Despite a 12-0 run to close the first half and send the game to halftime tied at 18, the visiting Fulshear Lady Chargers rode the wave of a 22-point fourth quarter to a 52-41 win, spoiling the Sealy Lady Tigers’ final home basketball game Friday.
After falling behind 14-4 in the second quarter, Heaven Hernandez responded with a basket and-one, providing the first three points of 12 unanswered to help the Lady Tigers claw their way back into the game. Julia Jurecka scored four points in the paint in that stretch, Evelyn Harrington and Maraya Martinez added a bucket each and Brylie Bond split a pair of free throws, making it a 16-16 game near the end of the first half.
“Once we got that three-point play on that back cut (we were feeling good),” said head coach Anthony Branch after Friday’s loss. “We had a couple of back cuts that were really nice. We worked on it yesterday because we had not been doing that and I thought we did a really good job of that tonight.”
Sealy carried that momentum into the third quarter where Harrington dropped eight points, with six coming from behind the three-point arc, to put the hosts in front, 31-30, after three quarters of play.
Those eight points, on top of her four in the first half, pushed Harrington into the double digits for all five district contests at home. In the past weeks, she registered 11 points against Wharton, 10 against Needville, 13 against El Campo and 21 against Royal, her fourth 20-point game of the year.
It was in the fourth quarter that Fulshear’s Jordyn Watson got going, scoring four quick points and adding a momentum-changing block before fouling out. From there, the show was given over to the capable hands of Ese Ogbevire and Victoria Obisike who finished off their 22- and 13-point performances, respectively, pushing the game to its final resting spot of 52-41 in favor of the visiting Lady Chargers.
“We were able to get them in foul trouble and then we were able to take advantage of some things,” Branch said. “I kept telling them we had about three really good looks, maybe four, that were right there and just didn't go down, it went in and out … Like I told them, I don't know how many games we were
right there in the game and we let it slip away or we're right there and we have a chance, but we can't break through.”
Branch’s squad will only be losing one senior, Zoee Jeffrey, who has certainly been missed on the floor this year after suffering a back injury that sidelined her for the season. Still, she has set an example in her three years at the school and Branch acknowledged her impact.
“She's able to help talk to the girls and tell them things that they need to hear and sometimes she'll say things to fire them up, she's a very fired player and we hate that we didn't have her,” Branch said. “She's one of the better rebounders, she could knock down the three, she's a defender; we really missed that other person. She could score 10 or 12 points, and then you throw in Evelyn's 10 or 12 points and then everybody else gets a little bit more and they feed off each other.”
Still, he’s looking forward to getting back to work with the returning group that will only continue getting better with more playing time together.
“All you gotta do is 30 minutes a day. You do that four days a week, heck, even three days, you will see a vast improvement,” he said of the offseason expectations. “I told them that next year's practices are going to be competitive, it's going to be like a game. Because we do have some kids that I think can do it. We've gotten skilled, we keep getting better. We work on those things. We just have got to get in the gym because the teams we're going to play next year are athletic, we have to be smarter, we have to be able to run our offense.”
Before then, though, the regular season came to an end earlier this week in Stafford where Branch was looking forward to checking one more thing off the list.
“We want to end the season on a positive note,” Branch said Friday night. “Not too many teams win their last game of the year other than state champions. Even though we're not going to get that, we want try to win that last game of the year to have a good feeling and make sure we're at least in fifth by ourselves.”