Carlton, No. 23 Seven Lakes rout No. 2 Tompkins in 19-6A clash
KATY—Before Friday’s District 19-6A showdown against rival and No. 2 state-ranked Tompkins, Seven Lakes girls basketball coach Angela Spurlock had a chat with her star player, sophomore post Justice Carlton.
Spurlock emphasized to Carlton about letting the game come to her. Don’t try to do too much. Be quick, but don’t hurry. That type of stuff.
“Sometimes, great players push too hard, and sometimes our team has pushed too hard,” Spurlock said. “But we learned from that. Justice calmed herself and made sure she was prepared.”
Carlton, the No. 1 player in the state for the Class of 2024, was apparently born ready, scoring 19 first-quarter points and helping the No. 23 state-ranked Spartans upset the Falcons, 72-52, at Tompkins High.
Carlton finished with 36 points, 12 rebounds and four blocks as Seven Lakes improved to 24-4 overall, 4-0 in district. Tompkins, the defending back-to-back 19-6A champs, dropped just its second game of the season, falling to 26-2, 4-1.
It was Tompkins’ first district loss since Jan. 29, 2019, against Katy, a remarkable district winning streak of 30 consecutive games.
“It’s extremely important,” Carlton said. “Last year, we lost to them two or three times. This year, to come out and get this win, it just shows how much we’ve improved as a team. I feel like people were underestimating us and we came out and did what we had to do.”
Make that 15 early 1Q points for @THEspartanway7 sophomore post Justice Carlton. She is dominating. (Terrific ball movement, too). #txhshoops @KatyISDAthletic @SLHSABCpic.twitter.com/eL22MrCYES— Dennis Silva II (@Dennis Silva II) 1641603851
The 6-foot-2, 190-pound Carlton was exceptional from the tip. She was simply too powerful and agile, using her size to get easy buckets inside and her quickness to maneuver through harassing crowds of Falcons.
However, Carlton also showed off improved ballhandling, a solid dribble-drive game that makes her even more of an unfair matchup.
“She’s taken another level,” Spurlock said. “She’s facing the basket now. We played her a lot with her back to the basket last year. No one wants to be a post, but she honors that. As her game grows and as we continue to work with her, all of her talent, no matter where she is on the court, is starting to show.”
As deadly as her post game is, Carlton was just as tough when she caught the ball on the perimeter. She drove to the basket through traffic with ease, and once she got to the rim, it was easy pickings.
“I’m just a lot more confident,” Carlton said. “I lost a lot of weight over the summer. I definitely feel way better than I did last year. I’m going to keep working. I’m not done. I’m just a sophomore. I’ve still got two more years here, so I’m going to continue to work.”
Justice Carlton off the dribble. She\u2019s got 34 points. Absolute stud on the court. #txhshoops @THEspartanway7 @SLHSABCpic.twitter.com/WleJYhprXn— Dennis Silva II (@Dennis Silva II) 1641607011
As Carlton got off to the rapidly rabid start, leading Seven Lakes to a surprising double-digit lead rather quickly against a perennially relentless Tompkins defense, it opened things up for her teammates, like senior guard Summer Halphen, who scored 20 points and hit four of nine 3-pointers to go with six rebounds.
“She’s amazing,” said Halphen, who made big shot after big shot as the Falcons focused their defensive energy on Carlton. “Even though she’s younger than me, I still look up to her. Her confidence in me just brings my confidence up.”
Halphen was a difference-maker, particularly in the second half when she scored 11 of her points.
“Stay strong, don’t get down even when I missed shots," she said of her effort. “I kept my head up the whole time.”
Senior K.K. Tucker had nine points to go with four assists. Senior Aliyah Atiqi made four big free throws late as Tompkins desperately tried to storm back.
Seven Lakes made six of 14 3-pointers, making Tompkins pay whenever it sent an extra defender at Carlton.
“When we set the tone early, we tend to play really well,” Spurlock said. “The beauty of basketball is you need every player to step up in games like this. Teams with just one great player don’t win all the time. Our girls stepped up big tonight.”
Tompkins got within 41-32 early in the third quarter, thanks to a couple of big 3s from junior Macy Spencer, who led the Falcons with 17 points, four rebounds, four assists and three steals.
.@macyKS13 is all over this highlight. First, the diving hustle to get the steal. Then the deep 3. She\u2019s got 15 points, 4-8 from deep. #txhshoops @TompkinsGBB @OTHSABClubpic.twitter.com/jT2CTccCzm— Dennis Silva II (@Dennis Silva II) 1641605764
The Falcons drew some bright moments from sophomore Gabby Panter (13 points) and junior Fiyin Adeleye (six points, six rebounds), but not consistently enough to truly threaten Seven Lakes.
“We were ready,” Halphen said. “A win like this brings our confidence all the way up. We’re so proud of this win. We just have to keep working hard every day like we’ve been doing. Keep with our routines and stay strong.”
Seven Lakes and Tompkins play again Feb. 1 at Seven Lakes.