GIRLS BASKETBALL: Odessa High can’t stop Amarillo Tascosa’s Smith, falls in district opener

Odessa High just couldn’t stop Ka’Lia Smith.

The Lady Bronchos tried seven different defenders against the 6-foot-1 Amarillo Tascosa junior post player, but couldn’t prevent her from tilting each team’s District 2-6A opener her squad’s way.

Amarillo Tascosa defeated Odessa High 48-34 Friday night at the OHS Fieldhouse thanks to 28 points from Smith and a dominant fourth quarter performance where the Lady Rebels outscored the Lady Bronchos by 15.

Ruthie Fox led Odessa High with 11 points, followed by Kai’Naja Walton who had 10.

“We didn’t come up with a new scheme,” Odessa High head coach Olivia Pyburn said about her team’s efforts to stop Smith. “We stuck to what has been making us successful so far and that’s our 2-3 zone. There were moments in the game where we didn’t guard her well and allowed her to get loose, get the upper hand and get the easy put-backs.

“We stuck to what we know; we just didn’t do a good job of executing tonight.”

The Lady Bronchos held Smith to only six first-half points and limited her for the first four minutes of the second half. Then with Odessa High (17-5, 0-1 District 2-6A) up seven points, Smith found a seam in the OHS defense and exploited it the rest of the game.

A majority of Smith’s 13 baskets came either after a pass from behind the 3-point line or after she grabbed an offensive rebound.

“(Odessa High) didn’t really front me and when they did front me, it was easy to lob it over because I’m so tall and they’re not as tall as I am,” Smith said. “It was kind of difficult at first, but we got used to it.”

Smith, who is being recruited by a few Division I schools, came into the game averaging nearly 18 points and 14 rebounds a game. Both totals will go up after her efforts against the Lady Bronchos. 

“She’s great, she’s so athletic and she’s a leaper,” said Amarillo Tascosa head coach Betsy Baughman. “She keeps us in a lot of games for that very reason. She struggled early and she came back and stuck with it and squared up to the basket and did a great job.

“We’re real fortunate to have Ka’Lia on our team.”

Smith led the fourth-quarter Lady Rebels’ charge to put the game out of reach for the Lady Bronchos.

Defensively, she made it tough on Odessa High’s post players to get position around the hoop and when OHS’ shots stopped falling, she was able to grab the rebound.

She’d then pass to one of her teammates who would try to dribble past a Lady Broncho or wait for her to make her way up the court and feed the ball to her.

Smith wouldn’t be denied, scoring 14 of the 19 fourth-quarter points for Amarillo Tascosa (13-8, 1-0).

“She definitely hurt us in the fourth quarter,” Pyburn said. “She’s a heck of player; I won’t take anything from her. She lived up to the hype; I can definitely see her playing at the next level.

“We got comfortable in the post area and didn’t do a good job of blocking her out.”

Odessa High now has to regroup and focus on its next district game Tuesday at home against Wolfforth Frenship.

Frenship will play its first district game at 3 p.m. today against Midland High.

Until then, the Lady Bronchos will focus on their low-post defense and attempt to become better at closing games.

“That was a stinger, but I told my girls that we got to finish the game, that’s one thing we didn’t do is finish what we started,” Pyburn said. “The way they competed tonight, I’m proud, but I’d be more proud if we pulled it out but we got to finish. That’s the factor that killed us tonight is not finishing the game.”