By Richard Greene
For most of the four quarters, the Bridgeport Sissies had an answer to every punch landed by the fifth-ranked Burnet Lady Dawgs Thursday night.
Bridgeport could not mount a response to Burnet’s Shay Graeter connection that put the Lady Dawgs in front with 2:10 left. Burnet added a pair of free throws in the final seconds to wrap up the 45-42 victory in the Class 3A Region I area championship at Wisdom Gym on the campus of Tarleton State University in Stephenville.
“I don’t think we could have asked for more out of them than they gave,” said Bridgeport varsity girls coach Eddie Fortenberry. “It was one of those games where you play your heart out and you look up at scoreboard and you’re behind. They’re good, but we gave them all they wanted.”
Burnet with the victory moves on to play China Spring in the region quarterfinal next week.
Bridgeport took a one-point lead on a pair of free throws by Becca Logan with 2:28 left. Graeter, who finished with eight points, put Burnet back in front with her only points of the second half on the next possession.
After a missed free throw by Burnet with 28 seconds left, Bridgeport had a chance to take the lead back, but could not get a shot off. Burnet’s Brooke Rockafellow drained a pair of free throws with seven seconds left to make the lead three.
Bridgeport’s 3-point attempt at the buzzer fell short.
“We didn’t get outplayed; we just ran out of time,” said Bridgeport junior forward Emily Price, who scored a team-high 11 points. “We played our hearts out. I don’t think I’ve played on a team that’s gave more effort.”
After trailing by one, 17-16, at halftime, Bridgeport stepped up its man-to-man defense in the second half. The Sissies forced five Burnet turnovers in the third quarter.
“We talked at halftime about forcing them to go left and we caused some turnovers,” Fortenberry said.
Photos by Joe Duty
With the Sissies trailing by two, 22-20, Presley White drew contact on a 3-point try. She went to the free-throw line and hit all three shots, starting an 11-4 run that gave Bridgeport a 31-24 lead. Haley Meekins capped the run by hitting a free throw to complete a three-point play with 1:44 remaining in the third quarter.
Bridgeport could not protect that seven-point edge. After a pair of free throws from Kerstyn Towslee, Karli Maldonado made a layup in transition and then closed the quarter with a 3-pointer to send the game into the final frame tied at 31.
“We needed to stop that and stay ahead,” Price said.
Fortenberry added: “That was huge. If we were able to hold that five-point lead, we’d been in great shape. We had them right where we wanted them. Then boom-boom. They hit those shots at the end of the third quarter.”
In her final game for the Sissies, White scored 10. Katie Samples put in seven. Meekins finished with six points and seven rebounds before fouling out in the game’s final seconds. Logan added six and Macy Bishop two.