COLLEGE STATION - The toughest foe that Pflugerville forward London Clarkson faced this week didn’t come on a double-team or from help-side defense.
Instead, the 6-foot-1 Florida State signee had to fight a flu bug that arrived in the same week as the playoffs. Based on her performance in Pflugerville’s 60-45 win over Waller in a Class 5A second-round playoff game Friday at A&M Consolidated High School, Clarkson treated the flu much like an undersized Waller defender.
“It’s been tough, but I’m feeling better,” said Clarkson, who scored eight of her 14 points in the first period and pulled down a game-high 15 rebounds. “My teammates helped me through everything.”
But Clarkson quickly pointed out that Pflugerville’s game plan didn’t focus on getting her the ball in the paint against a Waller team that didn’t have a player taller than 5-10.
“Our plan tonight was really all about defense,” she said. “We had to shut down No. 14. If we did that, we knew we had them.”
That No. 14 - Waller’s Laila Blair - certainly had the attention of Pflugerville coach April Hundl and the Panthers. The high-scoring guard did lead Waller with 13 points, but she made just six of 23 shots from the field against a wave of perimeter Panther defenders such as Kayla Sparks, Taylor Govan Williams and Destinee Magee. Blair boasts a deadly outside touch but couldn’t get off any clean three-point looks against Pflugerville.
“That was our game plan,” Hundl said. “We wanted to wear out their best player by face-guarding her the whole game. That 14 (Blair), she’s something special.”
But so is a deep and talented Pflugervile roster that wore down Waller. (27-8). The Panthers’ bench produced 15 points, seven rebounds, five assists and a plethora of big defensive plays. Govan Williams had 10 of those points along with five rebounds.
The two teams traded runs for most of the first half before back-to-back three-pointers from Sheridan Bostic and Magee helped give Pflugerville a 38-27 halftime lead.
Pflugerville (26-11) expanded that edge to 15 points early in the third period before Waller pulled within 44-36 with a 9-2 run, but a three-point play by Magee just before the end of the third period gave the Panthers a 47-36 lead. Pflugerville sealed the win by making six of eight foul shots in the final two minutes.
Clarkson made all six of her shots in the first half before Waller adjusted and began face-guarding the forward. Pflugerville then began to swing the ball around the perimeter and kept finding an open Bostic, who made four of seven three-pointers while scoring a team-high 17 points.
Pflugerville, ranked No. 13 in the latest Class 5A poll by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches, moves on to face No. 18 College Station in a Region III quarterfinal contest Tuesday at 6:30 p.m. at Midway High School south of Waco.