When it comes to basketball, the flu works in mysterious ways.
In the 1997 NBA finals, Michael Jordan had his legendary flu game to earn his fifth NBA title. In 2011, Dirk Nowitzki overcame a fever to turn the tides of the NBA finals, besting the ‘Big 3’ to bring the Mavericks a much needed ring.
Last night, in the third place game of the Longhorn Invitational against rival Plainview, Lone Grove head coach Jeff Word had his ‘flu game’, overcoming sinus pressure and the weight of being on the wrong side of a six year losing streak to give the Lady Horns their first victory over the Lady Indians since he began coaching the team in 2012.
Word said the Lady Horns 59-43 win over the cross town rival was bigger than most.
“It’s big, this is the first one we’ve got since I’ve been here,” Word said. “I’m from here and I have good friends at Plainview, but when you’re playing them you hate them. They hate us and we hate them. That’s the way it’s always been and it’s healthy. Rivalries are always healthy.”
The game was physical from the jump, and with whistles getting both teams in early foul trouble, Lone Grove kept feeding the ball inside to forward Shelby Stevenson.
Stevenson scored 8 points in the first quarter to give the Lone Grove an early 9-1 lead. But Plainview stormed back with a 10-4 run to bring the game to 13-11 heading into the second quarter.
“She’s a load to guard down there and they didn’t have an answer to it,” Word said. “We just kept feeding her and feeding her.”
Plainview and Lone Grove each played a strong defensive second quarter, with Lone Grove heading into halftime with a 24-20 lead.
In the third quarter, Plainview swung the momentum in their direction, with a full court press that pressured the Lone Grove’s guards, leading to turnovers and a pair of big three pointers by Plainview’s Amiya Howard and Anna Simmons to cut Lone Grove’s lead to 36-35 heading into the fourth.
But early in the final period, Howard was sidelined after catching an elbow as she tried to force a jump ball. After Howard left for medical attention, the tides turned in Lone Grove’s direction, with the Lady Horns outpacing Plainview 23-8 down the stretch.
“My guards had trouble bringing it up, but they responded well late in the game,” Word said. “I thought the difference was us handling the pressure and us playing defense late in the game.”
Stevenson led Lone Grove in scoring with 21 points, Taleigh Nail scored 12 points and Lydia Saavedra scored 9 in the win.
Anna Simmons led Plainview with 17 points and Howard scored 7 points.
Plainview will be at Madill Tuesday night. Lone Grove (7-4) is set to host Sulphur Tuesday at 6:30 p.m.