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DaMya Toney scored 25 points Saturday, including five 3-pointers, as the Lady Dragons of Paris Junior College went on an early 10-1 run to pull away from Panola College and go on to an easy 72-51 victory.
After opening Region 14 conference with two losses back in December, Coach Michael Madrid’s team has now won seven of eight, including 6-of-7 in 2014.
Paris is 7-3 in league play and 13-9 overall.
Chy Cunningham added 14 points and Maeghan Scott 13 points for Paris. Cunningham had two 3-pointers and Scott had one.
Kiara Freeman and Kierra Campbell had 16 points each for Panola (1-9, 8-14). Panola’s Fillies had seven 3-pointers, four of them by Freeman.
Back-to-back shots from outside the 3-point arc helped pull Panola out of an early hole and into a 15-15 tie midway through the first half.
But the Lady Dragons answered with a 9-1 run for a 25-16 lead, and Panola never got closer than eight points after that.
“I told our players in the locker toom, after the game, I thought that was our most complete 40 minutes that we’ve played all year,” Madrid said.
“In the first half, we were really dialed-in, mentally, and focused. We really defended well. We gave up a couple of 3′s in transition, but for the most part they were very focused. I told them they were a lot of fun to watch.”
Trinity Valley is running away with the Region 14 women’s race with a perfect 11-0 record, but Paris is just a game behind Tyler and Blinn, who are tied for second with 8-2 records. Fifth-place Jacksonville (5-5) is two full games behind the Lady Dragons.
“We’re in pretty good shape right now, but like I old our players, anything can happen on any given night so let’s just focus on getting better in our next practice. We’ve just got to work hard every day in practice and tweak a few things and get better.”
Madrid’s style of basketball is to play tough defense and execute well on offense.
“I enjoy playing this brand — kind of grind it out, play defense. It seems a lot of teams just like to score as many points as they can. I really stress defense and offense execution,” he said. “I love our players. They’re fun to coach.”
As has become commonplace for Lady Dragons’ opponents this season, Panola didn’t get many free throws Saturday. The Fillies made every shot they attempted, but that was a mere 4-for-4, with Paris committing only nine fouls in the contest.
Panola committed 16 fouls, resulting in 20 free throws for the Lady Dragons, who made 12 of them.
Madrid’s players have bought into his insistence that they raise their hands and stay on the floor rather than trying to block opponents’ shots.
“We’re not shot blockers. We’re not,” he said. “I tell them, every time, just play smart. Stay on the floor and make them shoot over you. Then we’re in rebounding position.”
Madrid says he’s enjoying this season, which not only is his first season as the Lady Dragons’ head coach, it’s his first head coaching job anywhere.
“Sometimes I don’t even believe I’m a head coach, it took so long to get to this point,” said Madrid, who was an assistant coach at Eastern New Mexico, Lubbock Christian and Texas Woman’s University before PJC hired him during the off-season.
After Sean LeBeauf resigned during the off-season to accept an assistant coaching job at the University of Arizona, PJC regents initially voted to shut down women’s basketball at Paris Junior College. But they quickly reconsidered, and Madrid was selected out of a large group of coaches who applied for the position. Madrid was grateful.
“I’ve had so many jobs that I got turned down for, where I was told I needed head coaching experience. I obviously thank Dr. (Pam) Anglin and the committee for giving me this opportunity,” he said.
“I’ve been fortunate over the years to work with some good people. They taught me a lot and I’ve learned a lot in 19 years. I’m not nearly as hot-headed as i used to be.
“One thing I understand is, they (his players) are people and I’m going to coach them as hard as I can, and at the same time we’re going to take care of them and love them. As long as they continue to improve, day in and day out, I’m a happy man.”
Panola (1-9, 8-14) — Kiara Freeman 16, Tiaka Lee 3, Kierra Campbell 16, Lizzy Harrison 2, Amy Williams 10, Kadesha Barry 2, Timetra Goodson 2. Three-Pointers: 7 (Freeman 4, Lee 1, Campbell 2). Fouls: 16.
Paris (7-3, 13-9) — Chy Cunningham 14, DaMya Toney 25, Victoria Maddox 7, Shanice Vaughan 4, Catarina Rendon 2, Maeghan Scott 13, Shannon DeFoe 7. Three-Pointers: 8 (Cunningham 2, Toney 5, Scott 1). Fouls: 9.