RED OAK — Fresh off the sting of a home district loss, the Red Oak Lady Hawks were faced with their tallest order of the season Tuesday evening — a showdown against top-ranked Mansfield Timberview and future Texas A&M Aggie Chennedy Carter.
Luckily for those seated inside the warm confines of the Red Oak High School gymnasium, 32 minutes were not enough for the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches’ 5A No. 20 Red Oak and No. 1 Mansfield Timberview. The Lady Wolves are also the No.1-team in the MaxPreps.com national poll, just ahead of 6A No. 2 Duncanville — whom Timberview split a pair of games with this season.
Behind her game-high 20 points, which include five in overtime, Carter and the (16-1, 3-0) Lady Wolves held off the scrappy (15-3, 1-2) Lady Hawks, 61-58.
Throughout the game, Jesyka Lee was tasked with guarding Timberview’s Carter, a 5-foot-9 senior listed as a five-star prospect and No. 6 recruit in the nation by ESPN high school scouts. Carter recently signed with Texas A&M University over the likes of the University of Texas, Kansas, South Carolina, TCU and Tennessee.
Carter can fill a box score, like when she went for 40 points in a three-point win over 6A No. 1 Duncanville earlier this season. With that in mind, Red Oak Head Coach Jeff Sutton was quick to point out how hard the point guard had to work for each of her baskets Tuesday due in large part to Lee’s pressure in the half court.
“No one is going to out hustle and out effort Jesyka,” Sutton said. “She is the hardest playing kid that I have maybe ever seen in my entire life. I knew that she would give it all she had and I thought Jesyka did a tremendous job on [Carter]. She played exceptionally hard, smart and made [Carter] work for everything.”
Outside of Carter, Timberview's Lauryn Thompson and Red Oak two-guard Sarah Bush each tallied 19 points. For the Lady Hawks, Madi Washington added 13 points, Lee nine and Serena Patterson seven, while Brooklyn Evans and JaNae Jones each accounted for six points, respectively.
The Lady Hawks began the fourth quarter down a dozen, 45-33, but two Sarah Bush free throws after a fast break that started with a Madi Washington rebound quickly cut into the deficit.
With the Lady Hawks still charging, a perfect trip to the line for Washington whittled the gap to seven with 5:14 to play in regulation. Serena Patterson then yanked down a rebound to kick-start yet another Red Oak fast break, which resulted in a Jesyka Lee and-one.
Lee, who finished with nine points and a perfect 3-for-3 from the charity stripe, knocked down her free throw to continue the 10-2 Red Oak start.
The run grew to 14-3 when Washington found Patterson on the low block for an easy bucket off the glass to pull within one, 48-47, with 2:04 on the fourth-quarter clock. Patterson then grabbed a board on the defensive end, was fouled in the process and made the backend of her trip to the charity stripe to knot the game at 48 with 1:42 to play.
The tie was the first since the Lady Wolves outscored the Lady Hawks 15-4 in the second quarter to take a 24-18 halftime lead.
“What we talked to them about after the game in the locker room is trying to put together 32 minutes,” said Sutton of the Lady Hawks’ stretch of play during Tuesday’s second quarter. “[…] The mental focus ebbs and flows throughout the game. I thought tonight we had that bad second quarter and then we had a two-or-three-minute stretch in the third quarter that was about as bad as we can probably play.
“[…] If you take away that minute or two minutes, that is the difference. But if ‘ifs and buts are candy and nuts’ or whatever it is. We need to realize that [Timberview] is a team that could potentially play in the regional tournament or even play in the state tournament. To beat those kinds of teams you have to play for 32 minutes, or, like tonight, you have to sometimes even play for 36 minutes.”
The push toward overtime continued with a split trip to the free throw line by Timberview's Thompson. Carter then added two more from the line to put the Lady Wolves back on top, 51-48, with under 60 seconds to play in the fourth quarter. Each team then added a free throw and the Lady Hawks were in all too familiar territory — Red Oak had possession, down three, in the waning seconds of a district game.
However, unlike Friday against Legacy where the Lady Hawks attacked the basket, Sutton said his team learned from the wasted opportunity. Out of a Red Oak timeout with 16 seconds on the clock, Washington drove the lane and dished to Bush, who was left open in the right corner.
“We talked about having Madi drive the ball, and everyone would be worried about her and then have Sarah out there for her to pass to,” Sutton said. “Sarah is a really good shooter and I knew when Madi hit her that she had a clean look. [Timberview] helped off or sagged in enough that Sarah got a clean look.”
The junior found nothing but the bottom of the net to send the game between two of 5A’s best into overtime tied at 52. The trey capped her team-high 19 points and Red Oak’s 19-7 fourth-quarter run.
“She hit a three to beat Flower Mound Marcus for us and she has already hit a few big shots for us this year,” the Red Oak head coach added. “I’m kind of at the point where if she gets a clean look, I almost expect it to go in.”
Sutton described the overtime frame as being very “disjointed” with numerous stoppages and whistles for deflected passes, turnovers and several fouls, which hampered both teams in finding a groove on offense.
Even still, Red Oak took its first lead since the second quarter when JaNae Jones knocked down her two shots from the charity stripe after Timberview started the frame on a 3-0 run.
As she had done several times already, Carter responded right back with a drive and floater off the glass on the Lady Wolves’ end to retake a one-point Timberview lead. The Lady Wolves added two more free throws for comfort to finish 19-of-34 (55.9 percent) from the line as a team. Red Oak, which went 21-of-29 (72.4 percent) when toeing the free throw line, came up empty on the offensive end and fell to No. 1 Mansfield Timberview, 61-58.
“It’s disappointing,” Sutton said. “The kids fought like crazy to come back for the second-straight game. We just have to figure out a way to not put ourselves in those situations.
“Overall, I thought our energy picked up during the fourth quarter. We got to some loose balls, took some charges and we seemed to get more of the rebounds that don’t always go our way sometimes. Serena and Jesyka are going to be big parts of that always. We aren’t the biggest team in the world so it is going to take all five of us doing our part. I thought in that fourth quarter that everybody who was out there did their part.”
Red Oak does not play again until Dec. 28 when the Lady Hawks return to game action in the three-day DISD Coca-Cola Tournament. Tournament times were not available as of press time. The Lady Hawks return to district play Jan. 3 on the road against Waxahachie.
Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith