PLEASANTON — A third-quarter push wasn’t enough for the Lady Apaches to knock off #3 Beeville last Friday as Gonzales ended their season as area finalists, losing 44-33 to the Trojans.
Future San Diego State University athlete Kamaria Gipson played a key role in Beeville’s win, as the Lady Apaches tried to limit her presence by assigning Hailey “Rio” Riojas to Gipson while placing Devon Williams down low in the paint.
“We knew we had to stop #11, we knew we had to make somebody else beat us,” Gonzales head coach Lance Butler said, “and she’s not going to San Diego State by fluke, she’s a monster, she hit shots, she played a big game.”
“Rio actually has a longer reach than Devon,” Butler said as he explained the team’s defensive philosophies for that matchup, “so we were trying to front with Rio and leave Devon in the middle and we were just going to leave the person in the corner to shoot it. If she made it she made it, if she didn’t she didn’t. We chased a little too much when we should have stayed put.”
The team’s defense was effective in the first quarter, limiting Gipson to four points. She was also in foul trouble early on with Williams attacking the basket. But in the second quarter, Gipson came away with 10 of Beeville’s 12 points to give the Trojans the 23-14 lead at halftime.
In the third, the Lady Apaches went on an 8-0 run to cut to the lead to two, with the help of baskets made by Williams, Rio and Jiseala “Chella” Longoria. But after the run, Chella appeared to hurt her ankle, cutting the momentum shift short.
“It was a good run to get us back into the game and then [Longoria] rolling that ankle at that time wasn’t [ideal],” Butler said, “but like I said, we’ve been preaching depth all year, next man up, and [Beeville] went on a 7 or 8-0 run right after that that turned out to be the difference.”
The Trojans would end the quarter on a 12-3 run to go up 10, a deficit that the Lady Apaches were unable to overcome.
“I truly believe this was a matchup where we play 10 times it gets split 5 and 5,” Butler added. “To go against the number one seed that’s 30-2 and won 24 in a row, to have that in the area round, to know we not just had a chance, but really everybody in that locker room expected to win. Couple shots go down, maybe a couple of theirs don’t, maybe things turn the other way.”
Williams ended the night with a team-leading 15 points. Sam Barnick finished with nine points while Riojas added five, Longoria had two and Madison Pirkle had two points
With the loss, the Lady Apaches end their season 27-10, second in District 30-4A and area finalists. Their bi-district win over Hondo was the team’s first time advancing to the area round since the 2009-10 season. Butler reflected on the season as well as the seniors on the team who had success the last four years.
“I think they posted right at 100 wins in four years, they were a very successful group and it has carried over to that junior group,” Butler said. “I expect this junior group to go out next year and put up another 20-plus-win season and hopefully on that, our junior high has seen the success, our girls have been interactive with them, so hopefully they’ll want to carry on the legacy that they started and that ended with that 2010 group. Getting that bi-district win, getting us back on the map is just the first stepping stone.”
“I told the girls afterwards, this season was special in every way,” he added. “God put me down here four and a half hours away and I told the girls, it was a blessing to me. I don’t know what I gave to them, but what I got in return can’t be measured. It was truly a blessing for me for sure.”