It was not easy, and Jelecia Magee-Hodges is appreciative.
For 20 years, Lampasas struggled. Despite countless lineup formations, numerous coaching changes and regardless of home court advantage, the Lady Badgers were burdened with the weight of inferiority.
Since 1999, when Lampasas defeated Liberty Hill three times en route to the regional semifinals, the Lady Panthers dominated the series, winning every contest, including 17 consecutive victories as district opponents.
On Friday, however, the Lady Badgers erased two decades of doubt with a 55-46 victory at Liberty Hill, where they suffered a 62-point defeat last season.
It was not easy, but Lampasas’ senior forward cherishes the adversity.
“We expected them to fight back,” Magee-Hodges said, “and that makes the win so much better. They were fighting us, and we were fighting them, so it wasn’t just a one-sided battle. We both were clashing.
“That’s what we wanted. We wanted to work for this win.”
After clawing back from a 27-14 deficit in the first half, the Lady Badgers saw their 11-point advantage dwindle to five points at 49-44 with 2 minutes, 31 seconds remaining in the contest.
Lampasas withstood the rally, though, scoring six of the game’s final eight points to secure the long-awaited victory.
But the late stand was merely a microcosm of the Lady Badgers’ evolving confidence that was tested by earlier losses to Liberty Hill and Burnet, causing them to fall out of the state rankings after climbing to No. 11 in the Class 4A poll.
“We had three starters and two players in our regular rotation sick with the flu all week,” Lampasas head coach Mark Myers said. “We didn’t even know if they would play or how many minutes, so there was so much adversity going into that game — the past and everything that happened in the past few days.
“But overcoming all that combined just shows the resilience of these kids.”
Perhaps no Lampasas player displayed the characteristic more against Liberty Hill than senior Kamri Corbin, who posted nine of her 14 points in the fourth quarter following a 1-of-8 shooting performance to start the game.
The guard scored the Lady Badgers’ first five points of the final period and started Lampasas’ initial surge to victory by collecting an offensive rebound off her own missed free throw and scoring on a putback to give her team a 51-44 cushion after the Lady Panthers pulled within five points.
Then, with 60 seconds remaining, Corbin returned to the free-throw line and made a pair.
“I wanted to win that game so bad,” she said, “and I rely on my teammates a lot, but at the end of the day, I needed to put in some work.
“In the fourth quarter, I just put it on myself to score.”
With the victory, the Lady Badgers improved to 26-5 overall and 5-2 in District 12-6A, positioning them to potentially earn a district championship should Liberty Hill falter during the final games of the regular season.
The outcome did more than merely improve postseason seeding or end a losing skid, though.
It erased doubt, and doing so was not easy.
“We’ve had a hard time finishing games,” Lampasas junior point guard Abby Martin said. “We were up against Burnet and we were up against Liberty Hill the first time we played, and we just lost it.
“So, getting the lead, letting them catch up and still being able to finish with the win feels really good.”
LAMPASAS 55, LIBERTY HILL 46
Magee-Hodges 17, Corbin 14, Hurst 14, Linney 4, Allen 2, Yancy 2, Ball 2.
Liberty Hill (46)
Robinson 10, Whitten 9, Nelson 9, Laird 7, Holliday 6, Sargent 2, Berzin 2, Vickers 1.
Lampasas 6 12 20 17—55
Liberty Hill 13 14 8 11—46
3-Point Goals—Lampasas 3 (Corbin 2, Hurst), Liberty Hill 2 (Whitten, Robinson). Free Throws—Lampasas 14-27, Liberty Hill 14-32. Fouled Out—Laird. Total Fouls—Lampasas 21, Liberty Hill 24. Technicals—None.
Records—Lampasas 26-5, 5-2 27-4A, Liberty Hill 15-17, 6-1.