CAPTION: Marble Falls senior forward Emma Koziel scans the paint while junior Lexie Edwards resets during the Lady Mustangs’ win against Leander Rouse. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro
The Marble Falls High School girls basketball team is quietly 7-1 as the Lady Mustangs head into the Thanksgiving holiday.
Head coach John Berkman said it’s the best start to a season since he took over the program seven years ago.
“Being 7-1 is big for us going into Thanksgiving,” he said. “Right now we’re playing really well early.”
The latest win came against Leander Rouse in a 61-25 blowout Nov. 22 where the Lady Raiders scored only 10 points in the first half and 3 in the final stanza.
Meanwhile Marble Falls lead 7-4 after the first quarter and exploded for 15 in the second while holding Rouse to one point until the final 90 seconds of the half for a 22-10 advantage at the intermission.
The Lady Mustangs didn’t ease up in the third as illustrated by the four 3-pointers they dropped in led by senior guard Tea Rodriguez, who scored three of them. Senior forward Emma Koziel scored the other. Marble Falls outscored Rouse 26-12 in the period for a 48-22 lead headed into the final quarter.
The coach substituted freely, and the Lady Mustangs didn’t drop their intensity. Rouse didn’t score for almost six of the eight minutes in the quarter, and Marble Falls closed on a 13-1 run for the victory.
“I thought our defense was tenacious,” he said. “In the first half, we struggled offensively, but we didn’t give up too many points. Our effort on defense leads to a lot of things on the other end.”
All but one Lady Mustang scored with four in double figures: Rodriguez had 16, senior guard Alyssa Berkman and junior forward Avie Nail each had 13, and junior center Lexie Edwards dropped in 10. Half of Berkman’s points came from hitting two 3-pointers.
Coach Berkman noted his players showed their arsenal from different spots on the floor. If Rouse didn’t guard the 3-point line, the Lady Mustangs made them pay. If they left Edwards one-on-one on the low block, she would take a power dribble and use her dropstep to make her way to the basket for a two-footer.
“We talk a lot about the fact everyone has to do their jobs,” he said. “We have a lot different options. We can make threes so they can’t sag on Lexie. Lexie does her job as do all of our posts. They all do really well and make it difficult on the other team to decide on what they’re going to stop.”
He added his players are not only playing tough defense, they’re also playing smart defense, too. Case in point was when the Lady Raiders thought they’d get a quick bucket off a steal at midcourt. The younger Berkman saw the ball handler was being defended, so she dropped back into the paint then ran forward to steal the ball in the passing lane and got it to Edwards for an easy two the other way. The entire play, from the time of the first steal to Edwards’ bucket, took 20 seconds.
“We have a lot of girls on our team whose basketball IQs are really high,” the coach said. “They understand how to play things and read the other team. They anticipate and run well. They can jump the passing lane and immediately turn the offense the other way.”
Marble Falls welcomes Belton at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 29, to Max Copeland Gym on the MFHS campus.
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