LULING — The Nixon-Smiley Lady Mustangs are headed to the playoffs after beating the Yoakum Lady Bulldogs in a fourth-seed play-in game on Friday 50-34. Nixon-Smiley took advantage of an injury and confused Yoakum’s offense by showing them different looks on the defensive end, allowing just 12 points in the first half and 18 after three quarters.
“Defense was definitely the story of the night,” Nixon-Smiley head coach Doug Boatright said. “We came in and we knew we had to put the hammer down. We had to hold them steady. It helped big time that [Yoakum’s starting post player] was out for them, she’s a big part of their game plan, she’s a heck of an athlete. It made it easy for us defensively to where we can settle in and do some of the things we like to do on defense.”
The Lady Mustangs used a mixture of a full-court man, 2-3 zone and even added some trapping to force turnovers.
On the offensive end, senior Faith Pullin had a big night, scoring a team-leading 23 points. Kiara Andrada was second with seven points, followed by Katie Tschoepe with five.
Most of Pullin’s scoring came down low, though Pullin showed her range, converting on a pair of three pointers as well as shooting 7-of-9 from the free-throw line.
“The thing is, we just got her back from injury and before that, she had a rough second half of district,” Boatright explained. “Injury kept her out a couple of games but she’s a senior and I told her tonight when we walked in here, I said, ‘it’s do or die. If you want to live another day, we got to play ball.’ And she came ready to play ball.”
The first-year head coach also highlighted the plays of Lilliana Jenks, Kiara Andrada, Gracelyn Mejia, Katie Tschoepe and freshmen Greenlee Houseton and Abby Fox.
“I could go down the list,” Boatright touted. “Everybody contributed positives to the game, so that’s a big thing. That definitely helped. If we plan on making a run in the playoffs, we’re going to need depth.”
Nixon-Smiley’s first test will be against Schulenburg, the District 28-3A champions. The Lady Mustangs are familiar with the Shorthorns, with both teams competing in the same district the last two seasons.
“They’re big and we’re going to have to play tough defense,” Boatright scouted, “but luckily on our part we came out of a tough district with Poth, Luling and Karnes City, Yoakum is tough, not going to knock them, Stockdale is tough, you know, our district was tough. That’s one thing that our girls are capable of doing, fight tooth-and-nail for every point, every loose ball, every rebound. That’s going to help us.”
The Nixon-Smiley Lady Mustangs travel to Flatonia on Tuesday to take on Schulenburg, with tipoff scheduled at 6:30 p.m.