— By GREG WEBB
STEPHENVILLE — Tarleton State University has yet to hang a Brock pennant anywhere in Wisdom Gym, but the TSU staff is certainly familiar enough with the blue and gold-clad Lady Eagles, who have made the annual trip to Stephenville for nearly a decade.
“The Drum” in Austin will also see Brock’s girls again this year, as the Lady Eagles earned another reservation to the University Interscholastic League State Basketball Tournament with a 39-33 win over previously-unbeaten Sunnyvale on Saturday.
In the Class 2A Region II final, Sunnyvale was unimpressed with Brock’s “ownership” of the facility, bringing its 34-0 record to bear against the Lady Eagles in a hard-fought contest.
A Rachel Williams steal with barely a minute left in the game followed by a Bailey Ivey layup gave Brock the advantage it had been working for the entire game. The Lady Eagles’ defense stiffened in the final minute as Sunnyvale tried to come back, as they had several times during the game, but to no avail.
Ivey’s three at the mid-point of the final period gave Brock a lead at 27-24. Less than a minute later, Ivey made the first of two free throws, and was picked by Lexie Ducat’s putback when the second missed its mark.
But Sunnyvale stayed close with a 3-point shot on their next possession and pulled to within a point at the two-minute mark.
Ducat struck again with a feed inside, prompting a timeout from the Sunnyvale bench.
But momentum remained with Brock, who were proficient at both ends of the court in the waning seconds.
The finale was a far cry from the first period. Defense and a few missed layups were dominant in the opening quarter, with an unlikely conclusion of a 4-0 lead by Sunnyvale going into the second.
Brock adjusted, but the defenses at both ends were still prevalent, with only a 10-7 count by halftime. But the Lady Eagles’ scoring was more prolific in the second half, with Ducat, Rachel Harrell and Ivey all scoring in double figures.
In Friday night’s semifinal, the lack of scoring was a factor again — for the first quarter, anyway. Bailey Ivey hit a three on the Lady Eagles first possession, but the quick score was hardly a foreshadowing of the scoring pace in the opening period. Brock took an 8-4 lead over Life Oak Cliff’s Lady Lions by the 4-minute mark, then both offenses shut down for the rest of the quarter. But, the second period was an indication of the balance of the match as the Lady Eagles found their rhythm, and LOC did not.
Brock controlled the game much more dominantly than the final count of 48-32 indicated.
The Lady Eagles jumped out to a 22-9 lead by halftime and were never threatened again in the game.
The Lady Eagles will be vying for their sixth-straight basketball championship when they take the floor at Irwin Center on Friday. Brock is 34-2 on the season.