WEST — Shawnte’ Goff put on a show in the fourth quarter.
But in the end, the curtain came down on Copperas Cove’s season.
Trailing 63-49 with less than six minutes remaining in the game, the Lady Bulldawgs’ senior guard took control of the contest, scoring 11 of her team-high 19 points down the stretch to pull Copperas Cove within striking distance of Cedar Hill.
With 14.4 seconds remaining, Goff made the front end of a one-and-one to make it a one-point game, but missed the second. She received one more opportunity to complete the improbable comeback following a missed Lady Longhorns free throw, but her desperation heave at the buzzer was off target, and Cedar Hill escaped with a 69-68 victory in the bi-district round of the Class 5A playoffs.
Despite the outcome, Goff knew her team proved a point in defeat.
“We fight until the end, that is what we are known for,” Goff said. “No matter how bad the deficit is, we keep fighting until the end, until the last buzzer.”
Goff should have received an opportunity to redeem herself at the foul line, according to her coach.
Following Goff’s missed free throw, the Lady Bulldawgs intentionally fouled to preserve the clock, sending freshman Joyner Holmes to the foul line, where she missed on a one-and-one opportunity with 5.5 seconds remaining. Copperas Cove guard Mikayla Blount grabbed the rebound, delivered a pass to Goff along the right sideline, who, following a couple of dribbles, fired a deep 3-pointer from in front of the Lady Bulldawgs’ bench with defenders surrounding her, but there was no whistle.
“I swear on a stack of Bibles that was a foul,” Durham said, “but it doesn’t go your way sometimes.”
Copperas Cove (24-10) struggled all evening at the free-throw line, missing half its 22 attempts.
“We missed seven in the first half,” Durham said. “That has been a point of emphasis, but tonight we just didn’t hit them.”
The loss abruptly ended the program’s first playoff appearance since 2010, but it very easily could have gone the other way.
The Lady Longhorns scored 12 consecutive points to conclude the first quarter and held an 18-13 advantage to open the second quarter before taking a 39-35 lead into halftime. Cedar Hill’s cushion increased to 52-40 midway through the third quarter, and the Lady Longhorns owned a nine-point advantage, 58-49, by the end of the period.
Then, Goff, who was held scoreless in both the first and third quarters, caught fire, scoring six of her team’s first eight points, including a layup with three minutes remaining to make the score 65-59. Goff was forced out of the game, however, after cramps seized up her leg following the successful fastbreak.
She returned 27 seconds later and was on the court as teammate Brittany Gamble made consecutive baskets to trim Cedar Hill’s lead to four points, 67-63, with two minutes remaining in the game, but the Lady Longhorns (26-8) claimed a 69-63 advantage with 1:05 remaining on senior post Jada Terry’s basket. Terry finished with a game-high 23 points, including eight of Cedar Hill’s 11 fourth-quarter points.
With their backs against the wall, the Lady Bulldawgs produced a pair of turnovers during the ensuing 20 seconds with Blount and Goff each capitalizing, creating a 69-67 score. Cedar Hill continued to bobble away opportunities, but Copperas Cove could not score off the turnovers until Goff made a free throw to pull her team within a point, 69-68, setting up the wild conclusion to the Lady Bulldawgs’ season.
“Obviously, the score (was not in our favor), but who cares,” said Gamble, who finished with 13 points. “We played as a team and fought hard, and I wouldn’t pick another team.”
Copperas Cove post Bryaunea Hall contributed 13 points and nine rebounds, while Jasmin Johnson added 10 points, and Blount finished with eight points and nine rebounds.
“I was very proud of the kids,” Durham said. “That is who we want to be, and that is (the team) we worked to be every day.”