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Basketball: Lady Hounds survive Saltillo – Slidell moves on to regional tournament

By Rich Hilliard | Published Saturday, February 24, 2018
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Junior Cate Zuniga cited the time spent off the court Tuesday at Trenton High School for Slidell’s regional quarterfinal win on it.

Zuniga scored 12 of her game-high 24 points in the fourth quarter, as Slidell won its Class A Region III quarterfinal rematch with Saltillo, 49-40.

“We came together at halftime,” Zuniga said. “We [figured] out that we had to slow it down. The talk in the locker room at halftime made the difference. We knew we wanted to go to the regional tournament again.”

Slidell played Gorman at 7 p.m. Friday in the second of two Region III-1A semifinals at Mansfield High School. The winner will play either Dodd City or Huckabay in the regional final slated for 2 p.m. Saturday in Mansfield. The winner will advance to San Antonio.

This is the second straight year the Lady Hounds have made it to the regional tournament. Slidell lost to Dodd City in the regional final last season.

Slidell used a 14-0 run from midway through the third quarter until almost three minutes into the fourth to beat Saltillo. The run broke open a game separated by no more than a possession for most of the first half.

Saltillo took a 30-25 lead early in the second half before Slidell began its decisive run. Taylor Davis hit a 3-pointer at the four-minute mark. Jayden Ellison’s score off an assist from Sydney Keating less than a minute later tied the game for the last time.

Zuniga broke the final tie with a basket for a 32-30 lead going into the final frame.

Her performance did not surprise Slidell coach Lance Shelton.

“She has been that way all year,” Shelton said. “They were face-guarding Bailey Meyer – shutting her out. Cate stepped up.”

Meyer finished with just four points for Slidell after scoring 26 in the area round against Fannindel.

Zuniga continued the run into the fourth, starting with a 3-pointer from the top of the key during the first minute and a putback a few minutes later. She then had the assist on an Ellison score to complete the run with 5:13 left in the game, as Slidell led 39-30.

“We just got on a roll,” Shelton said. “We gained confidence after a couple of baskets.”

Zuniga answered Saltillo’s run-breaking score on its ensuing possession with a basket. She then accounted for six of eight free throws made by Slidell – the only way the Lady Greyhounds scored during the final 1:49 of the game. Maddie Meyers and Ellison had the other two.

“We practice free throws with Coach Shelton a lot,” Zuniga said. “Free throws saved us.”

Davis’ 3-pointer with one second left forged a 23-23 halftime tie. Slidell ended the first half on a 5-0 run, starting with a Zuniga basket.

Saltillo led 12-11 after one quarter on a buzzer beater, after Maddie Meyers’ first of two first-half 3-pointers had regained the lead for Slidell.

Sydney Keating’s three-point play and Zuniga’s 3-pointer gave Slidell a 6-2 lead three minutes into the game.

SLIDELL 49, SALTILLO 40

Slidell … 11 … 12 … 9 … 17 … – … 49
Saltillo … 12 … 11 … 7 … 10 … – … 40

Slidell (26-6) – Cate Zuniga 24, Maddie Meyer 7, Taylor Davis 6, Jayden Ellison 5, Bailey Meyer 4, Sydney Keating 3

Saltillo (20-16) – Madison Simmons 10, Maddie Smith 10, Jocelyn Ochoa 8, Chandler Bain 5, Jordan Sustaire 4, Anna Reeder 2, Tori Mobley 1

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