In the opening minutes, the Huntsville girls played exactly the way they needed to.
Having top-ranked Beaumont Ozen on the ropes in the early going, the Lady Hornets knew that they had an upset brewing. It was just too early to peak against the undefeated Lady Panthers.
A victory and a third straight trip to the Region III tournament wasn’t in the cards as the Lady Hornets, despite holding a 23-point advantage, could not keep Ozen down for long and fell in Tuesday’s regional quarterfinals 70-61.
“It was ours, but we gave up,” junior Maya Perry said. “We really could have beat this team. If we would have kept up our momentum, we probably could have beat them.”
As soon as the game began, the Lady Hornets looked like a team on a mission. Whether it was on offense or defense, Huntsville was clicking on all cylinders.
Immediately after Huntsville won the opening tip, Perry, who scored a team-high 21 points, kick-started the Lady Hornets with a swish from 3-point range. Once Ozen, which improved to 33-0, countered with a layup by junior Sanquiesha Rawls, Huntsville went on a tear.
Getting turnovers off of their full-court press, Huntsville was able to score quick buckets.
Lady Hornets senior post Breanna Fuller converted a pair of layups near the hoop. Fellow senior Daquayla Terry then made a layup off a fast break and Perry drilled another trey.
Just like that, Huntsville had taken a 12-2 advantage.
But the Lady Hornets weren’t done.
Huntsville scored the next eight points, including a fadeaway jumper by senior Ceidra Coleman that capped the Lady Hornets’ 17-0 run that gave them a 20-2 lead.
The run continued as Huntsville scored eight of the next 11 points, including a third 3-pointer by Perry, to jump ahead 28-5.
Anything that could’ve gone Hunstville’s way did, at least in the first 5 1/2 minutes.
“We wanted to keep our pressure up, but we didn’t bring the trap like we normally do. Things started off pretty good,” Lady Hornets coach Jay Oliphant said.
Then everything started going downhill.
After a couple of timeouts to talk things over, Ozen straightened its game out and fast.
The Lady Panthers’ guards split Huntsville’s defense and made their way to the basket, and eventually to the free-throw line.
In the final 2 1/2 minutes of the first period, Ozen scored 15 unanswered points to claw to within single digits.
“We were just turning it over,” Perry said.
In the second quarter, it didn’t get much better as the Lady Hornets started to get into foul trouble. Coleman already had two fouls in the first, but both Fuller and sophomore guard Demi Turner each picked up foul No. 2 early in the second. Then, midway through the quarter, Coleman picked up her third foul.
Due to the foul trouble that several Lady Hornets were in, Huntsville had to rely on its backups, but couldn’t get much production and much-needed separation.
The Lady Hornets managed to match bucket for bucket with Ozen, but the Lady Panthers stepped on the accelerator late in the second. Ozen took advantage of Huntsville turnovers and closed out the second quarter on a 17-4 run to take a 41-40 lead — their first of the game — at the break.
“We also had girls get into foul trouble, which is always big,” Oliphant said. “The girls that came in, my reserves didn’t do too well tonight. I thought we were going to be able to go into halftime with the lead, but with turnovers and miscues, we didn’t.”
At the onset of the third, the Lady Hornets came out blazing. Through the first four minutes of the period, Huntsville’s defense clamped down on Ozen, which provided an opening for the Lady Hornets. Huntsville retook the lead early in the third on a layup by Perry and stretched its lead to 48-43 to seemingly take firm hold of the momentum once again.
But it didn’t last.
Thanks to layups by Breona Sylvester, Bealoved Brown and Asia Booker, Ozen grabbed a 52-48 lead with 2:42 to go in the third.
The Lady Hornets had a prime opportunity to knot the game at 52, but Fuller and Coleman fired blanks at the free-throw line.
“I tell these girls a lot of times that in these games, you need to stop the bleeding,” Oliphant said. “If you get to the free-throw line and make those free throws, that stops it. We weren’t able to do that and the outcome is what it is.”
