|Saltillo Lady Lions make first round exit in Class A playoffs|
|Joseph Elerson | News-Telegram Sports Writer|
Feb. 16, 2005 - PATTONVILLE - After a three-year absence in postseason play, the Saltillo Lady Lions made a first-round exit in the 2005 state playoffs.
The Lady Lions (25-6) shot 25.5 percent (14-of-55) for the game and had three quarters in single digits as the Ector Lady Eagles pulled out a 39-32 Class A bi-district victory at Prairiland High School Tuesday night.
"We talked about it coming over here that if we didn't score 40 points, we probably weren't going to win the game," Saltillo head coach Garry Davison said.
"Basketball is a cruel game and tonight it was cruel for our kids because they worked so hard and they got good looks, but it just wasn't going in for them."
Saltillo took an 8-3 lead with 3:41 remaining in the first quarter behind strong play from senior Kassie Tully, who scored six points in her final game as a Lady Lion.
The Lady Lions opened up the second quarter on a 7-0 run and got the score to 17-12 when Cassie Hailey drained a 3-pointer. Hailey finished her senior campaign with a double-double performance of 11 points and 15 rebounds.
Tully, Hailey and Jenny Prather played their final game for Saltillo and Davison said those three players were the reason the team went 25-6 this season and that they will always have a special place at Saltillo.
"The saddest thing for me is that I lose three quality kids because they won't be able to suit up at Saltillo again, but they will be Lady Lions for life. Their legacy is that they came to practice every day with a purpose and wanted to be in the playoffs," Davison said. "They came out and worked hard everyday and showed the younger players what to do and that is why we were 25-6 because it had nothing to do with coaching but with the way those seniors dealt with their leadership, and I am so proud of them."
Saltillo held a 26-22 lead heading into the final quarter as both teams combined for only 11 points in the third quarter of play.
Winter Stevens scored four of the Lady Lion' seven points and gave them a 26-20 lead with 1:25 remaining in the third.
In the final period, Ector guard Kayla Redden took over the game scoring 13 points, but most importantly gave them a 29-28 lead with six minutes remaining with a double-double performance of 21 points on seven-of-15 shooting and 10 boards.
Davison said Lauren Copeland and Jessica Gilbreath played well for the Lady Lions off the bench as two of his players were dealing with sickness during the game.
"I thought my kids off the bench gave us a spark. Especially Lauren and Jessica had to play well because of the sickness that I had on the team tonight," the coach said.
Gilbreath scored six points for Saltillo with two 3-pointers, while Copeland had one steal for the Lady Lions. Stevens wrapped up her freshman season with eight points, five rebounds, two steals and two assists.
Lady Eagle Kayla Hopkins had 15 points, three rebounds and four steals as only four players scored for Ector on the night.
"It is really hard for the underclassman because we thought we could win our district and have the No. 1 seed and let the kids see more of the playoffs. I am disappointed because I thought we were a pretty good team this year," Davison said.
"We have not been in the playoffs in three years, and I was extremely proud of the kids for going 25-6 this season. I told the younger kids that they need to work during the offseason and that they can make next year the same way as this year."