MESQUITE — Her team might have been undersized and inexperienced, but ShanDrea Yeldell kept making plays right up until the end.
The Hillcrest senior capped her decorated high school career with a game-high 21 points on Tuesday, even though the Lady Panthers were overmatched in a 76-40 playoff loss to Melissa.
Yeldell, who was one of the top scorers in the Dallas-Fort Worth area this season, made five 3-pointers and contributed five assists in the Class 4A Region II bi-district game — her finale as the only senior on the Hillcrest roster.
“She’s a leader on and off the floor. She will be missed,” said Hillcrest head coach Nikki Heath. “She’s unselfish and loves her teammates and what’s best for the program.”
The Lady Cardinals (22-12) raced to an early 15-2 lead and never looked back. Melissa extended the advantage with pinpoint perimeter shooting and pressure defense. The Lady Panthers (13-15) struggled to get clean shots, and committed 10 first-quarter turnovers.
The margin ballooned to 20 points late in the first quarter, and that was before Hillcrest made just one field goal during a 7-minute stretch before halftime. The Lady Cardinals led 41-16 at the break.
Jaydyn Bullard paced a balanced attack for Melissa with 15 points, with Wendy Clemmons contributing 11 points and six assists.
Jaida Sabour scored 12 points for the Lady Panthers, who closed the regular season with three straight victories to secure third place in District 12-4A. Freshman posts Leila Williams and Sandra Futwi combined for seven points and 17 rebounds.
Yeldell is the only Hillcrest player with postseason experience prior to Tuesday, having played in first-round losses to Seagoville in 2017 and 2018. That’s why Heath hopes Tuesday’s loss will pay dividends down the road.
“We’ll have a lot of experience coming back. They’ve already gotten better and they’ve bought into what we’re doing,” Heath said. “I’m really proud of them.”