LONGVIEW — Coming off a first-round playoff bye, the Winnsboro Lady Raiders opened the Class 2A, Region III area girls basketball playoffs with a decisive 80-22 victory over Harleton on Friday night at Pirate Center on the Pine Tree High School campus.
Brea Draper scored a game-high 19 points and came away with seven rebounds to lead the way for the Class 2A No. 10 Lady Raiders, who improved to 27-8 overall, outscoring the Lady Cats by 21 points in the first quarter and by 23 in the third.
Winnsboro advances to meet Mount Pleasant Chapel Hill, a 47-43 winner over Elysian Fields in second game of Friday’s playoff doubleheader, at a site and time to be determined. Harleton completed its season with a 22-9 record.
For first-year Winnsboro coach Chris Lewis it was officially playoff win No. 1 for a program where the standards set by former coach Buddy Hawkins and the expectations of the fans are high as Lady Raiders have qualified for the girls state tournament 12 times, winning three championships.
Lewis, who was been an assistant under Hawkins for eight years, knows about the expectations.
“We’ve got to play hard to be effective. I’m trying to instill that in this group of girls,” Lewis said. “We capitalized on some turnovers and built an early lead. Then, I felt we started coasting a little in the second quarter and you just can’t do that in the playoffs if you expect to keep playing for very long.”
Lewis felt his team, leading by 22 (36-14) at halftime, started the second half ugly and called two timeouts in the first few minutes of the third period to settle his players. His strategy worked.
Draper, one of four senior starters Lewis has relied on this season, was consistent, hitting her average point total for the season (19) in the contest.
“She was right on her mark … consistent. She can post up or step out and hit the shot,” he continued.
She was joined in double figures by Danie Mabry, who finished with 13, and Holly Stone, who added 11, as 10 different Lady Raiders scored against the Lady Cats, who defeated Harmony 55-47 in a bi-district contest earlier this week to reach the second round of the playoffs.
Turnovers were a thorn in the Lady Cats’ side, though, all evening.
Harleton fell behind early as Winnsboro opened the game, building a 12-0 lead before adding to its advantage with an 11-0 burst to end the period, after the Lady Cats’ Brea Jackson got Harleton’s initial basket of the game and only two points of the quarter with 4:40 remaining in the period.
Eleven of Winnsboro’s first 23 points came off Harleton turnovers.
Harleton’s Hilary Hunter hit a couple of three-point baskets and had eight of her 11 points for the game in the second quarter, but despite that, the Lady Raiders still led comfortably by 22, 36-14 at intermission.
Harleton committed 38 turnovers compared to Winnsboro’s 12. The Lady Cats outrebounded the Lady Raiders 32-30. Harleton did not help itself though at the free-throw line, converting only 1 of 9 attempts.
Class 2A, Region III Area Playoff
At Pirate Center in Longview
Winnsboro 80, Harleton 22
Harleton 2 12 5 3 — 22
Winnsboro 23 13 28 16 — 80
HARLETON – Brea Jackson 4, Hayley Hunter 3, Kaylee Knowlton 2, Baylee Cochran 2, Hilary Hunter 11.
WINNSBORO – Hannah Pinnell 3, Veronica Rios 2, Danie Mabry 13, Holly Stone 11, Hayley Cox 6, Jordan Haney 3, Bailey Swanner 4, Abigail Ramirez 2, Brea Draper 19, Robyn Davis 6.
THREE-POINT GOALS – HARL 3: Hunter (3). WINN 8: Pinnell, Mabry (3), Stone, Cox (2), Haney.
RECORDS – Winnsboro 27-8; Harleton 22-9.
NEXT UP – Harleton eliminated from the playoffs. Winnsboro vs. Mount Pleasant Chapel Hill in the regional quarterfinals at a site and time to be determined.