GATESVILLE — Kaity Eudy always wants to deliver for her team. Friday, she had to.
Coming off its first District 17-4A loss, Class 4A No. 8 Gatesville entered the fourth quarter trailing visiting Robinson 30-27.
Needing every point possible to avoid consecutive defeats for the first time this season, the Hornets’ senior guard produced when it mattered most.
Eudy tallied all four of her points in the final period, making 4 of 6 free throw attempts, including two in the last 40 seconds of the game, helping secure a 42-41 victory.
Following the win, Eudy admitted she was simply happy to contribute.
“I knew I had to step up for the team,” she said, “because we really needed those free throws. Looking back on it, if I had missed those, it would have been the game, but we work on free throws a lot, and it paid off.
“And it is just an amazing feeling to know that I helped my team win, even if it is just by making a couple free throws.”
But Eudy was not the only one to make a critical shot late.
After Eudy tied the game 32-32 with 3 minutes, 28 seconds remaining in regulation, she found teammate
Alayna Washington for a go-ahead layup, giving Gatesville (27-2, 7-1) its first lead since falling behind 30-24 in the third quarter.
Moments later, Hornets junior post Allaira Jones’ baseline drive snapped a 34-34 tie, and the two-point cushion remained until Rebekah Nolte made a pair of free throws with 63 second remaining.
The Lady Rockets responded, cutting the deficit to two points or less on two occasions, but Eudy hit a free throw after each shot to extend the lead before Nolte’s free throws with 7.45 seconds left widened the gap to 42-38.
Like Eudy, Nolte, who scored a game-high tying 18 points, including a 4-of-7 showing from behind the 3-point arc, felt pressure but thrived in it.
“You just have to block everything out,” the junior said of her fourth-quarter free throws, “act like you are the only one in the gym and knock them down.
“It’s all about staying focused.”
Behind eight first-quarter points from Nolte, Gatesville built a 13-6 lead before Robinson (15-7, 2-6) rallied, tying the score 22-22 by halftime.
Then, the Hornets missed eight of their 10 field-goal attempts in the third quarter, and the Lady Rockets capitalized, creating a 30-27 gap to start the final period.
“I’ve got to give some credit to Robinson,” Gatesville head coach Chris Carroll said, “because they attacked us, but we were just really flat and did not play that well.
“But I was proud we kept our composure and never let it get far enough away that we couldn’t get the lead back.”
Jones complemented Nolte’s performance by finishing with a 10-point, 10-rebound double-double, while senior Corie Tunnell had a game-high five assists.
Although Carroll was pleased with his team’s ability to survive despite a subpar performance, he knows a similar outing Tuesday at La Vega could result in a much different outcome.
“We’re 29 games into the season,” he said, “and we haven’t guarded that poorly all year long.
“We had some clutch shots and crucial possessions that helped us win, but we have to play much better to get a win Tuesday night.”