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By Tony Eierdam
With the Aledo Ladycats leading by six points at the half on the road against Richland, head coach Rusty Johnson's halftime speech to his team focused mainly on defense.
"I simply told them we needed to turn up our intensity, especially on defense," Johnson said.
Apparently, the Ladycats were listening.
Aledo came out with a shut down, pressure defense that held Richland scoreless for first 8:42 of the second half - including the entire third quarter - while pouring in 28 points to come away with an impressive 49-27 victory in a non-district contest.
Junior guard Logan Mittie - fresh off an all-tournament effort at this past weekend's Cross Timbers Classic in Stephenville - led the Ladycats with 12 points while grabbing six rebounds and four steals.
Sophomore guard Alanna Martin also reached double figures with 10 points while also recording three rebounds, a steal and a block.
Senior post Tara Gough also enjoyed a solid outing with seven points, a team-leadng seven rebounds and a team-high three blocks.
Freshman wing Mallory Powell finished with five points, five rebounds and a steal.
Also scoring for the Ladycats were sophomore wing Caileen Tallant with four points, Melissa Howell, Sarah Hawkins, and Shelby Stockard, each with three, and Jessica Lapointe with two.
Paced by four points from Martin, the Ladycats took a 7-5 lead after the opening period. Aledo jumped out to a 15-5 lead in the second
stanza after a three-pointer from Howell and two free throws and a trey by Powell. Richland came back with an 8-2 run to cut the AHS lead to 17-13, but in the next 30 seconds Gough hit a jumper from the left baseline and Mittie canned a pair from the line for a 21-13 lead. Richand closed the first-half scoring with a pair of charity shots as Aledo led 21-15 at the break.
The Ladycats took control of the game in the third quarter, forcing turnovers and dominating the glass. Mittie found Martin for a layup to begin the scoring, and after Gough recorded a free throw, Mittie scored on a driving layup down the right side to increase the AHS advantage to 26-15.
Mittie finished off the scoring in the third period by hitting one of two free throws as the Ladycats took a 27-15 lead into the fourth quarter.
Richland manged to cut the Aledo lead to 11 points two and a half minutes into the final period, but Aledo followed with a 14-0 run to
put the game out of reach.