Belton might not be the favorite, but it will be confident.
After struggling to start the season, the Lady Tigers collected a big win and received an even bigger surge of momentum following an impressive showing against Copperas Cove in the District 8-5A opener last week. Using a second-half outburst, Belton cruised to a 52-40 road victory against the Lady Bulldawgs in the final game before beginning the holiday break.
With Christmas behind them, the Lady Tigers look to continue winning today during the opening games of the Lady Badger Holiday Tournament in Lampasas.
Belton head coach Brenda Gomez views the win against Copperas Cove as the ideal motivation for a strong showing at Lampasas.
“They finally realize, ‘OK, we can do this,’” she said. “That win should be big, and I think the break is great for them to go away and come back knowing we can do it.”
Prior to beating the Lady Bulldawgs, Belton had little to be excited about.
The Lady Tigers opened the season by losing 10 of their first 12 games, including three district contests. Aubrianna Garcia reversed the team’s fortunes with a stellar second-half performance against Cove.
The junior guard scored 13 of her game-high 19 points in the third quarter, making three of her four 3-pointers in the period, while adding a game-high five assists to go with a pair of rebounds and steals.
Garcia said the victory proved the Lady Tigers’ collective mentality is changing.
“We came out to show people Belton isn’t the old Belton,” she said. “Our mindset is right.”
Last year, the Lady Tigers were 7-21, going 3-11 in district to finish last in the standings. In the 2011-12 season, Belton finished 6-26 and went 2-12 in district in Gomez’s first season after inheriting a 9-25 (1-13 district) program.
The Lady Tigers (3-10, 1-3) play twice today, facing Early at 3:15 p.m. before encountering Corsicana at 6:45 p.m.
Playing in Pool 4, the Lady Tigers will open play Saturday at either 9 a.m. or 12:30 p.m. depending on how they finish with a second game following later in the afternoon.
Twelve teams are participating in the tournament, including the field’s highest-ranked contender Class 1A No. 6 Mason and Class 3A No. 11 Lorena.
Regardless of how the Lady Tigers perform this weekend, Gomez believes her team turned a corner.
“We’ve struggled with the mental part of the game,” she said. “Finally, (against Copperas Cove), we did what we should have done.”