By TONY EIERDAM
HAMILTON – Although big sister Sydney Shelstead, a senior post, dominated with a game-high 18 points and 18 rebounds, it may have been little sister Kennedy Shelstead, a sophomore wing, who was most valuable to her team.
And for their father, Mineral Wells head girls’ basketball coach Ed Shelstead, he couldn’t have been happier as the first-year head coach has taken his team to the regional quarterfinals after a 45-41 victory over Liberty Hill here Friday night in a Class 3A, Region I area championship game.
The win advances the Lady Rams to the regional quarterfinals where they will face district rival Kennedale, a team MWHS lost twice to in league play.
Tip off will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Weatherford High School. The winner will advance to the regional tournament at United Spirit Arena in Lubbock.
While Sydney scored the points and scooped up balls off the glass, Kennedy did a defensive number on Liberty Hill’s top scoring threat, Maddie Metzger.
Kennedy Shelstead’s aggressive play on defense frustrated the Lady Panthers’ senior post, who fouled out with a little more than five minutes left in the game.
Kennedy Shelstead also scored 10 points, the final point on a free throw with six seconds remaining to play that sealed the victory.
Lady Rams head coach Ed Shelstead was proud of his daughters, but equally proud of the effort of his entire team.
When the Lady Rams needed another offensive boost, senior guard Niya Benavides provided it from the perimeter as her pair of three-point baskets at the end of the third period and beginning of the fourth gave the Lady Rams an offensive and emotional boost.
“So much of what we do revolves around Sydney and Niya,” Ed Shelstead said. “Niya’s two threes in the second half gave us a spark, and those were crucial baskets.
“I though Kennedy made two huge plays in the second half. One was attacking Metzger and getting her to foul out, and another was the free throw she made at the end.”
With the Lady Rams trailing 33-32, Benavides canned a three-pointer from the left perimeter to give the Lady Rams a 35-33 lead just before the third period ended.
After Liberty Hill guard Ashlee Walker scored to tie the contest, Benavides followed with a trey from the right side to give the Lady Rams a 38-35 lead.
Liberty Hill would come back to take a 41-40 lead before Sydney Shelstead found Kennedy Shelstead for a layup that gave the Lady Rams a lead they would not relinquish.
A pair of free throws by junior guard Bethany Allen extended the lead to three points, 44-41, and with 10 seconds left Allen made the defensive play of the game with a steal.
Liberty Hill fouled Kennedy Shelstead four seconds later, and she hit the first of two charity shots to seal the win.
“Kennedy is a spark for us,” Ed Shelstead said. “Offensively, she gave us some big baskets, and defensively, she has long arms and is all over the place. I am very proud of her.”
Liberty Hill, the District 8-3A champion that was a state finalist last year, looked like they would settle the issue early and jumped out to an 11-2 lead.
But Sydney Shelstead scored on a put back and followed with a pair of layups to cut the lead to 11-8. The Lady Rams narrowed the margin to 11-10 when freshman point guard Natalie Ragland nailed a pair of free throws.
The coach said he nor the team panicked when down nine points early.
“I told them to take it one possession at a time, and I never thought we were out of it,” Ed Shelstead said. “We also picked up the pressure a little bit and our defense created some opportunities.
“Sydney had three consecutive buckets and brought us back. We also had other girls step up in our run to come back from 11-2.”
MWHS trailed by three after the first quarter and looked like they would go into the locker room at the half behind by the same margin. But Kennedy Shelstead drew a foul and canned both charity shots to cut the Lady Panthers’ lead to 23-22 at the half.
MWHS 13 9 13 10 – 45
LHHS 16 7 10 8 – 41
MWHS – Sydney Shelstead 18, Niya Benavides 10, Bethany Allen 7, Kennedy Shelstead 10.
By TONY EIERDAM
- Local Sports
District, area championships highlights of Santo baseball season
Playing into the third round of the 2013 Class A baseball playoffs, the Santo Wildcats fell to state-ranked No. 3 Bosqueville in two games of their best-of-three series.
No. 3 Bosqueville sweeps Santo in regional quarterfinal series
State-ranked No. 3 Bosqueville jumped out to an early 5-0 lead and never looked back as the Bulldogs defeated the Santo Wildcats, 14-6, here Saturday afternoon in game two to sweep the Class A, Region II regional quarterfinal series two games to none.
Lady Rams made school history in 2013
In a season where they never had their entire personnel on the field and healthy at the same time, the Mineral Wells Lady Rams softball not only persevered, but at the same time made school history.
After winning District 10-A outright and sweeping an area championship series, the Santo Wildcats baseball team will have its toughest task of the season when they face state-ranked No. 3 Bosqueville in a best-of-three regional quarterfinals series.
Local athlete to represent Texas in global tourney
Mineral Wells High School senior A.J. Williams was selected to represent the Lone Star State in a basketball tournament set for this summer.
Bi-district championship, near 6-3A title highlights of Rams 2013 baseball season
A near District 6-3A championship and a bi-district title were the highlights of the Mineral Wells Rams in the 2013 baseball season.
Burkhart not coming to Gordon; search on again for Longhorns’ grid boss
Last month, in a surprise announcement, successful Richland Springs head coach Jerry Burkhart eresigned from his post as head coach to take the suddenly-opened head football coaching position at Gordon.
Millsap’ Younger, Strawn’s Alison each finish sixth at state track meet
Three Gordon boys’ relay teams, two Strawn boys’ pole vaulters and a Millsap girls’ distance runner all competed Friday and Saturday at the University Interscholastic League State Track and Field Meet at Mike Myers Stadium on the campus of the University of Texas.
Burkburnett completes sweep of Lady Rams with 5-3 win
State-ranked No. 6 Burkburnett outlasted Mineral Wells in game two of a best-of-three regional quarterfinal series as the Lady Bulldogs held off the Lady Rams, 5-3, here Saturday to complete a series sweep.
Shelstead earns silver medal in discus at 3A state track meet
Mineral Wells senior thrower Sydney Shelstead earned a silver medal in girls’ discus for a second-place finish Saturday at the Class 3A Track and Field Meet at Mike Myers Stadium on the campus of the University of Texas.
- More Local Sports Headlines
- District, area championships highlights of Santo baseball season