The Lady Broncos spent the last two games battling out of a 1 or 2-point lead at half time to pull off the victory. Tonight, it almost seemed if most of the game, the Lady Broncos were going to banish the curse and win with ease. Then came the fourth quarter.
The Lady Broncos started the fourth quarter with a comfortable 15-point lead. Then Lady Momentum decided to attempt to desert her dance partner, Lady Broncos, and waltz to the other side.
The Lady Broncos spent the first minute and half of the fourth quarter without scoring. A couple of turnovers and fast drives to the basket and the Lady Knights started chipping away the lead. The Lady Knights continued to prevent the Lady Broncos from scoring during the waning minutes of the fourth quarter and connected with their outside perimeter shoots eliminating the Lady Bronco lead and taking Lady Momentum by the hand.
Most coaches, and commentators would say this is the moment that defines teams and athletes. When those athletes can rush the dance floor and remind Lady Momentum who is her original partner for the evening. Gabby Connally, Liz Freeland, Kaia Herrera, and Breauna Deleon accomplished the task. This was not the only mistake the Lady Knights would make.
The first—devising a faulty game plan. The Lady Knights were convinced if they contained and controlled Connally victory would be easy. Therefore, they double teamed, triple teamed, and even attempted to break out a strait jacket to keep Connally under control. This allowed other starting players to drive into the scoring lanes and find the basket. Members from the bench stepped onto the court and controlled the offensive and defensive boards. The final flaw in the theory—Connally herself. Connally missing a free throw is much like Texas having three months of winter with six-foot snow drifts.
Liz Freeland and Breauna Delon used their height to control the post position and the boards both offensively and defensively. Ariana Villa drove the inside perimeter keeping the Lady Knights off balanced.
Even the fastest feet and the fastest hands cannot escape from drawing fouls when you double team a player. You hope the player you are double teaming is a poor free throw shooter and you know you are going to lose personnel so you hope that will not impact the game. If the Knight coach had been in Las Vegas tonight would not have been a profitable evening. With each foul, the Lady Knights painted a fluorescent arrow to the free throw line. As the fouls totaled up, the Lady Knights lost a double-digit scorer and some dedicated defensive players.
The turning point came when Arianna Villa scored a clutch basket down low bringing the score tied. The Lady Knights attempted to inbound the ball and then Connally grabbed the steal and drove to the basket laying the ball off the glass and giving the Lady Broncos a two-point lead. She was awarded with an “and one” when Antonia Anderson bumped her on the drive up. This placed Connally on the free throw line and an opportunity for insurance. The Lady Knights would have to score three to put the game into overtime.
A time out and the longest six seconds of any Brandeis fan’s life and the Lady Knights would attempt a last shot just as the final buzzard sounded—Brandeis won 64 to 61.
“We saw major improvement tonight,” said Brandeis Coach Jennifer Brewer. “We improved in every area, shooting, defense, and controlling the boards. Tonight’s win was a huge accomplishment for this team. However, this team is so talented from every player that starts to our bench personnel. Our talent is very deep.”
The Lady Broncos accomplished one of the biggest goals for the team this year. Yet it has come at a price. Each victory has been very physical. The Lady Broncos seem much like Rocky Balboa gathering bruises and bumps as they prepare for the final bout.
“I woke up a good kind of nervous,” added Brewer. “I felt our girls were going to have a great game. However, the next rounds promise to be tough. Judson played a good game tonight. You cannot take the valley teams for granted.”
The Lady Broncos will travel to Laredo Energy Arena on Friday, February 24 to play Weslaco. Tip off is scheduled for 6pm. Weslaco enters the game as the top seed in 6A District 32 with a district record of 13-1. Weslaco maintains a strong senior presence and their “go to player” Emily Saenz. Saenz hurt her ankle in the practice before the area game. Although she was cleared to play in the game, she spent most of her time on the bench.
If Brandeis wins they face the winner of the Judson Laredo Alexander game. Brandeis is familiar with Judson. Laredo Alexander is a young team who is the top seed for 6A District 25 with a 13-0 record. The regional final game will also be held at Laredo Energy Arena with tip off scheduled for 2pm.
The winner of the regional final will return to San Antonio for the State tournament to be held during March 2-3 at the Alamodome.
For images from the regional quarterfinal game log onto https://jwilliamphotos.smugmug.com/browse