Big second quarter lifts West Mesquite past HP

GARLAND, Texas -- Highland Park kept pace with a quick West Mesquite team for about a quarter.

Then the Lady Scots started turning the ball over.

That lead to a disastrous second quarter for Highland Park where West Mesquite built a huge lead and cruised to a 62-51 win on Friday at the Garland Special Events Center.

West Mesquite (31-7) advances to play Rockwall in the Class 4A Region II finals at 3 p.m. Saturday.

"A lot of teams think they're quick," said West Mesquite head coach Darrin Samuels. "But it's not track quick, it's basketball quick. You have to be able to change to directions and stay under control while you do it. We can do it."

Highland Park (25-8) looked impressive in the first quarter as Sydney McDaniel, Amanda Goodwin and the rest of the Lady Scots' fast-paced offense clicked, giving them a 15-13 lead heading into the second quarter.

But it went south in a hurry. West Mesquite had no trouble running down a Highland Park offense that likes to push the ball down. As a result, the Lady Scots had more turnovers (11) than points (five) in the second quarter.

"We had to man up on their two best players -- No. 44 [Kaitlyn Read] and No. 12 [McDaniel]," said West Mesquite point guard Sha'Georgia Williams. "We're a small team, so we have to out-quick everyone and keep the game going at our tempo."

West Mesquite capitalized on those turnovers behind Williams' play. She scored 13 of her game-high 24 points in the second quarter and guided the Lady Wranglers on a 19-2 run that began in the first quarter and didn't end until just before halftime. West Mesquite took a 35-20 lead into the break.

"We watched a little film," Williams said. "I personally sat there and watched the film on my own as coach just let it play in the locker room to see what I could do and what to tell my team to help us come out with the win."

Highland Park recovered a bit in the second half but played the entire third quarter without its leading scorer in Read, who picked up her fourth foul just after the halftime break. She finished with 12 points.

Meanwhile, West Mesquite continued to score at will. Despite a size disadvantage, the Lady Wranglers even found room to score in the paint.

The win puts West Mesquite within a win of its first state tournament appearance in school history, but it faces a versatile Rockwall team that can shoot from the outside and pound the paint with post Alyssa Lang.

"I know they can shoot, I know they play hard and I know they got a great coach," Samuels said. "That's the bottom line on that. We have to bring our A-game. Anything less and we're not going to meet our goal."