SAN SABA — The emotional elevator has returned to the top floor.
After winning 16 of its first 18 games, Lampasas appeared destined for the playoffs. The Lady Badgers’ hopes, however, plummeted once District 6-4A play began.
Lampasas struggled to produce victories, spending much of its schedule hovering around the cellar of the standings. Nevertheless, the Lady Badgers did enough to force a playoff play-in game against Brownwood on Tuesday.
And they capitalized on the opportunity.
Lampasas never trailed in the contest, immediately constructing an 11-4 advantage before cruising into the postseason thanks to a 51-36 victory, and following the contest, Lady Badgers senior Addison McDonald admitted the outcome erased any lingering disappointment.
“This feels amazing,” she said. “After the beginning of district, everybody was feeling pretty discouraged, but these last few games have restored our confidence.
“I think we feel just like we did before district, and that’s a good feeling to have going into the playoffs.”
Sparked by an eight-point outburst from junior forward Julianna Dwamena in the period, Lampasas (20-8, 3-6) created an eight-point cushion, 14-6, before taking a 16-12 lead into the second quarter. The Lady Badgers increased the margin to 27-14 behind nine unanswered points, but again, Brownwood rallied.
The Lady Lions closed the half with eight consecutive points to pull within five points at 27-22.
They would not get any closer.
Lampasas outscored Brownwood 15-4 in the third quarter, and the Lady Lions never closed within single digits again.
“We realized what defense they were running,” Lady Badgers senior Taylor Allen said, “and we just started moving the ball and getting it inside more.
“That really helped us, and of course, we just started making shots.”
Brownwood (9-15, 2-7) attempted a comeback in the fourth quarter, using a 10-3 outburst to make it an 11-point game at 47-36, but the Lady Badgers recorded the final four points of the game at the free-throw line.
Allen, who made three of seven 3-point attempts, led Lampasas offensively, scoring a game-high 12 points, while teammate Morgan Lovejoy, a sophomore post, had 11 points, six rebounds and three blocks.
Additionally, Dwamena posted eight points and 11 rebounds, while McDonald, who played all five positions, finished with seven points, six assists, four blocks and three rebounds.
According to Lampasas head coach Mark Myers, though, the Lady Badgers emerged from the game with something more important than impressive statistics — optimism.
“This is more like the team I thought I’d be watching all year long,” he said. “Everything that happened during district was just very disappointing, but it is very encouraging to see these girls making a run.
“I’m just so proud of the way they bounced back from all that disappointment. Everything just kind of fell apart, but now we’ve got it going back in the right direction.”
Lampasas opens its fourth consecutive playoff appearance under Myers on Thursday, facing Graham (16-10) at May High School. Like Lampasas, the Lady Steers suffered losses to District 6-4A teams Glen Rose, No. 5 Stephenville and Brownwood, before posting a 9-1 record en route to the District 5-4A championship.
The Lady Badgers enter the postseason having won four of their last six games, including a 46-45 overtime victory against No. 8 Glen Rose.
While the losing skid was disappointing, Lampasas intends to benefit from the experience in the playoffs and potentially advance to the third round for the first time under Myers.
“It was just a tough district,” Myers said. “Those are all very good teams, and they all played a different style than we do.
“But we have learned to react to those different styles and adjust to them, and we are just playing a lot better.”
LAMPASAS 51, BROWNWOOD 36
Allen 12, Lovejoy 11, Dwamena 8, Chandler 8, McDonald 7, Bender 3, Wheeler 2, K.Ball 0.
Savage 11, Goodwin 9, Price 9, Leach 2, Larose 2, Sudderth 2, Arreola 2.
Lampasas 16 11 15 9—51
Brownwood 12 10 4 10—36
3-Point Goals–Lampasas 5 (Allen 3, Chandler, McDonald), Brownwood 3 (Price 3). Free Throws–Lampasas 10-12, Brownwood 13-20. Fouled Out–K. Ball. Total Fouls–Lampasas 16, Brownwood 12. Technicals–None.
Records–Lampasas 20-8, 3-6 District 6-4A; Brownwood 9-15, 2-7.
AREA GIRLS BASKETBALL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE
- Lake Belton vs. La Grange, 6 p.m., Rockdale HS
- Salado vs. Austin Eastside Memorial, 6 p.m., Manor HS
- No. 22 Harker Heights vs. Mansfield, 6:30 p.m., Lorena HS
- Gatesville vs. Iowa Park, 7 p.m., Joshua HS
- Lampasas vs. Graham, 7 p.m., May HS
- Shoemaker vs. No. 2 DeSoto, 7:30 p.m., Corsicana HS
- Ellison vs. No. 3 Duncanville, 7 p.m., Cleburne HS