MONTICELLO — McGehee won its home game against Drew Central earlier this year despite 25 points by the Lady Pirates’ Cierra Gardner.
With Drew Central hosting the return match, McGehee coach Karen Broughton wanted her defense to step up. And step up it did.
Gardner had 13 points, but didn’t make a single three-pointer and forced several contested shots as the Lady Owls pulled away for a 52-31 win on Friday night.
“I wanted to make sure we put a little more pressure on her,” Broughton said of Gardner. “She had 25 against us the first time.
“I told our team, ‘We will not let her get that again.’”
Gardner managed just four points in the first half as Drew Central (11-9, 3-3 in 8-3A Conference) limped into halftime down 24-11.
“I think our defense was the difference,” Broughton said. “They stuck to the plan.
“We were very successful with what we wanted to do.”
While Gardner was struggling, McGehee’s star player Shakyla Begnaud was shining.
The sophomore finished with a game-high 27 points, including 16 in the first half. An average performance by her standards, but impressive considering she came off the bench.
Broughton said the decision to bring Begnaud off the bench was discipline-oriented.
“I knew she would get in there right away,” Broughton said. “I was impressed. She didn’t start, but she came out hard.
“Many would just shut down in that situation, but she didn’t. She took full responsibility and came to play.”
McGehee, which got 10 points from Raven Burks on Friday night, will wrap up its regular season with a home game against Camden Harmony Grove on Tuesday.
After losing its conference opener to Fordyce, McGehee (11-7, 6-1) has reeled off six straight wins.
“We hated to get off to the start that we did,” Broughton said of conference play. “But we’ve been practicing hard and coming out and playing hard.
“We just need to make sure we play our game no matter who we play.”
McGehee at Drew Central, suspended
The McGehee-Drew Central boys basketball game was suspended prior to the start of the fourth quarter. The game is scheduled to resume on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Drew Central High School with the Owls leading 53-45.