Five-guard formula working well for Aledo girls

With its lineup of five guards, the Aledo girls basketball team depends on full-court defense and an up-tempo style to wear down opponents.

Coach Rusty Johnson’s formula is working well for the Lady Bearcats (22-4), winners of 11 straight games. Aledo leads District 5-4A with an 8-0 record and is ranked No. 4 in the ESPNDallas.com Class 4A Top 10.

“We’re fortunate to have excellent guards, and my philosophy is to have my best players on the floor,’’ said Johnson. “We have enough height with Mallory Powell to defend the post. Offensively, we have a dribble-drive mindset.’’

Powell (5-foot-10) is the only junior on the varsity roster and the team’s leading scorer at 17.6 points per game. The all-state selection from a season ago also leads the team in rebounds with 7.6 per game. And she draws fouls, as 118 trips to the free throw line attest.

Alyssa Dry, a 5-foot-8 freshman point guard, tops the team in assists and is second in scoring with 14.5 points per game.

“Point guard is not an easy position for a freshman, but Alyssa has stepped in and delivered a lot of firepower,’’ Johnson said.

Senior Alanna Martin, a four-year starter, was the district’s defensive player of the year a year ago and averages 8.9 points. Sophomore Megan Wood and senior Caileen Tallant round out the starting five.

Although Hannah Loftin is not a starter, the 5-foot-6 senior is a key contributor. She is third on the squad in scoring with a 9.2 average and had a team-leading 21 points (on seven 3-pointers) in Tuesday’s 60-51 victory at Birdville.

“Hannah was all-district last year, but she seems to be more comfortable coming off the bench,’’ the coach said. “She could be starting, and I’ve talked to her about it. All she wants to do is win.’’

Johnson, in his third season as head coach, said Aledo had lofty goals this season with several returnees from last season’s 30-3 team. The 2010-11 Lady Bearcats were eliminated in a 59-52 overtime loss to Stephenville in the area round. Aledo was without senior star Logan Mittie for most of that defeat after she suffered a first-quarter injury.

“We had a pretty good run last season and our focus now is taking care of district,’’ Johnson said. “We have six seniors, but we’re still a young team. We’ve got things going in the right direction.’’

Aledo goes for consecutive district win No. 23 at 6 p.m. Friday with a road game at Fort Worth Brewer.