LAMPASAS — For six quarters, Belton was in complete control.
Then, the Lady Tigers’ offense completely abandoned them.
On the heels of a surprising District 8-5A road victory at Copperas Cove last week, Belton appeared refreshed from the holiday break, cruising to a 43-point victory in its opening game at the Lady Badger Holiday Tournament on Friday.
Later in the afternoon, the Lady Tigers constructed a 13-point second-half advantage against Corsicana, but failed to convert a field goal during the final 13 minutes of the game and lost, spoiling their chances for a run at the tournament title.
Following the disappointing 34-28 loss, Belton head coach Brenda Gomez admitted her team lost its edge as the day went on.
“I felt like we weren’t as intense in the second game,” she said. “We had some turnovers
we should never have at this time of the year, and we couldn’t make a shot late … I just felt like we weren’t as aggressive defensively. We let them get to the basket pretty easily on the dribble, and we didn’t crash the boards on the offensive end.”
The Lady Tigers, who entered their pool-play finale on a two-game win streak after winning just two of their first 12 games, jumped out to a 12-5 lead against Corsicana, increasing their advantage to nine points, 23-14, entering halftime.
Emily Hugo added to Belton’s lead by hitting a pair of field goals, and with 5:40 remaining in the third quarter, the Lady Tigers were positioned atop a comfortable 13-point cushion, 27-14.
However they never added it to it.
Corsicana responded with 18 unanswered points before Aubrianna Garcia’s free throw with 45 seconds remaining in the game provided Belton with its only point of the fourth quarter. Garcia finished with a game-high 11 points.
“We weren’t making smart decisions,” Hugo said, “and we weren’t making good passes to people.”
The Lady Tigers (4-11) committed 13 of their 14 turnovers in the second half as Corsicana’s man-to-man defense suffocated opposing shooters.
“I think we are better shooters when we are wide open,” Belton senior guard Kinsey Williams said. “In the first game, they played a zone. It’s easy to shoot against that.”
Belton was never challenged in the opener against Early, scoring 20 of the game’s first 24 points and led 39-12 at halftime. Led by Garcia’s team-high 14 points, nine Lady Tigers scored at least six points in the victory, including Hugo and Emily Del Real, who each finished with 10 points.
The second-half collapse against Corsicana, however, caused Belton to finish second in its pool, sending it into the silver bracket, where it will open play against Class 3A No. 11 Lorena at 12:30 p.m. today. The winner advances to play the winner between Fredericksburg and Australian traveling team Keilor at 5:45 p.m., while the losers play at 4 p.m.
In order to be successful in bracket play, Gomez believes it will take a renewed attention to detail.
“We’ve got to come back to the basics,” she said. “We can’t worry about if the ball is going in the hole, but just make sure we play good defense and take care of the ball.”