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Stories Added - March 2009
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Lady Eagles fall short of state title
Tyler County Booster - March 2009
When the 2008-09 high school girl’s basketball season began last fall, two hundred and thirty Class 2A teams took to the court with hopes of making the ultimate trip – a journey to the U.I.L. state championship tournament in Austin, an event reserved for the four best. For the Woodville Lady Eagles, those hopes became a reality last week as they boarded their capital-bound bus as Region 3 champions. It was a return trip for Coach Danny Buchanan’s girls as they had traveled the same route last year and, on Thursday morning, they were reminded by their coaches that their first objective was to make it past the first round and get to the title game this time around. “I think we’re better prepared this time, most of the girls were there last year and know what to expect as far as being in the spotlight goes,” Coach Buchanan said. “The other teams that will be there are all bigger but I doubt they know much about us and I think our quickness will be an advantage. We got a good draw and we’ve got a great shot at getting to the final.” The Lady Eagles took on Salado in their Friday morning semi-final and made good on their promise to do better. The girls took the lead midway through the first quarter and never surrendered it as they won what turned out to be a thriller, 61-50. Woodville’s defense was the key to the win as they played Salado evenly inside but outscored them heavily on fastbreaks and points off turnovers. The Woodville girls played relentlessly and held a 16-point lead with just over five minutes to go in the game when five straight turnovers led to a Salado points rally. Buchanan used two timely timeouts as his teams lead dwindled to just four points and the team responded by regrouping and pulling back away. Junior point guard Brooke Taylor had a super game Friday, scoring 17 to lead the team, getting 10 rebounds and making good with 7 assists. She iced 5 of 6 free throws in the final two minutes as Salado tried to force their way back in. Post player Meisha McNeal had 12 points in the win and both Kayla Humphrey and Samantha Gilder put up 10 points. Quadena Moye, who had two three’s, scored 8 and Janae Dosie finished with 4. McNeal, who pulled in a dozen rebounds, played the entire 32 minutes as did Taylor and Humphrey. “This was a good game even though we kind of lost our focus for a while towards the end,” Buchanan said afterwards. “I think the girls started worrying about not losing and got tight, they got back, though and that’s what counts. Janae did a great job on defense for us, we made our free throws and Brooke played an outstanding game.” The semi-final victory put the team in the state championship game and up against a perennially strong Brock squad. Brock was no stranger to the annual Austin event, having visited the final four fifteen previous years and coming away with three top trophies in 2002, 2003 and 2005. The two teams battled each other warily in the first period Saturday as their styles were quite different – the Woodville girls relying on quickness and Brock relying on their height and inside strength. Meisha opened the scoring in the first quarter with an outside jump shot and the Lady Eagles had the first lead. Sadly, it turned out to be the only one they could get that day as Brock took over in the second quarter and began to steadily pull away. They led 26-12 at halftime. In the third and fourth quarters, Brock continued to play tough inside and their defense began to show it’s own quickness, too, as they forced turnovers and made good on their transitions. In the end, the Lady Eagles were forced to settle for being number two as Brock went on to win 61-32. “We didn’t really play our best but Brock is a team that can play with any team here this weekend, 5A included,” Coach Buchanan said as he watched his team leave the court. “The bottom line is that they were the better team today – bigger, stronger and they played extremely well. Our girls have nothing to hang their heads about, they played hard, they left it all out their on the court, they just ran into a better team today. To be a finalist out of all the teams in the state is big.” It may take a while for the team to get past the type of loss they suffered but as they do they will know that this year’s finish was better than the last. One step closer. All but two can return next season. They have proven they can play against adversity with targets on their backs and the best guess has to be that they will be back.