Morton Ranch High School, Mavericks, Texas high school girls basketball, Katy ISD

Bailey’s anticipated return sparks Mavs’ win

By STEPHEN GREENWELL, Times Correspondent
Posted 12/9/19

Heading into their non-district matchup against Fort Bend Travis on Monday, Dec. 9, only two people knew it would be the long-awaited return to game action for Morton Ranch senior center Madyson Bailey — her and head coach Kisha Jones.

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Morton Ranch High School, Mavericks, Texas high school girls basketball, Katy ISD

Bailey’s anticipated return sparks Mavs’ win

Posted

Heading into their non-district matchup against Fort Bend Travis on Monday, Dec. 9, only two people knew it would be the long-awaited return to game action for Morton Ranch senior center Madyson Bailey — her and head coach Kisha Jones.

“They (players) didn’t find out until right beforehand that she was going to play,” Jones said, adding that she thought it would provide a spark for the team. “We explained to her and to the team that there would be a minutes restriction, but they had more confidence knowing big sister was going to be out there.”

While Bailey only played about 10 minutes and scored six points, her presence in the lineup paid dividends in the Mavericks’ 61-59 win. It allowed fellow senior and captain Jharyn Craig to attack more in transition and finish with a team-high 18 points.

Bailey missed almost a year because of a torn ACL suffered in January. She said she was still working herself back up to full strength.

Before the setback, the nightly double-double threat was a serious contender for District MVP.

“I just want to focus on getting back into the game,” she said. “It’s been 10 months and it’s difficult, but I want to get back to where I was, like the injury never happened.”

Going forward when Bailey is fully healthy, Jones said their starting lineup would likely include her and senior captain Nekil Richardson, who finished with 11 points against the Tigers.

“I clear my mind when I’m in a game,” Richardson said of her post game, which featured multiple putbacks and fighting for rebounds. “I block everything out, and I just do me. I just get aggressive.”

Bailey and Richardson are a rugged duo down low, but they both have finesse aspects to their games. Richardson has the speed to bring the ball up or to drive past slower defenders on the perimeter, and Bailey—a college softball signee for Texas-Tyler—can throw a stellar outlet pass the length of the court.

Jones anticipated improvements throughout the starting lineup as Bailey worked herself back in. Craig, senior Amya Scott, junior Schyler Falls, junior America Lopez and sophomore A’lyvia Jackson will all play significant minutes in the guard and wing rotations.

“Jharyn (Craig) is actually a guard who’s been forced to play a post position while Maddie is out. So when Maddie comes back, she’s going to work back to the (wing) position,” Jones said. “Once she settles in and she’s healthy enough to play a full game, then Jharyn Craig will be able to fill those lanes and play her normal position a bit more.”

With players forced into different positions and roles because of the injury, Morton Ranch has played unevenly to start the year. The win against the Tigers improved the Mavericks to 6-6, although they had to survive a furious comeback to secure it.

The Mavericks led by 11 in the second half, and by eight after three quarters. However, they gave up four 3-point shots in the fourth, with the final one cutting the lead to 60-59 with seven seconds left. Morton Ranch was able to hit a free throw, and a final drive by the Tigers was contested in the lane by Bailey, with the shot not reaching the rim.

In light of the fourth quarter, the three senior captains said they needed to work on their communication on offense and defense. The Mavericks struggled to break the Travis fullcourt press and committed four five-second violations during the game.

They also shot 8-for-16 from the free-throw line in the fourth.

“It’s mostly the communication on the court that we need to work on,” Craig said. “We had a cushion, but toward the end we lost that momentum that we had coming into the game. Certain things that helped us in the beginning, we didn’t have in the end, so we need to work on finishing, and finishing with the lead.”

Jones thought those smaller things would naturally improve as players got more comfortable in their roles. She saw an early-season close call like this as something the players could build upon in practice.

“I think it’s something we definitely need to work on, and I hope that winning the game is going to give them confidence to know that they can do it,” she said. “The whole time, I told the girls, ‘We’re still ahead. Just make your free throws, get to your defensive assignments.’ I think it’s something we’re going to build on and work on.

“The girls have a positive mindset because of how it turned out, but we still have work to do.”

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