LITTLE RIVER-ACADEMY — Salado’s early, brief lead was brought to a startling halt Tuesday afternoon.
The 3-point shots were dropping in for the Lady Eagles (1-6), but it wasn’t enough to catch the Academy Lady Bumblebees (3-2), who took a 40-33 win over Salado.
“I’ve got a very young team,” said Lady Eagles coach Diane Konarik. “We’ve played a really tough season so far right now.
“We’ve got about four returners coming back, I have one that’s injured right now, everybody else is from my junior varsity team.”
One returner quickly put Salado on top as senior guard Lexie Lima got the game going with back-to-back shots from the outside.
Academy quickly caught up with consecutive layups from Lillie Stewart and Reese Preston that tied the game late in the first quarter, 6-6.
Fellow senior guard Nicole Pettigrew dropped a 3-pointer to pull Salado ahead 9-8 in the last seconds of the quarter.
The Lady Bumblebees went on a 15-0 run to close out the first half behind offensive and defensive rebounds from senior forward Jenna Brazeal.
“I told them in the beginning that (Brazeal) was going to grab everything,” Konarik said. “It didn’t matter if she was going to be climbing over her own teammates, she’s going to go get the rebound.”
The third-year Salado basketball coach told her team they were getting outworked on the court at halftime.
“I told them we were being outhustled, outrebounded and out-pushed around,” Konarik admitted. “We just weren’t playing out game and I wanted somebody to get after it.
“I wanted them to want the ball as much as (Academy) did.”
The Lady Eagles came out of the break hungry to get after the ball. Junior forward Kaia Philen got the momentum started again for Salado as she drew a foul and made a pair of free throws.
Philen then sank a shot from the outside to bring the Lady Eagles within seven points of the Lady Bees, 23-17.
Salado started to apply the pressure and played a much more physical defense throughout the third quarter and held Academy to just five points.
The Lady Eagles cut the deficit to 10 and trailed 28-18 going into the final quarter.
“I expect a lot out of them,” Konarik said of her team. “And they know that. I’m always going to be tough on it, but they’ll get it and we’ll start moving on.”
Corban Mescher added three from the outside for Salado to start the final eight minutes of play.
The Lady Eagles chipped away at Academy’s lead as they went on a 7-2 run.
As hard as they battled back, it wasn’t enough. The 40-33 dropped the Lady Eagles to 1-6 as they head into the holiday weekend.
“I think this break is what we needed right when we need it,” Konarik said. “I think we came out of the Abilene tournament ... had five hard games there, came back and played two hard games against Academy and La Vernia last night.
“I think this break is really needed, and we’ll come into our tournament ready to go.”
Lima led the Lady Eagles with 11 points. Brazeal led all scorers with 13.
The Lady Eagles return home Tuesday to face Holland (1-2) and will open District 27-4A play against Lampasas after the new year.
ACADEMY 40, SALADO 33
McCulloch 0, Lima 11, Pryor 0, Cantu 0, Torczynski 0, Preston 0, Pettigrew 3, Philen 8, Perez 6, Mescher 5, Rembert 0, Wade 0.
Little River-Academy (40)
Turner 0, Stewart 6, Bolin 2, Halsey 5, Brazeal 13, Fastzkie 4, Erwin 4, Fossett 6.
Salado 9 0 9 15—33
LR-Academy 8 15 5 12—40
3-Point Goals—Salado 6 (Lima 3, Pettigrew, Philen, Mescher), Little River-Academy 3 (Stewart 2, Halsey). Free throws—Salado 9-12, Little River-Academy 9-11. Fouled Out—Fastzkie. Total Fouls—Salado 12, Little River-Academy 14. Technicals—None.
Records—Salado 1-6, Little River-Academy 3-2.
TUESDAY’S GIRLS BASKETBALL
- Belton 41, 4A-No. 15 Gatesville 28
- 5A-No. 8 Cedar Park 49, Killeen 38
- Copperas Cove 57, Marble Falls 16
- No. 19 Lampasas 71, Austin Travis 20
- Little River-Academy 40, Salado 33
- San Marcos 53, Shoemaker 39