There was only one thing listed in Irving College’s game plan Tuesday night – stop Elly Bain.
The Lady Tigers were able to slow down the West Elementary electric playmaker in the District 1 championship game to take home a 27-14 victory. The victory followed a perfect run through the regular season for Irving College, which finished the District 1 tournament by winning its 10th straight game.
It was an overwhelming accomplishment for first-year coach Jasmine Evans, who watched as her team grew together as the season progressed.
“I wanted to instill a love for the game and, through them, I rediscovered my passion for basketball,” said Evans, who was a champion as a Lady Tiger in the late 1990s. “We have love and respect for the game and for each other. Chance Hobbs, who I couldn’t have done this without, and I worked hard all season on developing and strengthening fundamentals. We continued to improve the entire season.”
The final test for the Lady Tigers was taking down the Lady Wizards for a third time, no easy task when the district’s leading scorer is on the other sideline.
Irving College took an extreme approach in guarding Bain. Bain was surrounded by two Lady Tigers every time West had the ball, while other defenders lurked at all time. The plan worked wonders, as West didn’t score until the final seconds of the first quarter.
On the other side, the Lady Tigers got a late layup from Lilly Cathcart to lead 8-2 after one period. Kaydence Smith, who would be named tournament MVP, connected on three free throws in the quarter.
Bain started to figure out the defense in the second quarter. She weaved through defenders and willed her way to the rim, often drawing contact on the way. Bain was able to score eight points in the second quarter and went to halftime having shot 16 free throws.
Ashlin Ried helped Irving College preserve its lead though. Ried connected on a pair of layups in the second quarter, the last coming just before the buzzer as the Lady Tigers led 18-10 at halftime.
Any chance of a West Elementary comeback fell by the wayside in the third quarter. Fouls began to pile up, with post Haven Hasty fouling out just a few minutes into the second half.
Bain followed shortly after, picking up her fifth with three minutes left in the third quarter. West scored just two points the rest of the way, getting a late jumper from Amaya Martin.
Irving College was able to put the game away with late layups from Cathcart and Presley Green.
Cathcart and Smith led the Lady Tigers with eight points, followed by Ried with six. Green finished with three and Emily Gonzales chipped in two.
Bain scored a game-high 10 points, while Martin, Hasty and Gabby Jones scored two points apiece for West Elementary.