddy Lady Pirates began this basketball season with 13 players and plenty of depth. But as New Year’s Day approached, injuries and illness had reduced the roster to seven players -– even six for a couple of games.

The injury list included sophomore forward Emily Andrade, the 2020-2021 District 18-1A Newcomer of the Year, to a season-ending ACL knee injury. Also missing multiple games were junior guard Sydney Partin, the Lady Pirates’ best 3-point shooter, and sophomore Lindsey Grelle, the team’s starting point guard.

Only two players – senior cousins Rianne Hurst and Alyssa Hurst -– have played in every game for the Lady Pirates this season.

Even fifth-year Priddy coach Jimmie Cain missed a game and multiple practices with COVID.

But Cain woke up one day and his Lady Pirates were ranked No. 5 in the state by both the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches and the Texas Girls Coaches Association. Or so it seemed.

“We were ranked down there at about No. 15 or 16,” Cain said. “Then all of a sudden, we were No. 10. Then all of a sudden, we were No. 5 in both polls.

“It’s kind of neat being ranked, but it doesn’t mean anything. It’s all about what you do in the playoffs.”

The Lady Pirates persevered through the temporary and permanent personnel losses, put together a couple of nine-game win streaks, and stand 22-4 overall and 9-0 in District 18-1A through this week’s games. The Priddy girls beat Zephyr 61-30 in a makeup game Thursday, and the Lady Pirates followed with a 54-25 win over Sidney on Friday.

The Priddy girls are chasing a 12-0 record in district for a third consecutive season -– with games against Gustine, Mullin and Blanket standing in the way.

“When the season started and we had 13 players, we wanted to press full-court and run the floor,” Cain said. “We wanted to sub five players in and five out every quarter. But when we lost so many players, we were just trying to manage games in our half-court offense and defense. There were a couple of times where I didn’t know if we’d have enough players to finish the game.”

While managing a fluctuating roster, the Priddy girls took nondistrict losses to Richland Springs, Huckabay, Lingleville and Cross Plains. But Priddy managed a nine-game win streak and started another streak that reached nine games with Friday’s win over Sidney.

“Rianne Hurst and Alyssa Hurst were the constant threads that kept our team together,” Cain said of his two four-year starters. “The other girls stepped up. Subs became starters, and we had to figure out everybody’s new role.

“As we got players back – we have 10 players now – things began coming together. Sydney Partin has developed into our best 3-point shooter, Lindsey Grelle is back at point guard, and MaKyna Harvey has come back from a medical issue and given us a physical presence.”

Rianne Hurst, a 5-foot-10 senior, has been dominant for the second consecutive season. She leads Priddy in scoring at 21.5 points per game, 2-point field goal shooting at 46 percent, rebounding at 10.2 per game, blocked shots at 3.3 per game and steals at 2.4 per game.

Alyssa Hurst, a guard, is the Lady Pirates’ top defender who adds basketball savvy on the court. Partin is averaging 10 points and 5.8 rebounds, plus she is shooting 33 percent from 3-point range. Grelle averages 4.5 assists, and Harvey scored seven points in her second game back.

The Lady Pirates have been dominant in district, winning their nine games over Zephyr, Blanket, Evant, Mullin, Sidney and Gustine by an average of 36 points. The Lady Pirates’ closest district game has been 24 points.

“The Zephyr game Thursday night (a 61-30 win) was the first time we’ve played like a ranked team,” Cain said. “We were aggressive and confident. Now, we have to become consistent at playing that way.

“You know in the long run, fighting through all that adversity probably helped us, because a lot of those girls that had to step up and play more improved quite a bit. That might pay off for us in the playoffs. “

Around the area

Before their win Friday win over Lampasas that completed an undefeated first half in District 6-4A for the Brownwood boys, the Lions stunned Glen Rose on the road Tuesday with a 56-52 win. Guard Jakob Hataway scored 22 points, and guard Bryson Monroe added 18 points as the Lions built a 16-point first-half lead, lost it, but then held on for the impressive road win.

Before their stunning rally from a double-digit deficit in Friday’s win over Lampasas, the Brownwood girls dropped a 78-33 decision at No. 7-ranked Glen Rose. It was the Lady Lions’ third loss to Glen Rose this season.

On Tuesday, Jan. 25, the Early boys beat Millsap 75-28, and the Longhorns improved to 19-8 overall and 6-2 in District 8-3A. Jaxyn Price and Vic Cooper combined for 35 points in Early’s 47-point win.

Also on Tuesday, the Early girls logged an important win over Millsap 40-38 as Madison Torrez scored 11 points. Early improved to 5-5 in District 8-3A while Millsap slipped to 6-4.

The Goldthwaite boys gave away their leg up in the District 29-2A race with Friday’s 38-22 loss at Mason. The loss dropped the Eagles (7-1 in district) into a first-place tie in the loss column with San Saba (6-1), which was open Friday.

Only three days after scoring 78 points in a 54-point win over Junction, the Goldthwaite boys scored 22 points at Mason (5-3 in district) and missed 16 of their 17 field goal attempts during the first half. Mason led 13-2 at halftime.

In District 18-1A, the Priddy boys beat Zephyr and Sidney this past week, and the Pirates improved to 20-4 overall and 7-0 in district.