LAQUEY - Coming off a 2-21 season a year ago, a young Plato Eagles team got the 2011-2012 season off on the right foot as they ran away with the play-in game of the Frisco League girls' basketball tournament.
Plato, the ninth-seeded team, defeated eighth-seeded Stoutland, 61-35, on Saturday at Laquey High School.
Freshmen Kaylea Kimrey and Lexi McNiel combined to score 24 points, sophomore post player Katie Roy added 15 and senior guard Kendra Crewse scored 14 to lead the Eagles.
Playing their first game for new head coach Alicia Burrows, the Tigers struggled early in the contest with Plato's pressure defense, 8-2 in the opening minutes as Plato knocked down five of its first six field goal attempts.
"There were some first game jitters and they didn't really know what to expect - how I was going to coach them and how it was going to go," Burrows said.
After a slow start, Stoutland (1-0) pulled within eight points (31-24) midway through the third quarter thanks to back-to-back baskets by Haley Becker and a 3-pointer by Alicia Willard.
"We had some real good pressure and our traps worked well there for a little bit," Burrows said. "We were able to get some quick steals and keep their hands off the ball."
The Tigers trailed early in the first quarter 8-2, and were behind with 2:50 remaining in the first half 27-9 as Plato reeled off a 13-2 run to open the second quarter.
But as quickly as the Tigers were able to narrow the margin in the third, the Eagles pulled away.
The Tigers followed Willard's 3-pointer, which made the score 31-24, with four straight turnovers and Plato expanded its lead to 41-24 before a basket by junior Brittney Allee slowed the bleeding.
The Eagles ended the third on a 12-2 run and went to the fourth quarter leading 43-26.
"Turnovers absolutely hurt us," Burrows said. "When we were down by (eight) I thought we were right in it, then we made a few turnovers and they (Plato) hit their lay-ups and that helped them stay ahead of us the whole time."
Crewse and Kimrey teamed to score the Eagles first 10 points of the final frame and the Eagles built a 53-34 lead, then Roy, a 6-foot sophomore post player, capped the scoring by scoring six points in the final 1:44 of play.
Allee led the Tigers with 11 points, including Stoutland's first four points of the game. Willard, a freshman, came off the bench to score eight points, including two 3-pointers, and Haley Becker added six points.
"Both the freshmen played well, as did Allee," Burrows said. "She hit a couple big shots for us and kept us in it in the first half.
"(Willard) did a good job of handling the ball and Megan (Birdsong) hit a big 3 for us."
Stoutland will next play the loser of second-seeded Laquey and seventh-seeded Iberia at 5 p.m. on Wednesday in the consolation bracket.