Down by seven points to start the final period, the Gonzales Lady Apaches outscored the Nixon-Smiley Lady Mustangs, 22-13, over the final eight minutes to claim a 54-52 win at home Friday, Nov. 12.
Gonzales improved to 1-1 overall with the victory, while the loss dropped Nixon-Smiley to 1-1 overall as well.
The game was won for the Lady Apaches with tough defense in the final period and at the free throw line, as Gonzales hit 18-of-28 (64.3 percent) from the charity stripe, compared to just 9-of-21 (42.9 percent) for Nixon-Smiley.
“The game could have easily gone either way. We made some big shots in the fourth and had some stops late,” Gonzales coach Mike Fowler said. We also did a decent job from the free throw line to give ourselves a chance. Of course we have to fix the things that caused us to get in a deficit in the first place, but I will take that effort every single time.”
“The Gonzales game was a good test for us,” Nixon-Smiley Coach Jordan Estrada said. “Coach Fowler's team is very athletic and has good size, which isn't something that we see very often. We started off strong and played hard throughout all four quarters, but struggled to stay out of foul trouble. By the end of the third quarter I had three starters in foul trouble, two of which ended up fouling out halfway through the final quarter. This has been an issue for us, and is definitely something that we will continue to work on as the season continues.”
The Lady Apaches were originally supposed to host Smithville, but their game was canceled because the Smithville Tiger football team made the playoffs. Meanwhile, Nixon-Smiley was not originally scheduled to play after a road win at Yorktown.
“It ended up being a great test for us,” Fowler said. “Coach Estrada has that team playing hard. They jumped on us early and really tested our resolve. I am extremely proud of how our girls responded and fought to the end.
“With what happened to us against La Grange on Tuesday, and then going down early in this game, we could have mailed it in. Our girls battled through adversity and never gave up. Our hustle and effort gave us a chance at the end and luckily things worked out.”
The game was tight in the first several minutes, but by the end of the first quarter, Nixon-Smiley had claimed an 11-4 advantage. The Lady Mustangs were able to increase that lead to double digits, but Gonzales battled back and actually tied the score late in the second period before a late Nixon-Smiley run gave the visitors a 25-19 lead at the break.
The third period saw the teams nearly match each other, point for point, with the Lady Mustangs getting 14 and the Lady Apaches getting 13 to make the score 39-32 with the final stanza to unfold.
Somehow, despite falling behind by double digits early in the period and starters Niyanha Lowery and Delaini Seger-Gordon fouling out late in the contest, Gonzales was able to go on a 20-8 run to finish their improbable comeback.
Madison York led the Lady Apaches with 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting, including a perfect 2-of-2 from three point range. She also had five rebounds, seven steals and 10 deflections. Audrey Martinez had 10 points, six rebounds and five assists and four deflections. Seger-Gordon added eight points (including a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw stripe) as well as four rebounds and three steals and Lowery had seven points and 10 rebounds before both fouled out of the game.
Other scorers included Bella Aguero (five points, four steals), Macy Sample (five points, four rebounds), Sydney McCray (four points, two steals) and Nancy Nino (two points, three steals).
“Gonzales knocked down a few big shots down the stretch and did a great job from the free throw line,” Estrada said. “Overall I am proud of how hard my team played, especially those who stepped up in different positions. It was definitely a good learning experience for us as a team.”
Nixon-Smiley’s Greenlee Houseton led all scorers with 23 points and added seven rebounds, three steals and four deflections. Deanna Amaya had seven points and eight rebounds, while Abby Fox had six points, nine rebounds and three steals before fouling out, and Kendall Amaya had six points, six rebounds, three assists and eight deflections.
Other Lady Mustang scorers included Mady Velasquez (five points, three rebounds) and Natalee Mendez (five points, six rebounds, 11 deflections).
The Lady Apaches shot 30.9 percent from the field, compared to 34.5 percent for Nixon-Smiley, who also had the advantage on rebounds, 47-40. Gonzales led in steals, 22-12.
Fowler said the Lady Apaches were to host Needville on Tuesday, Nov. 16, before heading off to the Floresville tournament on Thursday, Nov. 18.
“We open against 6A San Antonio Taft and they have a lot of size,” Fowler said. “On Friday we had a ton of grit and energy and we better bring that mindset if we want to compete against bigger programs.”
Nixon-Smiley was to play at Falls City on Tuesday, Nov. 16, and at Runge on Friday, Nov. 19.
“This group of girls is exciting to coach, and we're looking forward to our games this week against Falls City and Runge,” Estrada said.