Lady Hornets sweep Lufkin for first time since 2021

Jan. 23—HUNTSVILLE — Over the last two seasons Lufkin has been able to do something a lot of teams can't. Lufkin has topped Huntsville the last two seasons in Lufkin to dampen the Lady Hornets' district play.

But that changed this season. With a previous win at Lufkin, the Lady Hornets needed to grab the home win to finish the season sweep.

Huntsville did that with a 60-21 rout of the Lady Pack to stay perfect in District 16, 5A play.

"I told the girls before we played Lufkin the first time that it was time for us to go to work," Huntsville head coach LaToya Bennett said. "We saw them in the Baytown Lee tournament and took some notes there, we were prepared for them. When we come back to the Bohan, that is where we have to set the tone for things. Losing to them on the road has been tough the last two years."

Over the last few weeks, Huntsville has been working on its ability to work around a zone pressure. The Lady Pack gave them that tonight.

As Huntsville is a typical drive-to-the-basket team, they had opportunities to take three-pointers against Lufkin and they took some.

Huntsville went 2-9 from behind the arc with senior A'Quarius Howard and freshman Oniyah Ledet each hitting one.

With Huntsville normally not taking the long-range shots, things opened up for them as the zone started to slip. Especially with senior forward Chelsea Butler who has been trying to fill out her role since joining the Lady Hornets after volleyball season.

"We've been working on handling zone sets. Lufkin sat in a 2-3 zone all night, which made us have to work a little bit more on the outside," Bennett said. "We couldn't get Chelsea as involved early as we would have liked to. Once they opened a bit, we reversed the ball quickly and got things going inside."

Huntsville has relied on Butler and sophomore Alyvionia Winn inside to fight to get up close and fight off defenders. Tonight those things clicked for them.

Butler filled the role by adding 12 points as Winn came up with six rebounds and four points for the Lady Hornets.

"I think it was a lack of confidence," Butler said. "The teams that play us like to double and triple team the guards. It's tougher for them to give us the ball. These past couple of practices, Bennett has been working on post-receiving the ball. I think it's helped with my confidence."

Another thing that helps is Bennett being a former post player for Sam Houston and can provide an added touch for Butler and Winn as they are the only two forwards.

"Chelsea and Alyvionia have been putting in a lot of extra minutes with me. I played down low so I'm able to work with them and pour a little bit of knowledge and make them better," Bennett said. "It's been special. Chelsea didn't know what her role was going to be with the team, but she came in with a positive outlook and embodied what we want to see."

This game proved to be the most complete game Huntsville has played this season. The Lady Hornets scored in double figures in each frame with the third quarter being the best. Not only did they do it on offense, the defense stepped up too.

Lufkin's best quarter came in the fourth when they scored 13 points with the help of sophomore Akira Smallwood, who had 11 points in the frame.

Huntsville's senior guard Ma'Halia Twine led the way for Huntsville with 22 points, seven rebounds and six steals. She was fed throughout the game by Howard, who finished with nine assists.

"The deficit is going to be important for us moving on, especially with the district not being as competitive in some areas as it is in others," Bennett said. "When we move on to the playoffs, we need to set the tone and let teams know we can put 60-80 points on the board. In the playoffs, that deficit will look a lot different."

With the flip of district play, Huntsville will hit the road for another test. The Lady Hornets will match up with Kingwood Park for the second time this season when Huntsville grabbed a 77-41 home win.

The Lady Hornets and Lady Panthers will square off at 6 p.m. Friday in Kingwood. The game will be broadcast on the 101.7 KSAM YouTube page.