SALADO — Salado coach Diane Konarik knew fatigue might be a factor in the Lady Eagles’ Thursday afternoon tilt against Snook.
Hours earlier, Salado opened play in the Coach Smith Tournament with a win against a scrappy Lampasas team.
Just as Konarik predicted, her Lady Eagles needed a spark against Snook, and they found it in Carmella Perez.
Perez was key off the bench in helping Salado survive 36-34 in a game that came down to the final seconds.
“She’s a ball of fire when she comes off,” Konarik said of Perez. “She’s going to go at you any way possible.”
Perez, who finished with six points, also had the dish to Jaylee Sebek for a
32-26 lead before Snook mounted one last rally.
Down 36-34 and possessing the ball after an offensive foul against Salado, Snook advanced into the frontcourt and called timeout with 9.9 seconds to play.
But the Lady Blue Jays didn’t get off a shot as point guard Patricia Bowie fielded the inbound pass then watched it go through the hands of Emily Lewis and out of bounds.
“That was so relieving because I was definitely worried because they’re a good team,” said Ashley Adams, who led Salado in scoring. “They’re really tough, really competitive just like we were.”
Adams led Salado with a game-high 15 points and four assists and was particularly vital in keeping Salado in the game when its shots weren’t falling in the first half.
The Lady Eagles went into halftime clinging to a 15-14 lead.
“It’s frustrating,” Perez said of the start, “but we’ve just got to keep shooting and keep going for it because we know we can.”
The start of the second half wasn’t any easier as Salado didn’t make a field goal until Adams banked in a jumper to tie it at 18 at the 4:59 mark. In the final minute of the quarter, a Perez driving layup followed by an Adams steal and layup put Salado up 24-20, a lead it never relinquished.
And as difficult as the two-game day was for the Lady Eagles, it was a sacrifice they’d gladly make again in order to reach the championship game of their host tournament this weekend.
“We really want to make it to the championship because it’s tough to lose at your own tournament,” Adams said. “We don’t want that happening.”