ZACHARY — Bryana Langford took the challenge personally. Zachary coach Tami McClure wanted rebounds, and Langford got them.
The senior pulled down a game-high 15 rebounds, including 12 in the second half, to go along with 20 points to power Zachary past Walker 66-55 in a District 4-5A girls game at ZHS on Friday night.
“Over the last few games, rebounding has been tough for us,” Langford said. “I knew it would be hard for me, but I also knew I had to do it.”
The battle on the boards was a key part of the story in the pivotal 4-5A game. Both McClure and Walker coach Korey Arnold implored their teams to win the rebounding war of wills.
Another major factor was turnovers. The Lady Cats (25-6, 3-1) turned the ball over nine times in the first quarter and fell behind by double digits. Walker cut the Broncos lead to four points in the second quarter but never got any closer.
Rayah Haynes scored a team-high 25 points for Zachary (20-8, 3-0). Walker’s Candace Ellis led all scorers with 29, including 13 points in the fourth quarter. Breanna Zeringue added 15 for WHS.
“At the beginning of the season we were strong on the glass, but lately we’ve been soft,” McClure said. “She (Langford) brings a lot to the game with her length and her court sense.”
Zachary galloped out of the gate. The Broncos led 12-2 midway through the first quarter. Haynes scored seven points to help ZHS build a 13-point lead. Walker scored the final six points, including a jumper from the top of the key by Raven Barze just before the buzzer.
Zeringue and Ellis combined for 17 second-quarter points. Ellis scored on a layup and made a free threw to get Walker within four points at 26-22, with 3:01 left in the half. But the Broncos went on a 13-7 run and led 39-29 at halftime.
“We talked about putting a body on a body and we didn’t do that,” Arnold said. “They were taking not-so-smart shots, but we were giving them two or three shots. If we limit them to one shot, maybe we’re in overtime now.”
Haynes said a fast start was imperative for Zachary.
“We had it on our minds,” Haynes said. “This is district, and we knew we had to work hard from the start.”
Walker chopped the Zachary lead to seven points twice in the third quarter, once on a 3-pointer by Barze and again on a putback by Zeringue that made it 43-36 with 2:13 to go.
Three Langford baskets helped Zachary extend its lead to 55-42 going into the fourth quarter. Haynes had a steal and layup to push the Broncos lead to 15 points 20 seconds into the final quarter. Walker got no closer than nine points after that.