LINDALE — It was a case of the same song, different verse for the No. 4 state-ranked Saltillo Lady Lions Friday in their meeting with the Slocum Lady Mustangs.
The Lady Mustangs took the Class 1A Division II Area basketball title home from Lindale High School in a 39-35 final second rally.
The Lady Lions have made the playoffs 15 times over the last 19 years under head coach Garry Davison. Even with the impressive experience in postseason round ball action, the competitiveness of the game seemed to wear on the Saltillo team comprised mainly of underclassmen.
“We played to our age against Slocum. We started one freshman, two sophomores, a junior and a freshman,” Davison explained. “We had a lead late and could not hold it. On our last five possessions we had four turnovers and a missed one-and-one free throw. You can’t win doing that against a good team. Give Slocum the credit, they made the plays and we didn’t.” As the fourth quarter began the game clock was set in Saltillo's favor 30-27, the Lady Lions put on an extended pass play with the pick and roll that kept the ball on Saltillo's end of the court for over two minutes. With just 3:16 left on the clock, a ball fake slid the ball out-of-bounds near the corner and back into Slocum's hands to tie the game 30-all.
After a time out stops action, Slocum's center post player got fouled to take a one-point lead. Senior Lady Lion Emily White drove back down to Saltillo's bucket to add on two.
The noise level rose in a packed on both sides gym (Saltillo's game was the first of a double header). Saltillo's sophomore Brooke Lane started to show wear and tossed up a miscued shot. Fans on both sides came to their feet. Slocum's center Thomason pulled down the rebound, and the game moved back to Lady 'Stangs favor 35-34.
Saltillo got a blocking call on Wickenham with both teams in bonus, Slocum swished both from the foul line. After another time out, the game laid in Slocum's favor 36-35. With just 28.8 seconds to the buzzer, White ran into Slocum player, and Slocum returned to foul Lady Lion Brooke Lane. White sacrificed several dives and fouls to stop any drive Slocum could make.
With 15.7 remaining, Slocum had a gained a one-point lead. Saltillo miscue led to an out-of-bounds ball. Lady 'Stang Webb is fouled again by White. Slocum sank second foul shot. The clock continued to tick. With just 1.1 seconds left, Saltillo needed a 3-pointer to win. With the game on the line Slocum is fouled again and compete their buckets to clinch the 39-35 win and ticket to advancement in playoffs.
In the third quarter, Slocum got the scoring started on a 3-point swish by Martin. Saltillo tried to answer back but failed. Slocum succeeded again from top-of-key by Webb. Back on Saltillo's end, Lane pulled down rebound off a missed shot by teammate junior Candace Prather, and got the putback to tie 13-all. Even with back and forth scoring, Saltillo allowed too many opportunities for open plays for the goal. Slocum held the ball in their end and burned the clock.
In the first half of play, foul plays sent the crowd into roars. Lane took to lane for lay-up to increase Saltillo's lead to 11-7. Saltillo saw scoring from White, Lane, Erika Mobley and Kimber Thompson.
“We let game get away from us, I am disappointed,” Davison said. “But to finish 27-3 is respectable. I am so proud of the girls, they worked so hard to keep getting better. We’ve a young team, we have a good group to build around for next year.”
Slocum--Martin 5 (one 3-pointer), Webb 7 (one 3-pointer), Stephens 8, Bishop 2, O'Dell 5, Thomason 12.
Saltillo--Candace Prather 1, Emily White 7, Brooke Lane 19, Erika Mobley 2, Kimber Thompson 6.
Season ends, Saltillo 27-3.
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