HIGH SCHOOL GIRLS BASKETBALL: Lady Bronchos stampede past Lady Panthers

Much has been said about the defensive pressure that the Odessa High girls basketball team puts on opponents from the opening tip.

The Lady Bronchos decided to showcase their offensive prowess during a District 2-6A matchup Tuesday, as well.

Nesha Stephens scored a game-high 24 points to lead Odessa High past crosstown rival Permian, 64-28, at the Permian Fieldhouse.

Deoshanay Henderson added 18 points and Amber Escontrias chipped in 12 to the victory, which improved the Lady Bronchos to 7-8 overall, 2-1 in district play.

Camila Leal led the Lady Panthers (1-9, 0-2) with 10 points.

Stephens let everyone in the fieldhouse know she was ready to play, scoring the first seven points of the game on a drive, 3-pointer from the top of the arc and then turning a steal into another layup.

Odessa High led, 10-0, before Permian was able to break onto the scoreboard when Leal converted a pair of free throws with 3:56 to play in the first quarter.

“Nesha does well for us,” Odessa High coach Marcus Chapa said. “She’s a third-year starter on the varsity level and she’s starting to understand how to use her team.

“When she wants to give us 20-plus points, she will, and when she needs to incorporate her team because obviously they are doubling down on a kid, she’s able to do that. She’s a well-rounded point guard.

Stephens finished with 13 points in the first quarter and 17 in the first half, more than content to turn the scoring chores over to her teammates the final 24 minutes.

Melina Escogido connected on back-to-back 3-pointers from the corners in the second quarter and Henderson scored six points as well in the quarter as the Lady Bronchos raced out to a 39-9 lead at halftime, using their press to create turnovers and extra scoring opportunities.

“We harp on defense a lot,” Chapa said. “We primarily are a defensive team. We condition well, we run. That’s just the type of style we want to create here in West Texas, a run-and-gun, in your face with our press and the kids are buying into it.”

Leal started the second half with back-to-back field goals for Permian, but Escontrias answered for Odessa High with a field goal and two free throws.

Henderson, a sophomore, then showed her emerging dominance in the paint with a pair of scoring plays in which she grabbed an offensive rebound and then scored on the put back.

That’s a part of the Lady Bronchos’ effort that often gets overlooked, but one that Chapa wants his team to win each time they take the court.

“I thought tonight our bigs (Henderson, Escontrias, Page Byford) really gave us a look we really haven’t had all year,” Chapa said. “We pride ourselves in winning the small categories that no one gets praise for, the rebounding and back-side trash, the little things. We try to stay away from the oohs and aahs.”