Gatesville desperately needed to win.
The Lady Hornets were only a game below .500 entering Friday’s District 8-3A opener at Lampasas, but their confidence was lacking.
Turnovers plagued the team at times throughout its nondistrict schedule as senior point guard Sarah Latham sat idly, recovering from a serious knee injury. Gatesville’s offense was inconsistent without a proven outside shooting threat, and the Lady Hornets’ defense was far from intimidating.
The final months of 2013 were a struggle.
A new year, however, may have delivered new hope to Gatesville.
In the first game of 2014, Latham made her long-awaited return to action, and the Lady Hornets demonstrated the ability to build a lead and withstand a comeback attempt, earning a narrow 34-33 victory against Lampasas.
Latham finished with a team-high 10 points, including a pair of 3-pointers, while the remainder of Gatesville’s roster produced a balanced scoring attack as four other Lady Hornets tallied at least four points in the win.
After holding the Lady Badgers to three points in the first quarter, Gatesville used a 15-point outburst in the second quarter to take a 23-13 lead into halftime.
Not everything went the Lady Hornets’ way, though.
Gatesville’s offense evaporated in the third quarter with Latham’s second 3-pointer accounting for the team’s lone field goal in the period, while the Lady Badgers began burrowing their way out of a double-digit hole.
With sophomore Nola Bishop scoring six of her game-high 15 points in the quarter, Lampasas cut its deficit in half and trailed 27-22 entering the final quarter.
Despite producing a seven-point fourth quarter after making just 4 of 8 free-throw attempts, Gatesville emerged victorious, evening its overall record at 9-9, but more importantly, earning a critical district win as it looks to return to the playoffs after missing out last season.
The Lady Hornets’ self-belief should be through the roof right now, but emotions can only carry this team so far. Gatesville must develop consistency to go along with its newfound confidence, and the only way to do that is continue its upward trend.
With road games against Burnet and Class 3A No. 22 Brownwood and home contests against Liberty Hill and Llano looming over the next two weeks, the Lady Hornets will be tested.
While it is unsure exactly how Gatesville will respond, the Lady Hornets are in a much better position than anybody expected them to be in at this point.