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Playing their first game in District 16-5A, the Huntsville girls basketball team continued a winning tradition.

The Lady Hornets, who went 33-1 in District 20-5A over the past two seasons, began play in their new league on Tuesday night with a 53-38 home win over Tyler.

Kenysha Johnson led Huntsville with 13 points, while Aliyah Craft and Alyssa Fielder also scored in double figures with 12 and 11 points, respectively. It was the Lady Hornets’ tenacity on defense, however, that helped seal the victory.

“We normally run a series of things defensively, just to see how their coach is going to adjust,” Huntsville head coach LaToya Bennett said. “After halftime, we had to come out in man-to-man and just put pressure on the ball. I think my girls did a great job of capitalizing on the other team's mistakes and doing what we needed to do to get this win.”

Huntsville jumped out to a seven-point lead in the opening minutes, but Tyler fought back to close the gap to 33-31 by the start of the fourth quarter. The Lady Hornets forced a flurry of turnovers down the stretch, however, and out-scored their opponent 20-7 the rest of the way.

“We're a young team, and having a lot of new faces coming into district for the first time, those young kids struggled,” Bennett added. “I think nerves played a huge part in what we normally do on the offensive end, but once we were able to settle down at halftime, we were able to do our job in the fourth quarter and get the win.”

While Tuesday night marked the Lady Hornets’ first test in their new league, Bennett can already tell that District 16 is set to provide her team with a new level of competition. Next up is a showdown at Lufkin — last season’s runner-up and an undefeated league champion the year before — on Friday night.

“It's going to be grimy — at home, and away,” Bennett said. “We're going to have to take care of the basketball and do the small things to make sure we get the win.”

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