WOMEN’S COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Odessa College downs McLennan to move into Region V title game

WOLFFORTH The Odessa College women’s basketball team is one win away from adding a Region V title to go with its WJCAC crown.

The No. 1 Lady Wranglers jumped out to an early lead and never relinquished it on the way to a 76-64 win over McLennan Community College in the Region V semifinals Friday at Frenship High School’s Tiger Pit.

Odessa College (27-1) opened the game with an 11-2 run, and despite a few runs from the Highlassies (18-13), the Lady Wranglers controlled the play throughout the rest of the game.

“That’s a good basketball team. They shoot the ball great,” Odessa College head coach Ara Baten said of McLennan. “The kids responded every time they would make a run at us. We took the hit and came back and made plays. I was real proud of our team. They just shoot the ball so well. They have a couple of just really special guards. I thought we defended as well as we have in a really long time.”

Moa Lundqvist stepped up with a season-high 16 points to go with 15 rebounds and six assists in the victory. Lundqvist was the focally point of the Lady Wranglers post-up game with Leticia Soares battling foul trouble. The freshman forward from Sweden made the most of her extra opportunities.

“Moa played great. Leticia has had some trouble with fouls,” Baten said. “Sadie (Russell) played great and played a lot of minutes. I’m proud of all of them.”

Chinna Fair led Odessa College with 19 points in the victory. Fair hit 4 of 8 from 3-point range, including a critical one as the third quarter expired to push the Lady Wranglers’ lead to 58-48 heading into the final frame.

“We tried to attack when they were making a run,” Fair said. “We just needed to help. Our bigs were getting out to the 3-point line and help on their shooters.”

McLennan tried to fight back over the final 10 minutes, but the Lady Wranglers had an answer from Mariah McCully, who was able to attack the basket at will in the final quarter. The freshman guard scored 14 of her 16 points in the second half.

Odessa College controlled the boards in the win 54-30 and allowed just one McLennan offensive rebound in the whole game, while corralling 16 of its own misses.

Lundqvist noted that Odessa College seems to be at its best when the squad is active on the glass and creating second-shot opportunities.

“I think it was important to rebound,” Lundqvist said. “It gets us a lot of possessions. It’s a big thing and gives us more opportunities to play.”

McLennan’s 3-point shooting kept it within striking distance during the majority of the contest. The Highlassies hit 8 of 20 from beyond the arc, with four players hitting at least one.

Odessa College also had a hard time keeping Velma Mitchell under wraps. The Highlassies’ leading scorer finished with a game-high 25 points in the loss.

The Lady Wranglers will be back in action today in the Region V final against Collin County Community College at 2 p.m. The Lady Cougars won the NTJCAC title and pulled a bit of an upset by knocking off South Plains College in the semifinals 77-70 to earn their spot alongside Odessa College in the title game.

“I haven’t seen enough of them,” Baten said. “I know they’re talented. I know they’re well coached. It’s going to be tough.”