Brooke Rhodes sounded a bit like Yogi Berra Friday night when talking about the cold start by the Slidell girls, who missed 16 of their first 19 shots in their first playoff game of 2012.
“We knew there was a chance we’d make or miss our shots, and we just happened to be missing,” said the senior who is as Berra, the Hall of Fame Yankees catcher, was, a team leader. “We kept shooting and the shots eventually fell.”
Rhodes sank seven two-point field goals, one 3-pointer and a free throw to lead all scorers with 18 points as Slidell’s District 19-A champs came from behind to defeat Aquilla’s 20-A runnersup and win the Class A area-round playoff at Aledo’s sprawling new high school 47-29.
Slidell, now 19-12, advances to play Ector in a third-round game next Tuesday.
That’s the same opponent the Slidell boys will be playing, so the two schools will play a doubleheader. A coin flip later this weekend was to decide if the games will be at Howe or Pilot Point.
Wise County’s scoring leader with a 20-point average despite tearing up her knee and missing six weeks of games, Rhodes scored 10 of the Lady Greyhounds’ 12 points in the all-important second period. That’s when Slidell played tenacious D and held the Cougars to three second-stanza points, taking an 18-10 halftime lead.
In addition to ice-cold 3-for-16 shooting in the first quarter, Slidell had to overcome a lack of early rebounds. The Lady Greyhounds managed to corral only three of their 13 first-quarter misses.
“We knew they were a good rebounding team,” Slidell Coach Cody Vanover said of the Cougars, who finished the season at 20-11. “They hurt us on the offensive boards early.”
“We finally started flying in there,” said Lady Hound freshman Marisol Millan, who finished with 10 rebounds for Slidell, one fewer than Rhodes.
Ashton Stroope added 10 points to join Rhodes in double digits for Slidell. Katie Stephens hit a pair of second-half treys and finished with nine points. Caitlyn Pruett added six points and Millan and Jessie Goode each scored two points. Chelsea Lett scored 16 points and picked off 11 rebounds to lead Aquilla.
Aquilla led 7-4 late in the first quarter after a 15-foot jumper and a putback by Lett. But the Lady Greyhounds scored with 2 seconds left in the period when Rhodes drove and dished to Stroope for an easy bucket.
Stroope had both feet on the 3-point arc when she launched a long jumper that put Slidell ahead to stay, 8-7, 41 seconds into the second period. Rhodes followed with the game’s first 3-pointer and the Lady Hounds were off and running, leading 11-7.
The Slidell defense forced nine second-quarter turnovers, 15 in the first half. The Lady Hounds created two dozen turnovers in all, turning them into 11 points.
A 3-ball by Stephens upped Slidell’s lead to 27-12 with 5:39 left in the third quarter.
She was fouled attempting another 3-pointer as the third period buzzer sounded, then hit all three freebies as Slidell ran its lead to 32-18 after three.