WEST — Shoemaker was defeated, but it was not a total loss.
Playing against the state’s top team, the Lady Grey Wolves were overpowered almost immediately in their opening-round playoffgame, trailing Duncanville by nine points following the first quarter before losing 74-37.
While it was a disappointing way to end the season, Shoemaker head coach Michelle O’Neal feels her team profited despite the lopsided outcome.
“Any time you can play a No. 1 team like that,” she said, “you should learn from it.
“Now, we know what the best looks like and what we need to do to compete at that level, so this was definitely a beneficial experience.”
After trading baskets to begin the contest, Duncanville (33-2) scored six unanswered points to create an early cushion, but it did not take long for the Lady Grey Wolves to deflate it.
Shoemaker rallied as Kiara Johnson found Charlene Shepherd for an easy basket before scoring one herself in the paint. Then, with 3 minutes, 39 seconds remaining in the first quarter, Lady Grey Wolves junior Kaleiyah Davis connected on a pair of free throws, tying the score 8-8.
The Pantherettes tallied 11 of the period’s final 13 points to take control, however, and never slowed down.
The outburst was part of a 62-17 run that spanned into fourth quarter as Shoemaker (21-17) connected on just three field-goal attempts in the second and third quarters combined.
“We were running the floor with them and getting back in transition on defense pretty quickly early on,” O’Neal said, “and we were spreading the floor on offense as well.
“Then, we slowed down just a little bit, and when we slowed down, they maintained the same speed.”
The Lady Grey Wolves outscored Duncanville 17-14 in the fourth quarter behind three 3-pointers from Davis, but it was not enough as four Pantherettes finished with double-digit outings on offense.
Davis led Shoemaker in defeat with 11 points, while Shepherd and Johnson contributed eight points apiece. Additionally, senior forward Makayla Gatewood totaled seven points and seven rebounds for the Lady Grey Wolves.
“Regardless of what the score says,” O’Neal said, “my girls competed. They never laid down or let Duncanville just have anything.
“They played all the way through the game, and that’s what I’m most proud of.”
The defeat ended the careers of six Lady Grey Wolves as Azihonna Cox, Ashten Jones, Taylor Askew, Emonei Chestnut, Johnson and Gatewood are all set to graduate.
As a group, Shoemaker’s seniors helped guide the Lady Grey Wolves to consecutive postseason appearances after suffering through an eight-year absence
“These seniors set the standard for our program,” O’Neal said. “They are definitely leaving a legacy behind.”