Despite a tremendous effort the Decatur Lady Eagles came up a little short in their bid to reach the postseason Tuesday. After leading most of the game, Decatur could not hold on as Sanger captured the 56-49 victory.
“The effort was outstanding, and we did the best we could,” Decatur coach Billy Garner said. “We had too many turnovers, and we missed some free throws. Those were the biggest differences in the game.”
Both teams went into Tuesday’s contest needing a win to secure a playoff spot. Sanger had a chance for second place with a win and a Gainesville loss, but the Lady Leopards defeated Bridgeport to take second, moving the Lady Indians to third place.
Sanger will either play Argyle or Celina in the first round.
The Lady Eagles got off to a hot start, scoring the first eight points and holding a 15-7 lead until a Carissa Spiker 3-pointer cut it to 15-10 at the end of the quarter.
“We came out and did exactly what we wanted to do,” Garner said. “We defended their sets well, rebounded the ball, took advantage of fast breaks and executed our half-court offense.”
Sanger got within three points twice during the second frame but would not get any closer as the Lady Eagles built a 27-22 lead at the half.
The Lady Indians turned up the pressure in the second half, giving the Decatur guard fits. With the turnovers created, Sanger eventually took the lead with just under a minute left in the third.
“We knew it was coming. We just didn’t know when,” Garner said about the press. “It bothered us, and we didn’t handle it very well.”
Never losing confidence, Decatur rallied right back in the fouth retaking the lead on a Katie Isham free throw with 4:36 left in the game.
Two minutes later Sanger took a 46-45 advantage and would never trail again.
Decatur missed eight free-throws in the fourth quarter.
After an emotional end to the season, Garner was proud of what his girls left on the court.
“I told them to keep their head up because they battled all night long,” Garner said. “They stepped up when people went down this season and did everything we asked of them.”
Decatur was led by Shelby Drews with 16, and Isham had 15. Makayla Mayfield added 11.
Sanger was led by Natalie Castillo with 21.