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Katy holds off Tompkins, stays unbeaten in 19-6A

January 7, 2019

The Katy girls basketball team is adjusting a new role in District 19-6A this season. After a few quality seasons of upending programs with more recent success, the Tigers are now being chased.

Katy coach Shanna Marhofer expects the best shot from every opponent, similar to the Tigers’ 43-41 victory Jan. 4 at Tompkins. The Falcons led at halftime and cut an 11-point, fourth-quarter deficit down to a basket.

It was the closest district game of the season for Katy (18-3), which defeated Taylor, Mayde Creek and defending champion Seven Lakes by a total of 73 points.

But the Tigers entered the final week of the first round 4-0. They face two key games against rival Cinco Ranch and Morton Ranch, which improved to 5-0 in district and could be team being chased in the second half.

“I think everybody in the district is gunning for us,” Marhofer said. “We’re the team to beat. I always prefer to be the team that sneaks up on people, because in the past that’s what we’ve had to do. But our kids rise to the occasion. They prepare hard every week. They do their job studying their opponent. I don’t think that will be any different next week.”

The Tigers did much of what they needed against Tompkins, except offensively. Both teams had cold stretches, due in part to solid half-court defense.

The Falcons did make five three-pointers in the first half, including three in a row from Crystal Smith and Leanna Yee for a 13-9 lead. Both hit from outside again in the second quarter, resulting in a 25-23 halftime lead.

Rachel Williams and Savannah May kept Katy in the game, with Williams adding a pair of blocks in the paint and May sinking a late three to close the halftime gap to two points.

But the Tigers had several scoring opportunities draw iron.

“That was actually something we struggled with all game, finishing around the rim,” Marhofer said. “We are a team that gets pretty hyped when we score. We take our intensity from the defensive end and transfer that to the offensive end. But we were really struggling to score tonight. But the kids never gave up. They never stopped working. They never stopped believing we were going to get the win. But it wasn’t our best night.”

Katy took over the game in the third quarter, particularly with its most effective press of the night resulting in several turnovers. The Tigers held Tompkins without a field goal for more than seven minutes while taking a 37-26 lead on threes by Jenna Caskey and Allana Thompson and a putback by Williams.

But Tompkins did not go quietly, with Yee hitting twice from outside surrounding a steal by Smith. Sophomore post Mackenzie Durnford made three clutch baskets in traffic for the Falcons, the last resulting in a three-point play with 43 seconds left that produced the final margin.

Mia Hill made a steal to set up a possible game-tying stay at the free-throw line. But the front end of the one-and-one was missed and Thompson grabbed the rebound for Katy to end the game.

Tompkins returned two starters, Yee and Hill, from last season and has otherwise been developing a relatively young squad. The starters or top bench players include two sophomores and freshman Brooklyn Nash.

“I think we’re real close to making a break and being better,” Tompkins coach Tamatha Ray said. “I don’t know how good. We’re just trying to get right between the ears. We’re a little bit young.”

The Falcons (10-8) fell to 1-3 in district play but has performed like a group capable of rallying into a playoff spot. Tompkins’ three defeats are by a total of nine points.

“Big win at Cinco, played an overtime game with Morton and Seven Lakes was three, so they were all real close,” Ray said. “We’ve got two to go before we make the turn.”

Tompkins closes the first half with Taylor and Mayde Creek. The Falcons could catch Taylor in the standings with a win. The Mustangs improved to 2-2 with a big 33-30 victory against Seven Lakes.

The competitive nature of several 19-6A games suggests anything could happen in the final month. A close pack of teams could be chasing Katy or Morton Ranch by the end of next week.

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