Ozen closed out the final two minutes on a 9-1 run to take a 12-point lead into the final quarter.
“They came out and pressed us and for some reason, that gave us some problems tonight. Give credit to them. They forced turnovers,” Oliphant said.
No matter how hard they tried, the Lady Hornets couldn’t really cut into the deficit that much in the fourth, only getting to within nine points on several occasions.
The Lady Panthers move on to the Region III semifinals where they’ll face Manvel, which defeated Houston Wheatley 79-47 in Tuesday’s regional quarterfinal contest.
Lady Hornets build 23-point lead in first quarter, but state’s top-ranked 4A team keeps its cool, rallies for win
In the opening minutes, the Huntsville girls played exactly the way they needed to.
BEARKATS FOOTBALL: The one that got away
It was there for the taking.
Sam Houston State was less than a minute away from surviving a slugfest with fourth-seeded Southeastern Louisiana and possibly hosting a quarterfinal matchup against New Hampshire this week.
All the Bearkats needed to do was keep the Lions from getting into the end zone and they’d notch another playoff victory.
Lions make ‘big plays’ down stretch, Kats don’t
Same scene, same result.
The Bearkats played a much closer game in their second matchup in three weeks against Southeastern Louisiana, but they still watched a two-score first-half lead turn into a deficit. At one point, the Kats led 21-10, just as they had before losing to the Lions on Nov. 16.
BEARKATS FOOTBALL — Bigger prize at stake this time
The Bearkats have a second chance to make a lasting impression.
After blasting Southern Utah 51-20 in the opening round of the FCS playoffs last week, Sam Houston State will face fourth-seeded Southeastern Louisiana for the second time this season in Hammond, La., in tonight’s second-round showdown.
Huntsville headed to Class 5A next year
Don’t freak out, sports fans. The Huntsville Hornets are moving up to Class 5A again, but it’s the new 5A, not the old one.
The University Interscholastic League is adding a conference 6A to its athletics alignment starting next fall, so the new 5A will look much like the current Class 4A. The enrollment numbers for both are nearly identical, which means Huntsville still will be competing with schools like Brenham, Willis and Magnolia, not The Woodlands, Conroe, Klein Forest and Oak Ridge.
BEARKAT FOOTBALL — Eager for another shot
Among the final 16 teams left in contention for an FCS national championship, it doesn’t take much to get a team fired up at this point in the season.
Saturday’s contest isn’t just any ordinary second-round playoff game for the Bearkats. The matchup against No. 4 seed Southeastern Louisiana will be a rematch from their Southland Conference clash three weeks ago in which the Lions prevailed 34-21.
The Kats can hardly wait to get it going.
SCHALLENBERG: Just getting warmed up
Heading into the second round of the playoffs, the Bearkats are getting healthier, especially running back Timothy Flanders, and remain focused on task at hand of returning to Frisco for another shot at an FCS national championship.
FCS PLAYOFFS: Bearkats keep chugging, win 51-20
Get ready for Sam Houston State-Southeastern Louisiana II.
Like they’ve done during the playoffs over the previous two seasons, the Bearkats made short work of a squad from the Big Sky Conference on Saturday afternoon in the first-round Football Championship Subdivision playoff game.
Bearkats get more physical in first round of playoffs
Sam Houston State head coach Willie Fritz challenged the Bearkats last week to be more physical.
In the two games leading up to Saturday’s first-round Football Championship Subdivision playoff win over Southern Utah, Fritz said the Bearkats had not been combative enough.
BEARKAT GAMEDAY — Feeding Frenzy
Throughout the season, the Bearkats made a habit of taking advantage of opposing teams’ mistakes. Sam Houston State’s defense often was rewarded by those miscues, which meant it was time for some fun. Whether it was after a big hit, defensive stop, interception, fumble recovery as well as a defensive score, the defense began gesturing a shark fin on their helmets and the Kats have fed off the newfound energy.
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