An arduous journey ends: Lady Lions fall in playoffs after breaking postseason drought
After breaking a 20-year playoff drought despite missing both their point guards for a significant portion of the season, one would think the basketball gods might have seen fit to give the Lockhart Lady Lions a slight reprieve headed into the postseason.
Nothing doing. The Lady Lions, who finished 3rd place in district 25-5A, drew the equivalent of an old Nintendo level boss in their return to the playoffs – Veterans Memorial, ranked No. 13 in the state for Class 5A.
Lockhart’s season came to an end in the bi-district round of the playoffs Monday night at Byron P. Steele High School at the hands of the Patriots, who advanced to the Area round with a 54-41 win over the Lady Lions.
But the final score didn’t tell the whole story. The Patriots stunned the Lady Lions in the first half, racing out to a 10-3 start en route to taking a 35-17 lead at halftime as seemingly every shot from a squad that boasts multiple six-footers fell from inside the paint, beyond the perimeter and at the charity stripe.
Overcoming adversity had been the theme nearly all season for the Lady Lions, and the second half was no exception. Lockhart stormed back in the second half, closing the gap to as few as nine points at one point, as senior Sydney Shaw and junior Kallie Krenz each scored 16 points to keep hope alive for the Lady Lions.
Head coach Dennis Helms said the game punctuated a season of navigating steep obstacles and making improvements.
“We certainly overcame adversity,” Helms said. “We played a month without the guards. Shaw was everything. The point guard, the offense, etcetera. Other girls were fighting but we were depending on her to get the ball down the floor.
“This is only the third game we lost in the new year. From where we were and where we went … we could have left at halftime and went home after that spurt in the second quarter, but we didn’t. We fought. I couldn’t have been prouder of them.”
Helms said he was pleased with the effort in the third and fourth quarter, but said he believed the Patriots had benefited from playing a tougher district schedule.
“We got a little bit tougher,” Helms said. “I think this is one of the things when you play in a league, week in and week out, with tough opponents, you learn to get tougher. Them, they’re playing Kerrville Tivy, Boerne Champion, and teams like that.
“I think they’ve got a great team, but I’m proud of our girls.”
Sahara Jones powered Veterans Memorial in the first half, scoring more points (21) in two quarters than the entire Lady Lions squad, which was kept afloat with 13 first-half points by Krenz and four from Shaw.
In the second half, the Lady Lions toughened up on defense and held Jones to just six points. Shaw came alive, scoring 12 points, including a pair of three pointers.
Other Lady Lions getting on the scoreboard included Sophia Miller with 4 points, Anna Henderson and Faith Herman with two each, and Yasmyne Mackey with 1 point.