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Varsity Girls Basketball Loses Season Opener in Close Battle With Cy Woods

By Kevin Epps, 11/07/23, 5:40PM CST


The two leaders on the court for the Stratford Spartans to kick off the season Friday night at Cy Woods were Head Coach Audrisa Harrison and junior guard Aria Taylor. Harrison ascended to her position after Alexis Green left to pursue her desire to be a principal. Harrison has been the primary assistant and JV Coach the previous two years. Harrison was born in Point Blank, TX, played high school basketball in Livingston, junior college ball at Blinn and then went on to play in Lubbock at Texas Tech.

Taylor, on the other hand, traveled a bit further to get to Houston via Australia and Canada. She spent the last two years in a support role on varsity. Friday night she primarily served at point while last year’s starting floor leader, junior Rachel Ashby, was busy helping the volleyball team send a ball over a net, rather than through it.

Taylor was joined by seniors Kendall Zoboroski  and Emma Adisa and juniors Kendall Davis and Meghan Hallmark as the starting five. Last year the Spartans lost to Cy Woods by nearly 40 points in the first game. Taylor and her teammates were determined to deliver a different outcome this year.

Davis, the only true post player on the floor for the Spartans, scored the first points of the season off an assist from Adisa, who then scored herself from the left corner to take an early 4-2 lead. A Taylor dribble, spin-and-dump to Davis made it 6-2. Junior forward Bella Perroni came off the bench to hit a shot from the right wing to make it 8-2 Spartans to end the first quarter.

The fleet Hallmark spent last year dominating JV games and made her presence known early with great hand-eye coordination, leading to a steal and later a block. Taylor kept spinning and scored from 10 feet. Davis was finding open seams, and Taylor found her underneath to score and go up 12-7. Zoboroski scored off an offensive rebound. On an out-of-bounds play, Taylor hit Hallmark whose first varsity points turned into a nifty reverse layup, and the Spartans were in control 16-11 to end the half.

The game became a Tale of Two Cities. In the first half, the Spartans did not turn the ball over and kept the Wildcats’ taller post players from capitalizing on the size differentials. And the referees were barely noticed. The opposite happened in the second half.

Taylor brought a lot from the Land of Plenty to start the third quarter. She knocked in a trey, corralled a loose ball and drove the court to score, and then forced a jump ball and got the ball back from Cy Woods. The score was 20-14.

Hallmark dished to Taylor for another trey. Taylor added two free throws and an inside score to end the quarter at 32-25. But the Wildcats were grabbing more rebounds and getting more opportunities to score. The Spartans started turning the ball over more frequently.

There aren’t any native big wildcats in Australia, but there were on the floor Friday night. Some questionable calls against Davis put the Spartans' most effective post defender on the bench. Conversely the Wildcats were aggressive in trying to take the ball from the Spartans and literally scratched and clawed their way back into the game. Offensively the Spartans hit a rough patch and saw Cy Woods take the lead with 2:15 remaining in the game.

Taylor retook the lead off two free throws. Hallmark forced another turnover and scored on the fast break to put the Spartans up 39-37. With seconds draining on the clock, Taylor inexplicably hurt her ankle, and the Wildcats turned the injury into a tie game. Without Taylor, the Spartans did not score again and went down (under) 39-42. Taylor finished with 16 points and six rebounds. Davis scored eight and had 10 rebounds. Zoboroski had two points and eight rebounds. The Spartans' next game is Tuesday at home vs. FB Kempner.