Girls basketball: Memorial in title fight
Memorial girls basketball team finished the first half of District 19-5A with a share of the district lead, but with six games remaining, anything can happen in the tight district.
Memorial head coach Jyusef Larry knows that, which is why he is encouraging his girls to look at things one game at a time and not get too ahead of themselves.
"It's going to take a lot of hard work to win the district title, but if we continue to have defensive improvement, we will be OK," Larry said. "This is a loaded district with five really good teams, so it will take 10 wins to win this district. For us to get those wins, we have to take it one game at a time."
The Mustangs claimed the district lead with a win over Katy Taylor in the first round of district, but Memorial dropped its next contest against Katy. Larry said the team lost some focus after the win against Taylor, but he promised that wouldn't happen again.
"After we beat Taylor and lost the next game to Katy, we learned from that experience," Larry said. "We know that we have to focus one game at a time."
After getting beat up a bit during the non-district, Larry kept reiterating to his team that it was all about getting to Dec. 7 and the start of district. Memorial is playing six new teams in District 19-5A after playing the SBISDs and Alief ISD schools for the past two years.
When district started, his team was prepared despite heading into district with a losing record.
"They have responded well to the new district," Larry said. "We talked about Dec. 7 being the day that it all started for us. On that day, everyone was 0-0 again and the non-district records didn't count. We went through the first round of district 5-1. Now, we have to finish it."
What makes the Mustangs' impressive start to district more meaningful is that they are doing it without one of their senior leaders, Kirby McDaniel, who has been out with an injury since the second game of district.
Since the loss of McDaniel, Larry has said the girls have all stepped up. With the second half of district remaining, the team will have to continue coming together in order for Memorial to reach its goal.
"It has been a whole collection of players stepping up in order for us to do what we have," Larry said. "We have focused on defense since we lost our four-year letterman, and we will have to continue to do that.
"Since the beginning of the year, we have been talking about them leaving a bit of a legacy here. The best way to do that is to win district or win a playoff game, so there will be something on the wall in the gym. We want to leave something behind. We have been working towards that every day. We want to win district and make that legacy."
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