“I felt like we weren’t playing fast enough,” said Oden, who was helming the team in place of head coach Craig Hines, who was out of town for a previously arranged family engagement. “I wanted to put some pressure on the ball and reorganize things somewhat. I wanted to get us moving a little faster, and we got the kind of pressure I was looking for.”
Kell switched to a full-court pressure defense out of the timeout, resulting in a 15-3 run and sparking the Lady Longhorns to a 58-43 win in the championship game of the Campbell Holiday Classic at Wills Gymnasium.
Three players scored in double figures for Kell (9-1), which has won seven straight.
Stuger finished with a double-double after totaling 14 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and six steals. Erin McKinney came off the bench to contribute 11 points and six rebounds, while Caliya Robinson added 11 points, five rebounds and three steals despite early foul trouble.
Kell also had help from China Henderson, who posted eight points, four rebounds, five assists and four steals and her sister, Onyx, who registered six points, seven rebounds, three assists and four steals off the bench. Nikki Eggers drained two 3-pointers and finished with six points and three rebounds.
“The girls really stepped up, especially our seniors, who helped carry the load with Caliya sitting on the bench because of foul trouble,” Oden said. “We were able to play everyone in key spots and got contributions from everywhere. The whole team really stepped up in Caliya’s absence.”
The press continued to pay off in the second quarter as Kell opened the frame on a 12-2 run. McKinney scored seven of her 11 points in the second period, and the Lady Longhorns’ pressure on Westlake (7-2) led to 27 first-half turnovers. Kell held the Lady Lions to two field goals in the second quarter and outscored Westlake 31-10 over the final 12 minutes of the first half en route to a 38-19 halftime advantage.
“That’s what we do,” Oden said. “These are the kind of players that we have. We use our defense to spark our offense and we get up and down the court.”
The margin grew to 20-plus points on several occasions in the third quarter, and Kell took its biggest lead of the game — 54-31 — with 0.3 seconds left on Robinson’s feed from China Henderson.
Westlake held the Lady Longhorns without a field goal for the first 6:45 of final quarter to pull to within 56-41, but it was too little, too late.
Anriel Howard, who was named to the all-tournament team, led Westlake with 19 points, 14 rebounds and five steals. Franceska Brown, who also made the all-tournament team, had 10 points, 10 rebounds and three steals.
Stuger, Robinson and China Henderson each made the all-tournament team from Kell, with Robinson named the most valuable player.