By John Wilbert/NEMS Daily Journal
HOULKA – Candiace McIntosh has played a big part in the success of Jimmy Guy McDonald’s Houlka team the past four seasons.
On Monday night, however, it was not only McIntosh, but her team’s reserve players as well, who played a significant role in McDonald’s 1,503rd career victory as a varsity boys and girls head basketball coach.
McIntosh, a stellar post player, scored a game-high 29 points, but she picked up her third foul with 2:58 remaining in the second quarter. She then took a seat on the bench, and her teammates responded with a 12-4 run to close out the half and make a five-point game into a 13-point one.
It was all Houlka after that, as the Lady Wildcats (15-13) cruised to a 69-46 MHSAA Class 1A North tournament first-round win over Falkner.
“That’s what I told our subs at halftime: ‘You all did a really good job coming off the bench in the last three minutes of the second quarter,’ ” McDonald said. “We were in a little bit of trouble at that time.”
After the intermission, the Lady Wildcats outscored Falkner 22-9 in the third period. At one point, Houlka led by 28 points.
“We had trouble breaking their press, and that’s what cost us the ballgame: too many turnovers,” said Falkner head coach Jake Walker, whose team finished its season at 6-17.
Walker also alluded to McIntosh down low as a game-changer in Monday night’s first-round game.
“We knew coming in about the McIntosh girl, (who was) averaging 20 points,” he said. “She was a lot better than from what I heard. She was about unstoppable for us.
“We had two or three on her at times.”
Ranesha Townsend added 14 points and Sara Zachary 11 for Houlka.
“Well, when we have three people guarding her, the other people are wide open,” McDonald said. “They better step up.
“If you get to stand out there and shoot with nobody guarding you, you gotta knock it down.
“And she’s (McIntosh) good about finding the open girl. She’s very unselfish. Sometimes I wish she wouldn’t pass it. But she does it pass very well.”
Tara Bridges scored 16 points, Krystal Hill 10 and Ambreka Peterson 10 to led Falkner, which jumped out to a 5-0 lead.
“I thought we started off kind of slow and kind of nervous,” McDonald said of the game’s first couple of minutes. “We finally got it to McIntosh who made a few (field) goals.
“It was a rough start the way it first started.”
Tonight, Houlka awaits the Potts Camp-Shaw outcome to see where and against whom it will be playing on Thursday in the North quarterfinals.
If Potts Camp wins, then the Lady Wildcats will travel to Potts Camp for the rest of the North Tournament. If the Lady Cardinals lose to Shaw, then the North tournament will conclude at Wheeler.