After starting near the basement of the district standings in the first round, Sealy has now rattled off a trio of victories in a row to be thrust right in the mix to possibly play a spoiler role to a bonafide playoff team.
The top team to give some trouble will be the El Campo Ricebirds who sit atop the standings entering Tuesday’s competition with a clean 10-0 record and the district’s No. 1 seed already wrapped up. They also served as the next competition for the Lady Tigers Tuesday night.
But, Sealy head coach Anthony Branch can’t get too far ahead of himself and he has been pleading to his team to just take things one step at a time.
“We can’t worry about anything other than winning each quarter,” Branch said. “Not even looking at the whole game, we have to focus on certain standards in order to win every quarter. If we’ve got 30 things to do this quarter, they can’t think about anything else.”
That mentality was personified to close out last week’s only meeting in Wharton where another late-game do-or-die situation arose.
Branch mentioned it was another game where his squad had a lead but the opponents started to come back. Especially with some key players in foul trouble, it looked as though it was going to be another one added to the long list of games that slipped away.
But down the stretch, his Lady Tigers banded together and closed things out, making the shots they had to and stopping the opposing Lady Tigers when needed as well, with multiple key blocks being provided by sophomore Avery Oliver.
Oliver finished the game with six blocks although Branch thought a seventh should have been added although a foul call wiped it away. But he talked of her impact coming about because of the way she’s been playing.
“She has been stepping up huge,” Branch said of Oliver’s recent play. “She’s been playing with confidence,” and that has been reflected with a near double-double average over her last stretch.
In this three-game winning streak, Oliver has averaged 9.3 points per game, 13 rebounds and 4.7 blocks and Branch knows she’s got even more in the tank.
Another player he relied upon down the stretch in the Wharton contest was Kayla Camacho, who he moved down to the low post despite her lack of height that is normally unknown to players near the basket.
But with the foul trouble forcing Diari Dabney to the bench, it was Camacho who filled in at the four position and held it down, cleaning up a team second-best 10 rebounds with eight of them coming in the defensive end to provide more chances for her teammates instead of her opponents.
Although Dabney did meander into some foul trouble, she still ended the game with the most points (19) and rebounds (15) for a player in black and gold, helping her team to a 46-30 victory.
That win moved Sealy’s district record to 4-5 which is good enough for a fifth-place spot, right outside the playoff picture.
Wharton is the team ahead of them entering Tuesday but Friday’s game set those Lady Tigers back to a 5-5 mark, possibly leaving the door open for Sealy.
But again, Branch knows not to get too far, although he knows his squad has the opportunity to control their own destiny, they’ll have to do it in these last three games, two of which come against teams already entrenched in the playoff picture.