The El Campo Ladybirds and the Wharton Lady Tigers Friday night produced a battle only worthy of two teams that are heading to the playoffs. Both needed the game for different reasons, but it was the Ladybirds on the road outlasting the Lady Tigers 47-46.
Lady Tigers junior shooting guard J’kayla Davis had a look from three to win the game, but the Ladybirds had the right defense called. Davis’ shot fell short and hit the front of the rim sealing the win for El Campo, and ending Wharton’s hopes at the second seed in the district.
“I thought we came out pretty decent,” El Campo Coach Gabe Villarreal said. “(Wharton) changed up and started guarding Mya cause she got hot. I think the rest of the girls were able to step and execute in certain situations. We had some mistakes, turning the ball over. All in all, I think they did a good job. Especially at the end, they were able to lock down and make one play.”
The biggest lead of the night was El Campo with an eight-point lead in the second quarter. El Campo junior shooting guard Mya Shorter had a couple of threes and they lead 25-17.
Wharton switched up their defense and Shorter had a hard time getting open looks the rest of the way. The Lady Tigers chipped away at the lead and sophomore point guard Justaisha Holmes closed out the half with back-to-back layups to pull them within one point.
El Campo and Wharton remained close the rest of the way. Trading scores and big plays down the stretch.
Wharton trailing 45-44 with 1:30, left got a layup from junior post Dreana Barrow, her only points of the game.
After an El Campo missed layup, Wharton had a chance to increase their lead, but a double-dribble turnover gave them the ball right back. With under a minute left to play El Campo junior point guard Jackie Nichols went right through the middle of Wharton’s defense and floated the ball into the net off the backboard inside the free-throw line giving them the 47-46 lead.
In the second half, with Shorter being kept in check by Wharton’s defense, Nichols kept the Ladybirds in the game with 15 points.
With 40 seconds left, El Campo fouled Wharton. The Tigers in the double-bouns were awarded one and one, free-throws. A miss on the front end was picked up by El Campo.
The Ladybirds drained time of the clock with the lead, content to air the ball out and end the game. However, junior guard Alanah Terrell saw an opening in the defense a Ladybird went in for a layup, but the shot missed off the front of the rim, giving the ball back to Wharton with 15 seconds left.
Davis, Wharton’s long-range shooter, dribbled the ball to the three-point line near Wharton’s bench. El Campo’s defense shaded towards Davis and had two defenders on her as she shot. Despite giving Wharton life, El Campo hung on.
“My girls played hard from the beginning to the end,” Wharton Coach Ratysha Hardy said. “We did have some moments where we were not focused, but overall I’m proud of my girls. They played their butts off.”
Wharton’s Davis had a game-high 22 points. Nichols for the Ladybirds had a team-high 17 points.