Written by Matt Wixon
MacArthur girls' inside attack, ramped-up defense subdue Plano West
CARROLLTON — With the help of three 3-pointers in the first quarter Tuesday night, the Irving MacArthur girls basketball team jumped out to a lead. But after Plano West battled back to tie the score at halftime, MacArthur coach Suzie Oelschlegel reminded her team that the inside track to a victory was inside the lane.
And so, MacArthur began driving hard to the basket and getting higher-percentage shots. The result, combined with some intense second-half defense, was a 67-60 victory over Plano West in a tense Class 5A Region I quarterfinal at Hebron.
MacArthur (34-2), the defending 5A champion and state’s top-ranked team, will face Lubbock Coronado in the Region I semifinals Friday. Plano West, ranked No. 6, ended its season with a 34-3 record that included two losses to MacArthur.
“Coach told us at halftime to start taking it to the rack and stop settling for 3s,” said MacArthur guard Alexis Jones, who dropped in 37 points. “And that’s what we did.”
They did it quickly after a frenetic, pedal-to-the-metal first half ended in a 33-33 tie. Devri Owens hit a 3-pointer on the first possession of the second half to give Plano West its first lead, but then MacArthur — and especially Jones — took over.
Jones dished inside to Cierra Robinson for a basket and then scored six quick points on a 15-foot jumper and a pair of slashing moves to the hoop. She helped finish the 10-0 run by blocking a shot and throwing the ball downcourt to Ayriel Anderson, whose layup gave MacArthur a 43-36 lead with five minutes left in the third.
Plano West couldn’t cut the margin to less than five.
“What really made the difference was our defense,” said Jones, who has signed with Duke. “We came to play in the second half, and we really wanted it.”