LAMPASAS — The focus was not there to start.
Lady Badgers head coach Jenny Bowden admitted her players were overly giddy to begin the night.
“‘Oh my gosh, Coach, did you hear their accents,’” she mimicked. “Sometimes my players don’t worry so much about the basketball side. Then, when we got out there and saw their height, we panicked.”
Lampasas was slightly mesmerized by its foreign foes before the opening tip Wednesday, but after adjusting to circumstance and to their opponent’s size, the Lady Badgers altered their style, found their rhythm and coasted to a 43-32 victory against Australian traveling team Blackburn.
“Once we calmed down and relaxed, then we played like we know how to play,” Bowden said. “It wasn’t our best game, but it was a good win to get us going forward.”
The Lady Vikings led 9-6 following the first quarter, and the deficit increased to six points, 12-6, early in the second quarter, but Lampasas responded by scoring 10 unanswered points, including a pair of field goals from both Stacie Olivarez and Qadrey Tolliver.
Moments later, Blackburn produced five consecutive points to reclaim a slim advantage at 17-16, but it would prove to be the Lady Vikings final lead of the game.
Alexis Theus’ basket in the paint reclaimed the lead for Lampasas, and Olivarez connected on a long jumper, giving the Lady Badgers a 20-17 halftime cushion.
With sophomore guard Nola Bishop posting four of her team-high nine points in the third quarter, the Lady Badgers pushed their lead to 34-25 entering the fourth quarter. As a team, Lampasas (8-6) made six of its 11 field-goal attempts in the period.
Once again, the Lady Vikings constructed a run, pulling with three points, 34-31, after scoring six consecutive points, but Lampasas dominated the final three minutes of the game.
Theus grabbed an offensive rebound off a missed free throw and her subsequent putback gave the Lady Badgers a 37-31 lead, sparking an 8-1 run to conclude the game.
Theus finished with eight points to go with a game-high eight rebounds.
“She does a good job, but she’s young, so there’s still some things she needs to work on,” Bowden said of her freshman post. “But overall, she understands the game, and I think she could be a big asset for us.”
Led by Bishop, five Lady Badgers produced at least five points in the win, including Olivarez and Tolliver, who each finished with six points.
Lampasas is idle until hosting its annual tournament the weekend after Christmas and concludes its nondistrict schedule at Crawford before opening District 8-3A play against Gatesville on Jan. 3.
Bowden believes the final push before district will say a lot about her team.
“We have to have a really good tournament,” she said. “We’ve got some good teams coming, but all I ask of the girls is to get better every single day we step on the floor and keep working on our style of basketball. We’ve got to keep working on us coming together as a team.”
Contact Clay Whittington at email@example.com