WHEELER • When Mason Blair got hot, Smithville took off.
The senior guard buried four 3-pointers in the third quarter, helping the Seminoles pull away to a 54-41 win over Wheeler in the Division 2-1A opener for both teams.
Smithville (18-3) was clinging to a 22-16 lead at halftime, as its shots just weren’t falling.
“That’s what we talked about at halftime – we’ve got to make shots to make them come out; they pack it in so tight,” Smithville coach Nick Coln said.
The Seminoles did just what their coach wanted. Khieri Standifer sparked a 9-0 run early in the third quarter with three steals. His third of those swipes led to Blair’s first made 3-pointer after missing his first four attempts.
He made three more as Smithville outscored Wheeler 22-9 in the quarter.
“Shooting is just really mental to me sometimes,” Blair said. “I just sat down and thought about my shot and thought about what I could fix and came out the second half and shot it.”
Blair finished with 17 points, while Standifer had 16 points, six rebounds and four steals.
After shooting 33.3% from the floor in the first half, Smithville shot 46.2% in the second.
Wheeler (8-9), meanwhile, missed its first 14 shots from 3-point range and finished 3 of 19.
“Defensively we picked up the pressure a little bit, extended the zone, and I think that was the turning point of the game,” Coln said.
Jacob James led the Eagles with 22 points and 11 rebounds.
(G) Wheeler 60, Smithville 31: Brittany Oswalt scored 18 of her game-high 25 points in the first half as Wheeler (12-6, 1-0) cruised. Brianna Mason had 13 points and Jayden Lowery 10.
Carli Cole scored 10 to lead Smithville (8-11, 0-1).
Turning Point: Blair started Smithville’s 9-0 run with a layup, and Standifer followed with a steal and layup to give the ’Noles a 28-18 lead.
Point Maker: Standifer shot 7 of 14 from the field.
Talking Point: “To be 1-0 in this new season, as we say, is a great feeling.” – Coln