ANNA — A scrappy group of Anna Lady Coyotes got after Class 5A Sherman on Nov. 19 but came up just short, 40-38. Anna surged ahead early then, from late in the first quarter till the final buzzer, this one was razor close. And, of course, the final two minutes held plenty of drama.


Lady Coyotes guard Marianna Bert started all that with a steal near midcourt with Anna trailing, 38-36. Driving for the bucket, Bert fed fellow guard Kaycee Redwine in traffic for a tying layup as Lady Coyotes fans rejoiced. Sherman quickly answered with a right-side jumper to regain the lead as the clock ticked under 1:30 left to play. Next, Bert’s short jumper missed but she grabbed her own rebound and fired a pass to Qua Fisher underneath who hit a layup that seemed to tie it, 40-all, with 49 seconds remaining. Instead Fisher was whistled for traveling, an extremely close - and crucial - call.


Fisher came back with a huge steal with less than 30 seconds left – but the Lady Bearcats soon stole it back under Anna’s basket. Sherman got to the line for a free throw with 8 seconds left, still clinging to that 40-38 lead. On the miss, Fisher was called for a foul, sending the Lady Bearcats back to the charity stripe for a 1-and-1 with six ticks remaining. That shot clanked as well, but in the battle for the rebound a jump ball was called – with the possession arrow pointing Sherman. Ball game.


The Lady Bearcats (3-5) never led in the first half and trailed, 22-21, at the break. Sherman’s first lead of the game, 23-22, came with on Lady Bearcats’ initial shot of the second half. From there, four lead changes and a tie ensued.


Bert led Anna (2-2) with 12 points while forward Bre Traylor posted 10, including six in the first quarter when the Lady Coyotes roared to an 11-2 lead. For Sherman, Sa’Nyah Hunter collected a team-high 10 points, with a game-high two 3s.


“I was incredibly proud of our grit and our determination tonight,” Anna head coach Justin Baldia said.


“We’re still working on getting minutes for everybody. We have some girls that can help out in a bigger capacity. We’re seeing where everybody fits in right now. … I think for the fourth game of the year, against a really tough team, a really talented team, we played well.


“At times, [defensively], we were flying around, getting hands on passes, tipped balls, lots of deflections. That was positive. … I think we’re athletic enough to be able to press for 32 minutes but at this point in the season, it’s not really sustainable for us.”


For Sherman head coach David Upton, it was about finally overcoming turnovers. “We were a turnover waiting to happen tonight,” he said. “But we were just gritty enough to hang in there and do enough to beat a very disciplined team. [Anna] did the things their coach asked them to do. They ran that good pick-and-roll in the first half that gave us some fits.”


Upton added that he was without a pair of key players this night - one with an ACL injury and one with the flu. “But we’re learning to play without people,” he said.


Besides Traylor’s inside buckets, Anna’s early lead was fueled by steals from Redwine and Bert and sharp assists from Shataelyn King and Fisher. The Lady Bearcats chipped back to trail, 11-8, after one quarter then drew to within 1 on a steal and coast-to-coast layup to open the second frame. Bert answered with Anna’s first trey of the game then, after a hard foul under the basket, sank two free throws for a 16-10 Lady Coyotes lead. Lexi Stewart’s put-back layup had Anna up, 18-14, but with 1:04 left before halftime the Lady Bearcats had knotted it, 18-18. Anna retook the lead when King found Fisher inside for a layup then Traylor swished a pair of free throws for a 22-18 edge. Then with 7 seconds to go before halftime, Sherman knocked home a left-corner 3.


The lead changed on four successive shots to start the second half, but the Lady Coyotes got back to a 3-point lead, 28-25, on Stewart’s second put-back bucket of the night. A Sherman right-corner trey tied it again before the maroon-and-white visitors pushed out to a 32-28 advantage. Fisher’s two free throws got it back to a one-shot game as the third quarter expired.


In the fourth, the Lady Bearcats got up by as much as three points before the final crazy minutes.


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Sherman 8 13 11 8 - 40


Anna 11 11 8 8 - 38


Anna scoring – Marianna Bert 12, Bre Traylor 10, Kaycee Redwine 6, Lexi Stewart 4, Qua Fisher 4, Shataelyn King 2