BELTON — Take a four-point loss to Waco Midway, two losses to Harker Heights by six or less points and a five-point loss to Ellison the first round of district. Combine those with Tuesday night’s 40-36 loss to No. 16 Ellison in the regular-season finale and they equal the Belton Lady Tigers’ season in a nutshell: Close but unable to finish.
The Lady Tigers (16-18, 5-9) entered Tuesday’s contest needing a win and some help just to have a possible play-in game to make the playoffs. Midway’s 44-35 win over San Angelo Central gave Belton the help it needed, but a turnover-plagued third quarter proved costly and Belton finished District 8-6A in fifth place.
But the Lady Tigers had their chances, leading 36-35 with 2:47 to play after Natasha Blizzard drained a 3-pointer a from the right corner.
However, that was the last lead they had.
After an exchange of possessions, Ellison’s Alina Simon drew a foul and made two free throws, giving Ellison a 37-36 lead with 1:23 to play, and the teams exchanged turnovers and missed shots over the next minute of play.
Belton then had to send Ellison (23-8, 13-1) to the free throw line, and Daja Planas made one of two for a 38-36 lead with 13.4 seconds to play.
Belton, after a timeout, set up Abby Harrison for a 3-pointer from the right corner. Harrison was bumped as she shot, and Ellison secured the rebound and made two free throws to ice to the game and clinch the outright district championship.
The Lady Tigers rallied from a six-point deficit early in the second quarter to take a 20-18 lead into the half.
Elisa Priddy drove in traffic and hit a layup at the buzzer to cap an 8-3 Belton run to close out the half, which was highlighted by an 3-pointer by Taylin Wesley that tied the game at 16.
But the Lady Tigers struggled in the third, committing seven turnovers, and trailed 30-26 after to start the fourth quarter and 33-26 after Planas hit a 3 to open the final period.
Belton went on a 7-0 run to tie it and, after Ellison’s Cielo McClain hit an inside shot for a 35-33 lead, Blizzard, who led the Lady Tigers with 11 points, hit the 3 to set up the finish.
TUESDAY'S DISTRICT 8-6A GIRLS
- Copperas Cove 51, Killeen 48
- Ellison 40, Belton 36
- Harker Heights 55, Shoemaker 52
- Waco Midway 44, San Angelo Central 35
End of Regular Season