By Richard Greene
In trying to measure up with the top-ranked team in the state, the Slidell Lady Greyhounds dug themselves a hole they never could get out of Friday.
The Lady Greyhounds fell behind 13-0 to start the game and never got back within 11 on the way to a 61-39 loss to the Saltillo Lady Lions Friday in the Class A Division II Region III semifinal at Tyler Junior College’s Wagstaff Gym.
“It was an uphill battle to start and we managed to dig a hole to start,” said Slidell coach Cody Vanover. “That had as much to do with Saltillo as anything else. They have long arms and made us extend things past where we were comfortable.”
The loss ended Slidell’s season at 26-7. It was the second straight year it fell in the region semifinal.
“There were 186 teams that weren’t playing tonight,” Vanover said.
Slidell’s Katy Stephens added: “I’m so proud of what we accomplished. We’ve grown so much and gave it our all.”
It was the final game in a Slidell uniform for seniors Allie Staub and Chanel Brewer along with foreign exchange student Hannah Pakulat. Pakulat led the Lady Greyhounds with 16 points. Staub, who picked up three early fouls in the first half and fought through an arm injury, finished with six.
“They have seen a complete turnaround from when we were happy to make it to bi-district to where we were expected to make it to regionals,” Vanover said. “I’m proud of them. Hopefully we can carry it on.”
Trying to match a Saltillo lineup that featured four players taller than 5-10, the Lady Greyhounds never found an answer on either end of the floor.
Slidell hit just nine field goals and turned the ball over 24 times.
“We’ve never played anyone with so much length and also speed,” Stephens said. “They did a really good job on defense. We rushed our shots and didn’t get the looks we wanted.”
Slidell turned the ball over eight times in the first quarter, hitting just one field goal.
After running out to a 13-0 lead, Saltillo took a 15-4 advantage at the end of the first quarter.
The Lady Lions hit just one basket in the second quarter, but extended its lead to 27-12, hitting all 11 free-throw attempts in the half. Saltillo finished the game 20-for-23 from the line.
Saltillo’s 6-0 Brooke Lane put the game away in the third quarter, pouring in 12 of her 20 points. Saltillo built a 44-18 lead on her basket inside with two minutes left in the third quarter.
Saltillo led 44-22 going to the fourth quarter.
Lane was one of three Lady Lions in double figures. Victoria Stretcher added 13 and Kimber Thompson 11.
Stephens finished with nine for Slidell. Sarah Davis and Ashton Stroope added four each.