— By GREG WEBB
AUSTIN — The Aledo Ladycats took the floor in their first trip to “The Show” that is the UIL State Basketball Tournament, and looked like they were frequent residents of the tourney from the tip.
Senior Mallory Powell and sophomore Alyssa Dry scored the first seven points of the game, and harassed the Dallas Lincoln offense through the first five minutes of the game, rendering the Lady Tigers ineffective.
Aledo’s energy level was evident, as they came to leave it all on the floor, and Lincoln could not find its rhythm early on. But the tables turned in the second period and for the balance of the game, as the Ladycats shooting, and energy, cooled off.
The Lady Tigers built a 17-point advantage after the break that Aledo could not make up, falling in its inaugural trip to the state spectacle, 64-44.
Unforced errors plagued both teams, particularly in the second quarter, as possessions were many, but non-productive. The crisp ball handling the Ladycats displayed in the opening minutes of the contest gave way to turnovers, eventually taking a toll on the shooting.
“We quite frankly had a lot of trouble getting the ball down the court in the second period, and only scored three points,” said Aledo head coach Rusty Johnson. “ You have to give a lot of credit to Lincoln’s defense.
“But I’m very proud of how our girls played from the start, and kept fighting to the end.”
Aledo regained some of their energy in the final period, quickening the pace of the game, but had a hard time erasing the deficit, which hung around 15 points for much of the period. Lincoln, after settling into its double-digit lead, looked more like a team who had already been to the state tournament a dozen times prior.
Loose, and with time fading for Aledo, the Lady Tigers increased its lead down the stretch.
Powell, who sat for much of the third period with foul trouble, still managed 10 points on the night, but did not possess the deadly accuracy she had displayed in the regional tournament just a week before, earning the tourney’s MVP nod.. Megan Wood led Aledo scoring with 13 points.
Aledo finishes its season as the Class 4A, Region I Champs and state semifinalists, recording a 30-8 overall record.