Saltillo moves on to face No. 1 Kennard in next round

By JOSEPH ELERSON | News-Telegram Sports Writer

Feb. 17, 2007 - GLADEWATER - The Saltillo Lady Lions advanced to the regional quarterfinals with a strong defensive effort in the second half of a 40-29 area round win over the Tenaha Lady Tigers Friday night at Bob Waters Gymnasium.

"I didn't think we played our 'A' game tonight. I told the girls after the game every night you are not going to have your 'A game, but our next game we are going to need that 'A' game," said Saltillo coach Garry Davison. "We play the No. 1 team in the state, and in the playoffs I will take a win any way that I can get it."

No. 11-ranked Saltillo (30-1) will face the No. 1-ranked and defending state champion Kennard Lady Tigers in the regional quarterfinals of the Class A, Div. II playoffs Wednesday night. The site and time are to be determined.

"We are going to show up and have fun," Davison said. "No one expects Saltillo to stay with them and they are the No. 1 team in the state. You never know, and if our kids can bring their 'A' game then I think we can beat them."

Senior Chloe Roberts led the Lady Lions with 14 points, four steals, three assists, one block and one rebound, while classmate Bekah Rogers added 13 points and three rebounds.

Tenaha came out aggressive from the opening tip with its full-court press as Marshay McClure scored the first five points on a 3-pointer and then an offensive putback before Saltillo could get its offense going.

Saltillo's Emily White then came back with four points on a free throw and a 3-pointer before Winter Stevens nailed a jumper to give Saltillo its first lead of the game at 6-5. Stevens finished with six points and a game-high 20 rebounds to go along with two steals and two assists.

"I thought Emily stepped up early. They jumped on us early, and Emily stepped up early with her offense on her 3-pointer and free throw. Bekah also played pretty well on offense in the second half," the coach said.

In the second quarter, McClure continued to hurt the Saltillo defense as she knifed her way through for an easy layup and a 14-10 lead midway through the period. McClure finished with 14 points to go along with five rebounds and two steals for the Lady Tigers.

Following a bucket by Stevens to give the Lady Lions their second lead of the quarter at 18-16, Tenaha's Jalisha Tutt scored an offensive putback to tie the game up at 18-18 heading into the intermission.

Davison said the halftime talk was positive, but the team still had a lot of work to do in the second half. The Lady Lions came out and outscored Tenaha 22-11 in the final two periods.

"It was simply that I didn't think that we could play much worse," he said. "With us being tied with them, I told the girls that I would take that against them because we are better than they are. I thought we were more patient in the second half."

The Lady Lions came out in the third quarter and scored the opening seven points to take a 25-18 lead on a jumper by Roberts, and old-fashioned 3-point play by Rogers and a fast break lay-up by Rogers off an assist from Stevens with 4:50 remaining.

Tenaha cut the deficit down to one with a 5-0 run of its own as Keandra Evans drained a jumper followed by a fast break lay-up by Tiffanie Fleming and a free throw for a 25-24 deficit.

With Saltillo up 30-26 heading into the final period, Roberts opened up the fourth quarter with a fast break lay-up off a Stevens assist and then what looked to be a stall game by Saltillo was actually a set play, according to Davison.

"We were trying to run our circle motion - which is a patient man offense - but they left their two big girls under the goal," Davison said. "We played only three of our girls and wanted them to come out and guard us, and then they started fouling at the end."

Saltillo shot 6-of-16 from the foul line in the fourth quarter and went 8-of-19 (42 percent) for the game compared to 5-of-7 (71 percent) for the Lady Tigers.

"That is the funny thing because this is the best free throw shooting team that I have had in the last four years," Davison said. "We are shooting over 61 percent for the year as a team and this was one of those nights that they just didn't go in for us."

The Lady Lions went 15-of-47 (32 percent) from the field while Tenaha went 11-of-54 (20 percent). Tenaha was 9-of-42 from inside 3-point range.

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