By Travis M. Smith | Ellis County Sports Sports
RED OAK — With three wins this past week, the Red Oak Lady Hawks are once again marching toward the 5A basketball playoffs.
The Lady Hawks entered the Christmas break as the 19th-ranked team in Class 5A, as polled by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches. Neighboring and district foe (9-3) Midlothian checked in at No. 22 in the same poll.
Red Oak capped its three-game post-holiday layoff with a convincing 59-32 District 14-5A victory on the road against those state-ranked Lady Panthers. The Lady Hawks also picked up dominating wins against 6A Waxahachie (71-36) and district-foe Cleburne (51-27) on Monday and Tuesday, respectively.
Red Oak head girls’ basketball coach Darren Eubanks said the team has focused on conditioning since returning to the court. He noted the three games in six days — and six games in 12 days — would only help quicken that process.
“We had been off for five days, so our focus right now is on conditioning so that we can press and do all of the things that we normally do,” said Eubanks following Monday’s 71-36 non-district win against 6A Waxahachie. “We need to polish up a little bit, but we are an older, veteran group that won’t play down to any level. We will find a way to play to the right speed.”
BIG THREE BACK
Red Oak is still led by its talented big three — junior guard Breanna Davis (22.0 PPG, 5.8 RPG, 5.5 ASST, 2.8 STL), senior forward Aniyah Johnson (14.5 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 2.1 STL, 3.2 BLK) and junior point guard Amyia Bowie (6.7 PPG, 5.3 RPG, 3.3 ASST, 4.9 STL).
The trio led the Lady Hawks to a 28-7 overall record and a perfect 12-0 district championship in 2019-20. They also carried the team to the 5A Region II semifinals (fourth round) before falling to eventual-state-champion Frisco Liberty, 42-36.
Eubanks noted Johnson (6-foot-2) has begun to “become the finisher that we need her to be,” while Bowie “gets us extra possessions and does those little things that we need her to do.”
“All of our girls are just really coming around and getting better,” he added.
WAXAHACHIE – MONDAY
Red Oak outscored Waxahachie 25-2 in the second quarter for an insurmountable 43-10 halftime lead. The Lady Hawks cruised home for the 71-36 non-district win.
Davis and Johnson both scored 20 points for the Lady Hawks, while Markeya Mack had 14 and Bowie added eight.
CLEBURNE – TUESDAY
Davis nearly set a new season-high in points thanks to 4-of-7 shooting from behind the arc. She finished with a game-high 30 points against the Cleburne Lady Jackets to lead the Lady Hawks to a 51-27 district-opening victory.
Davis set her season-high (31) in the double-overtime loss against Cedar Hill on Nov. 7. She has now scored 17 or more points in every game for the Lady Hawks this season, including 20 or more points eight times.
Johnson added seven points and nine rebounds, while senior Markeya Mack had six and Bowie scored four.
Red Oak collected 36 total rebounds and 12 steals to just seven turnovers.
The Lady Hawks defeated Cleburne both times out this past season, 70-41 and 67-25.
MIDLOTHIAN – SATURDAY
Behind Johnson’s double-double, the Lady Hawks trounced host Midlothian on Saturday afternoon, 59-32.
Red Oak led by six at the end of the first quarter, 18-12, but outscored the Lady Panthers 22-9 over the next two frames.
Johnson finished with 17 points and a team-best 12 rebounds.
The double-double was her second of the season. The senior previously tallied 13 points and 12 rebounds on Dec. 19 in a win against Dallas Lincoln.
Davis added a game-high 19 points and eight assists and Bowie finished with six points and a game-best five steals.
Despite the three wins, Eubanks said the Lady Hawks still need to focus on “boxing out and the little things.”
“We have to stay in our gaps and think about transition defense and stopping the ball,” he continued. “Those are the kind of things that we have been preaching all season and, for whatever reason, take a long time to implement.
“We don’t really have anything that we are just great at. We are obviously a pressing team and a running team. We have an idea of how we can dictate the game, but we are still working on getting better in those phases.”
Red Oak improved to 12-4 on the season with its perfect week and start to 2021.
The Lady Hawks came against 6A Cedar Hill (70-68, 2OT), TAPPS 6A Bishop Lynch, and perennial 5A powers Denton Guyer and Mansfield Timberview. They are now, however, winners of five consecutive games, including a 2-0 start to District 14-5A.
Red Oak will look to continue their winning streak at 5 p.m. Monday on the road against Corsicana. The game was initially scheduled for before Christmas but was rescheduled due to COVID-19 protocols. The Lady Hawks’ pre-holiday district game against Waco University will also be rescheduled.
The Lady Hawks then return to their regular district schedule to face Joshua on Tuesday (road) and Ennis on Friday (home), both tipping off at 6:15 p.m.
When asked how it feels to be back on the court and marching through a full basketball schedule, Eubanks replied simply, “God is good, man.”
“We were actually supposed to play before the Christmas break, but that didn’t go, so we just enjoyed the break and now here we are…just enjoying the blessing.”
All photos by Travis M. Smith, Ellis County Sports Sports
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith