It was a tall order for Anna’s Lady Coyotes on Friday at home: Defeat 8-0 Aubrey or almost certainly miss the playoffs. “Almost certainly” because, with a loss, Anna could still hope for winless Gainesville to beat fourth-place Celina this night – perhaps a slim chance at best.
As it turned out, Anna (2-7) turned in a valiant Senior Night effort but the Lady Chaparrals were undeterred, cruising to a 47-33 win to clinch their first outright district title in 10 years. And, closing Anna’s post-season door completely, Celina indeed downed Gainesville.
The Lady Chaps set the tone early, breaking to a 9-0 start then leading 20-11 at halftime. Anna managed only single-digit scoring in each of the first two frames. By the end of three quarters, Aubrey’s lead had edged to 31-21 as some Lady Coyote good looks kept coming up empty.
Gabbi Grisso led the Lady Chaps with 11 points while Miranda Novak added 10. Marianna Bert bombed home two second-half 3s en route to a team-high eight points for Anna.
“I’m incredibly proud of the effort and the heart we showed tonight,” Lady Coyotes head coach Justin Baldia said. “We really came out firing. Defensively, I thought we executed the game plan really well. Offensively, there was just a lid on the bucket tonight, and that seems to be the story most nights for us. You get good shots and they just don’t quite fall. That’s something that we’ll work on in the off-season. … We fell a little bit short to a really tough team — the best team in the district.”
With a district-finale win over Melissa on Tuesday, Aubrey would complete a program turnaround from 0-10 four years ago. “We are still playing extremely well, defensively,” head coach Ron Gathright said. “That is kind of what has carried us, especially during this nine-game winning streak. We’re very consistent defensively. Then we find ways to get it done on the offensive end as well.”
Gathright said he knew the Lady Coyotes would try to come after them, especially with their playoff lives on the line on Senior Night. “They played us extremely hard at our place, so I knew they were going to play hard. … We worked hard on that full-court press because late in the game at our place we turned the ball over several times and they got within five or four [points] of us. We knew that was going to eventually come at us and we handled that extremely well.”
For four Anna seniors, this was their final time to play on the hardwood at Anna High School.
“It doesn’t even feel real,” forward Hannah Howell said. “It doesn’t even feel like we’re actually seniors and we’re graduating and this was our last time to play on our basketball court. … I’ve loved playing with them. We’ve made so many memories. It’s just a good environment when we’re all around and I enjoy it a lot.”
“It was a good game, though,” guard Skyla Mackey added. “I thought everyone balled out tonight. Last game [at home] — woo-woo!”
Senior guards Perla and Alondra Sostra, who’ve seen little game time this season, each saw action in the second half. “It was fun,” Perla said. “It was not the same as usual. I had to adapt, but it was fun.” Said Alondra, “I felt like there was a different atmosphere in the air. It was like, ‘Who are the seniors getting recognized tonight? It can’t be us.’ … It was just awesome playing with them.”
“It was a special moment for them, I know,” Baldia said of the Sostras. “They show up every day and work as hard as anybody in our program. They deserved to be honored tonight.” He added, “All four of those girls deserved to be honored for their commitment to our program. It’s been tough. They’ve had several coaches over the course of their tenure at Anna. But they stayed the course and I couldn’t be prouder of those girls. All four of them are class acts. They know how to conduct themselves, on and off the court. We’ll definitely miss them next year.”
Aubrey 14 6 11 16 - 47
Anna 5 6 10 12 - 33
Anna scoring – Marianna Bert 8, Bre Traylor 6, Qua Fisher 5, Hannah Howell 4, Skyla Mackey 3, Lexi Stewart 3, Kaycee Redwine 3, Shataeylyn King 1.