GIRLS HIGH SCHOOL BASKETBALL: Odessa High surges past Midland High in second half

&lclass="BodyCopy">For Odessa High head coach Olivia Pyburn, the mantra for Friday’s game was simple: finish the fight.&ltgt;&lclass="BodyCopy">That message was taken to heart as the Lady Bronchos used a second-half surge to hold on for a 41-32 win over Midland High Friday night at the Odessa High Fieldhouse.&ltgt;&lclass="BodyCopy">“Finish the fight was our theme for the week,” Pyburn said. “They really bought in to that and it carried over from practice. To get this win tonight is an amazing feeling.”&ltgt;&lclass="BodyCopy">The Lady Bronchos (16-10, 1-2 District 2-6A) picked up their first district win of the year and were led by senior forward Skylar Herrera, who finished with a game-high 17 points.&ltgt;&lclass="BodyCopy">“It feels great to get this win,” Herrera said. “Midland High played well and it was a tough fight but we showed a lot of heart and we kept fighting and executing when we needed to.”&ltgt;&lclass="BodyCopy">“We just didn’t compete at the level we should compete at,” Midland High coach Wesley Torres said. “Give credit to Odessa High. They are a well-coached team and they came out ready tonight to try and win.”&ltgt;&lclass="BodyCopy">The game was a slow grind from the opening tip as both offenses struggled to get going in the first half.&ltgt;&lclass="BodyCopy">After Teleshia Lafell made the opening basket of the game two minutes in for the Lady Bulldogs, it took until the 1:28 mark of the opening quarter for Odessa High to make its first field goal off a layup from Herrera.&ltgt;&lclass="BodyCopy">The Lady Bronchos made their first four points from the free throw line, which proved to be pivotal down the stretch.&ltgt;&lclass="BodyCopy">Odessa High was a perfect 12-for-12 from the charity stripe; Midland High finished 5-of-12.&ltgt;&lclass="BodyCopy">After Odessa High pushed the lead to 12-6 midway through the second quarter, Midland High (15-11, 1-2) went on an 8-2 run to close the first half to go up 15-14 at the break.&ltgt;&lclass="BodyCopy">“I just told our team that we had to be poised and relaxed on offense,” Pyburn said on her team’s halftime message. “We just needed to run our stuff and stay true to what we do.”&ltgt;&lclass="BodyCopy">The Lady Bronchos emerged a different team in the third quarter, making the shots that weren’t falling in the first half and tightening up the defense with their 2-3 zone.&ltgt;&lclass="BodyCopy">A Herrera 3-pointer broke the 20-20 tie midway through the third quarter as Odessa High outscored Midland High 15-5 and rushed out to a 29-20 lead after three quarters.&ltgt;&lclass="BodyCopy">“Our defense is very hard to beat and that’s something that we like to take a lot of pride in,” Pyburn said. “That was the best defensive effort I’ve seen from my team since I’ve been here.”&ltgt;&lclass="BodyCopy">The Lady Bronchos pushed the lead to as many as 12 points in the fourth quarter but Midland High put together one last rally.&ltgt;&lclass="BodyCopy">Taysha Rushton ran off seven of her nine points in the fourth quarter to put the Lady Bulldogs within five with under three minutes left.&ltgt;&lclass="BodyCopy">Rushton and Lafell each finished with nine points for Midland High.&ltgt;&lclass="BodyCopy">However, a 3-pointer from Odessa High’s Melina Escogido with 2:05 remaining put the Lady Bronchos back up eight to give the team the breathing room it needed to close out the game.&ltgt;&lclass="BodyCopy">“Tonight was a big confidence booster for us and this program,” Pyburn said. “They see that they can win games in a tough district.”&ltgt;&lclass="BodyCopy">“Midland High is a great team and it was a battle tonight but I’m glad that we were able to be on the right side of the scoreboard.”&ltgt;&lclass="BodyCopy">>>Follow Tony Venegas on Twitter at @OA_TVenegas&ltgt;