Lady Spartans win 12th straight

Kyle Riviere
East Ascension's Sharan Turner plays defense during the Lady Spartans' 17-point victory over Scotlandville. Photo by Kyle Riviere.

Heading into the 2016-17 season, it was the East Ascension boy’s basketball team that got all the hype—and deserving so. The Spartans returned three starters from a team that reached the state semifinals last spring.

But through the first 14 games, the East Ascension girls have made an emphatic statement that people should not forget about them.

On Tuesday night, the Lady Spartans raced past Scotlandville, 51-34, to earn their 12th straight victory. Seven of those wins have come by double-digits.

But despite the easy win over the Lady Hornets, head coach Dennis Chandler still thinks his team has a long way to go before they reach their full potential.

“In all of the games that we’ve won, we could have played a whole lot better,” Chandler said. “Right now, they’re just satisfied with winning; they’re not satisfied with getting better. We have to get better. We’re just doing enough to win right now, and that’s not good enough for me.”

Much of Chandler’s frustrations were centered around the first quarter.

It was an ugly start for the Lady Spartans as they turned the ball over and missed many open shots. It translated into just a 7-6 lead heading into the second.

“They took too long to get into it. They didn’t do the concepts of what we were supposed to be doing,” Chandler said. “They came out lackadaisical. I’ve been telling them this whole time that they cannot do that against good teams.”

The poor play continued for East Ascension at the start of the second quarter as they remained sloppy with the ball and missed easy layups.

“I really don’t know why they came out that way. There’s really no excuse,” Chandler said.

However, the Lady Spartans finally turned things around midway through the quarter.

That turnaround was sparked by Diniaa McZeal. She hit a transition 3-pointer and later turned a steal into a coast-to-coast layup to stretch the East Ascension lead to 10.

The Lady Spartan defense only intensified. They began forcing turnovers in almost every Scotlandville possession.

Alynzia Morris scored in transition after a steal, and to end the half, McZeal came up with another steal that resulted in a layup.

A 17-4 East Ascension run gave them a 24-10 lead at the break.

To start the third quarter, Sharan Turner scored 3, and Morris drilled a trey to open up a 17-point advantage for the Lady Spartans.

That’s when East Ascension got sloppy again.

After a string of turnovers, Scotlandville was able to trim into the deficit. They found themselves only down 34-23 heading to the fourth.

With the Lady Hornets threatening to make it a single-digit game, Turner took over for the Lady Spartans.

She scored two straight buckets to push the lead back to 14, and a basket by Faith Williams extended the advantage to 18.

From there, East Ascension rolled to the 51-34 victory.

After that sluggish first quarter, McZeal scored 9 for the Lady Spartans, and Turner exploded for 20.

East Ascension has been on a roll ever since the end of last year’s regular season.

They ended 2015-16 with a 6-3 record down the stretch and made a return to the playoffs. This season, they have raced out to a 13-1 mark.

Chandler still sees many areas in which his team needs to improve before district play begins this week.

“We need to execute our concepts better and start doing things that we’ve worked on,” Chandler said. “They need to start playing like they enjoy the game of basketball and play like it’s a game—not a job. We need to play together as a team and enjoy it. They need to accept criticism and coaching, and they need to start playing for each other—not for themselves.”