Competing in Region I-4A — possibly the best region in the state for girls basketball — the second-ranked Glen Rose Lady Tigers had their state title hopes erased last Friday night in Lubbock.
Fifth-ranked Denver City defeated Coach Ramsey Ghazal’s Lady Tigers, 44-32, snapping their 22-game win streak in the regional semifinals of the tournament played in the Rip Griffin Center on the campus of Lubbock Christian University.
Region I also included third-ranked Levelland, along with Bushland, Brownwood and Midlothian Heritage — ranked 14th through 16th in the state by the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches.
It was the final high school game for the four GRHS senior players — Sydney Lozier, Kashanna Bryant, Laiken McAnear and Ally Andress.
Ghazal’s Lady Tigers 34-2 season mark an all-time GRHS best season record, topping the 27 wins they reached for the 2016-2017 season.
The Lady Tigers have made it to the girls state basketball tournament three times in their history, according to Tommy Corcoran, Assistant Superintendent of Operations for the GRISD. He said the girls reached the state tournament in 1963 and took third place, and finished as the state runner-up in 1968 and 1971.
The Lady Tigers managed to score just five points in the third quarter against Denver City. The Fillies stretched their 22-21 lead to 34-21 with a string of six straight field goals that extended into the fourth quarter.
The Lady Tigers outscored the Fillies 12-10 in the final five minutes of the game, but finished with an 11-point deficit.
“It’s important to go into the fourth quarter with a lead,” Ghazal said, noting that the key to the loss was in the closing minutes of the third quarter when the Fillies began their 12-0 run.
All-state and District 8-4A Most Valuable Player Ally Andress once again led the Lady Tigers in scoring, with 17 points. Next for GRHS was Kashanna Bryant with eight points.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game,” Ghazal said. “We had a lot of respect for them. They were probably one of the best offensive teams we’ve seen all year.”
With that in mind, Ghazal noted that if he had been told that Denver City would have only 26 points through the first three quarters, he would have felt good about the chances of winning.
“It was one of those games where we couldn’t get anything going offensively,” Ghazal said, noting that the Lady Tigers missed eight of their 10 free throw tries in the first half — yet managed to go into halftime tied, 16-all.
Denver City outscored the Lady Tigers 12-7 in the opening quarter, which featured three lead changes early.
Glen Rose had a 9-4 scoring edge in the second quarter.
The Lady Tigers made just 7 of 17 at the free throw line overall.
“They’re good defensively, but no one’s defending the free throws,” Ghazal said, adding that there were a number of wide-open 3-point shots missed by the Lady Tigers as well.
The Lady Tigers also hurt their own cause by turning the ball over a season-high 24 times.
“It was partly because they were pretty good, and partly because we just threw it away,” Ghazal explained. “Overall, we did not get into a rhythm, or feel good about our offense.”
Denver City’s all-important 12-0 run finally ended when Andress made a field goal at the 5-minute mark in the fourth quarter. That cut Denver City’s lead to 34-23, but the Lady Tigers made just two more baskets and they came after the Fillies had stretched their lead to as many as 13 points twice.
Bryant was the top rebounder in the game, with seven, and Hailey Ibarra recorded a team-high four steals for GRHS.
The other scorers in the game for the Lady Tigers were Laiken McAnear with four points, Breanna Baker with three and Ibarra with one.
Glen Rose made just 13 of 37 shots from the field overall, for 35 percent. They were 0-for-6 from 3-point range.
Denver City shot 43 percent from the floor, making 19 of 44 attempts.
The Fillies defeated 11th-ranked Abilene Wylie, 44-41, in the regional tournament final to improve to 30-6 on the season. They will play at 3 p.m. today (Friday, March 2) in the semifinals of the state tournament in San Antonio’s Alamodome against seventh-ranked San Antonio Veterans Memorial High School (32-9). The winner will play either Houston Wheatley (31-3) or Argyle (32-7) for the state championship at 7 p.m. Saturday.