Heartbreak X 2: Kennard ends Saltillo's season again

By BOBBY "BUTCH" BURNEY, News-Telegram Sports Editor

Feb. 20, 2008 - KILGORE - It wasn't exactly the same ending as last year, but it was way too similar for the Saltillo Lady Lions.

Kennard's Erica Adair converted a conventional 3-point play with 10 seconds to play to give the Lady Tigers a two-point lead, and then a last-second shot by Saltillo to tie the game came up short as the Lady Lions lost another heartbreaker to Kennard, 47-45, Tuesday at Kilgore College.

It was the second year in a row that Kennard ended Saltillo's season with a one-shot victory in the Class A, Div. II regional quarterfinals.

It was a re-match of the region's most highly-ranked teams as Saltillo (29-4) was No. 1 and Kennard (28-5) was No. 6. The game lived up to its billing.

Saltillo was down by eight points (39-31) entering the fourth quarter, but held Kennard without a field goal for six minutes. In that time, Saltillo chipped at the deficit until finally taking the lead at 45-44 with 35 seconds remaining when senior Stephanie Methe took a lob pass from freshman Brooke Lane and flipped in a one-hander from the left baseline.

Kennard advanced the ball into the front court before Adair was fouled with 16 seconds left, sending her to the free throw line for a one-and-one. She missed the front end, and the rebound was grabbed by Methe, who was immediately fouled.

Saltillo then had to in-bound the ball at the baseline, but the pass was stolen by Kennard's Ariel Mumphrey, who shoveled it to Adair. Adair missed her shot, but got the offensive rebound, put it back in and was fouled with 10 seconds left. She made the free throw to put Kennard on top, 47-45.

Saltillo got the ball down court, but Kennard tipped it out of bounds with 3.8 seconds remaining. Lane triggered the in-bound pass and found Winter Johnson at the right foul line extended. Johnson took a dribble left and fired a straight-away 15-footer. But, the ball hit the front of the rim, bounced back and was rebounded by Kennard as time expired.

Johnson finished with a team-high 13 points and 12 rebounds for Saltillo, while Methe had 12 points and seven boards.

It was a stomach-turning loss for Saltillo, which had wanted to get revenge on Kennard for last year.

It appeared they would starting off the third quarter, when they broke a 25-25 halftime tie by scoring the first six points of the period. But, the Lady Lions then went the final 6 1/2 minutes of the period without a point as Kennard took a 39-31 lead into the final period.

It was a run at the end of the third period that got Adair going for Kennard. She scored eight points in the period, including six in the final 2:30, to finish with 16 points, five rebounds and three steals. Teammate Felicia Skinner had a game-high 19 points to go with 11 rebounds and three steals.

Adair and Skinner combined to make 11-of-13 free throws and Kennard overall hit 16-of-19. Saltillo struggled at the line, making just 5-of-11.

In the first period, the Lady Lions got six points from Johnson and a 3-pointer each from Lane and Emily White. Lane finished with six points and six assists, while White had five points before fouling out.

Lane hit another 3-pointer in the second quarter and freshman Kimber Thompson came off the bench to provide some points in the paint. Thompson finished with seven points and five rebounds.

Kennard advances to the Region III Tournament at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches. The Lady Lions will be trying to advance to the state tournament for the third consecutive season.

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