• Burleson’s Tyler Prater goes up against Centennial’s Kertisa Amos and Zassmine Birdwell for a rebound during Tuesday’s District 9-5A game at Burleson. Centennial collected the win over the Lady Elks, 45-39. BURLESON STAR/RICKY MOORE

Defense leads Lady Spartans by Lady Elks

For the second consecutive time, Burleson held a lead over arch-rival Centennial at halftime at home.

And for the second consecutive time, the Lady Spartans avoided the trap laid by the Lady Elks to win.

Centennial slipped by Burleson, 45-39, Tuesday night in a District 9-5A girls basketball game on the strength of solid defense.

“I felt like our defensive effort was where it needed to be tonight,” Centennial coach Valerie Wootan said. “The kids really worked hard defensively. “

The Lady Spartans (16-8, 5-1) retained a share of the district lead with the win. Centennial, which hosts Granbury Friday and plays at Joshua Tuesday, is tied with Arlington Seguin. Burleson (12-11, 2-4) plays at Cleburne Friday and hosts Arlington Seguin Tuesday.

“Both teams really wanted to win,” Burleson coach Curtis Ennis said. “We really needed the win to get back in the fight for that fourth spot in the district. We’ll regroup and get ready for Cleburne on Friday.”

With the win, Centennial has won five straight over Burleson. The Lady Elks last win over the Lady Spartans came Feb. 6, 2015.

“I knew this was going to be a tough game for us,” Wootan said. “Burleson has improved so much and they have been playing well lately. I wasn’t surprised by how well they played tonight.”

The Lady Elks led 23-21 at halftime, but they managed just three points in the third quarter as Centennial took a 30-26 lead into the final quarter.

Just when Burleson closed to within 30-29 early in the fourth quarter, Centennial’s Kertisa Amos, who had been causing trouble for the Lady Elks all night on defense, made a steal and hit an easy lay-up for a three-point lead with seven minutes remaining.

Centennial then got baskets from Zassmine Birdwell and Abbi Williams to push the Lady Spartans lead to 36-30. But Burleson responded with three free throws from Caitlyn Kirkham to slice the advantage to 36-33.

Ady Mize responded for Centennial with a three-point play and another Amos lay-up off a steal for a 41-33 lead with 3:56 to play.

“In the second half defensively, Kertisa stepped it up when we were pressing and that created some energy on offense,” Wootan said. “She helped get things going with her defensive play.”

Burleson would cut the lead to 41-37 with 2:40 to play on a jumper by Maleigha Landers but would get no closer. The Lady Spartans turned up the defensive intensity and Burleson struggled to hit shots.

“I thought the effort was there tonight but the execution in those last couple of minutes, especially offensively, was lacking,” Enis said. “We didn’t get shots on three consecutive possessions and that just can’t happen.”

Senior Sarah Reid led the Lady Elks with 12 points while Kirkham finished with six points. Centennial found a way to slow down three-point shooting freshman Landers, who finished with five points and made one three-pointer. The Lady Elks made four of 19 three-pointers on the night.

Mize had another big game for the Lady Spartans, finishing with a game-high 16 points. Amos scored 11 points and Birdwell finished with eight points.

“Ady really stepped up and played well,” Wootan said. “I think in general it was one of those games where we didn’t play particularly well but we toughed it out and made plays at the right time. I’m proud of them for finishing the game."

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