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Lady Hornets continue winning ways against K-Park

Jan. 10—HUNTSVILLE — After starting District 16 play with a 25-0 run against Lufkin, Huntsville girls' basketball stumbled out of the gate in the district home opener.

The evening was meant to celebrate teacher appreciation, and the Lady Hornets (19-7, 2-0 District 16, 5A) struggled to find momentum early in the game as the Lady Panthers got out to a quick 9-0 lead.

But Huntsville didn't fret as head coach LaToya Bennett called a timeout with 5:28 left in the first quarter. From there, it was all Huntsville.

"I don't call a lot of timeouts, to be honest with you," Bennett said. "If I had to call one in the first quarter they had me on my heels. I know the girls weren't expecting them to come out like that but they did."

After the timeout, Huntsville's offense went on a complete tear and outscored the Lady Panthers 16-0 the rest of the first quarter. Freshman Aariyah Willis and seniors Ma'Halia Twine and A'Quarius Howard led the Lady Hornets' attack.

The trio of players scored four points in the first frame and helped carry the momentum into the second quarter as Huntsville continued pitching a shutout for most of the quarter. Huntsville continued to dominate all over the court.

Huntsville outscored Kingwood Park 25-5 before the half.

"I was excited because Kingwood Park gave us adversity out of the gate," Huntsville head coach LaToya Bennett said. "They showed us that we do have people in district that will come in and play fast like us. Overall, I liked the way the girls slowed it down. We don't always do that but we did tonight."

Last season, Huntsville's postseason run had not been seen in some time. The Lady Hornets went three rounds deep in the postseason before dropping their game to Mount Pleasant. To get to that point Huntsville had to play a tough non-district schedule to prepare themselves.

The results weren't exactly great for Huntsville but this season it was different. With a similar schedule this season, the results were different and the Lady Hornets had success.

Now, it is translating on the court and Bennett can see it in front of her.

"We have played some of the best teams in the state. I thought tonight, we just needed to settle down. We had teacher appreciation, which always causes some jitters. I think we just needed to relax. Once we did, I started seeing the young ladies I work with daily."

Basketball is a game that requires everybody on the court to produce in some sort of matter. Sophomore Jazlyn Hill is a member that has stepped up on several occasions. Last year, her thoughts clicked during district and was a sharpshooter off the bench. Now, she is getting started and still producing.

Hill added nine points for Huntsville, two offensive rebounds and an assist against K-Park.

"I think Jazlyn is rounding out well behind the seniors," Bennett said. "Last year was a bit of a struggle but she hit her stride in the district. This year, I think she will build on it. We are working on her defense right now. Next year, she is going to be our driving force on varsity."

With senior leadership gone, Huntsville's core of Howard and Twine stepped up — along with sophomore Alyvionia Winn.

Winn came off the bench and was a major force as she led all scorers with 16 points. She finished with a double-double adding another 14 rebounds, a majority of them coming offensively.

Howard had off a 15-point game with an additional six rebounds. Twine and Willis both had double-digit points with 14 and 10, respectively. But across the board, Huntsville saw eight members score in the comeback win.

With two district games under their belt, Huntsville has beaten teams by an average of 37 points in the two games. In the first two games, Huntsville beat the team that was selected to finish second and third in District 16, according to Dave Campbell's Texas Basketball Magazine.

"I think Kingwood Park showed us that tonight. You don't expect them to push and they did. We set goals, and we build from them. Just the team working towards them every day is going to change the flow of things. I don't think we are going to take anybody lightly. We are going to take what we saw here at home and build on it," Bennett said.

District play will trek on for the Lady Hornets as they will hit the road for a two-game stretch. Huntsville will travel for a Friday night contest against Nacogdoches and will follow that up with a Tuesday road contest against Dayton.

All games will be broadcast on the 101.7 KSAM YouTube channel.