Determination and sheer force of will were not enough to elevate the Slidell Lady Greyhound basketball team on Friday. This was the second year running that the Lady Hounds have lost to the Saltillo Lady Lions in the regional semifinal game at Tyler Junior College’s Wagstaff Gym.
This year’s score was 42-25.
“We started out all right,” Head Coach Cody Vanover said. “Saltillo blocked out well, rebounded well, and did not give any room for mistakes.”
Saltillo’s zone defense was difficult to overcome, and the Lady Lions controlled the paint for a majority of the match.
In the first few minutes of the game, the Lady Hounds shooting was cold. Slidell was forced to settle for outside shots with most missing their mark. Brooke Rhodes finally worked her way to the basket for a pull-up jump shot, and Ashton Stroope sank a three-point shot from the right side to tie the game 5-5 at the four -minute mark of the first period.
Rhodes drilled a jumper from the free throw line to give Slidell its only lead of the game.
It was short-lived as the Lady Lions added six points to their total to take an 11-7 lead.
Saltillo’s 6-1 post player, Victoria Stretcher, found her rhythm in the second quarter, scoring 11 of her 22 game points. The Lady Lions sank eight unanswered points to take a 19-7 lead.
Katy Stephens was then able to score on a fastbreak layup and added two of a three-point trip to the free throw line.
Stroope added a free throw and Rhodes managed a layup from the right side of the basket, but the Lady Hounds found themselves with a 25-14 deficit at the half.
“The toughest thing about them was their height,” Slidell’s Caitlin Pruett said after the game. “The fact that we did not block out well did not help either.”
Slidell tightened up their 3-2 zone defense after the break and held the Lady Lions scoreless for the first six minutes of the third period while Rhodes scored twice. Saltillo’s Stretcher popped in two baskets from underneath, and Karli Brewer hit a three pointer for a 32-18 score at the end of three.
“It was frustrating,” freshman forward Marisol Millan said. “I was fighting a virus and did not have the strength to perform like I normally do.”
Scoring was low in the fourth quarter. Stroope hit another three pointer at the beginning of the period for Slidell, and Pruett sank two charity shots during her first visit to the line during the game. Stretcher added a basket for the Lady Lions on a inbound play.
The score was 34-23 with three minutes left in the game when Slidell began intentional fouls in an effort to get possession of the ball.
“They had created a big lead. We were trying to close the gap, but Saltillo did a pretty good on their free throws,” Coach Vanover said. Saltillo hit six of their 12 free throw attempts in the final period.
“I don’t know how we can replace our graduating seniors, not just their playing ability, but their character and work ethic,” he added.
SALTILLO 42, SLIDELL 25
1 … 2 … 3 … 4 … F
Saltillo … 11 … 14 … 7 … 10 … 42
Slidell … 7 … 7 … 4 … 7 … 25
Saltillo – Stretcher 22, Ariel Tippit 6, Karli Brewer 5, Erika Mobley 4, Chelsea Moore 3, Andrea Tippit 2.
Slidell – Brooke Rhodes 12, Aston Stroope 7, Katy Stephens 4, Caitlin Pruett 2