Heading into a Christmas tournament, Sealy girls’ basketball dropped a pair of district games, the latter one by only single digits.
Lady Tiger Head Coach Anthony Branch knows his team may be young but a minor lack of depth will only lower the average age for a span of six games in three days.
Two of the top scoring freshman and junior varsity players got the call-up to the big squad to start their transition process to adjusting to the top-tier of high school basketball.
Branch was trying not to rush some of his players in hopes that they wouldn’t get discouraged about not performing well while being thrusted into a higher level of play but he knew there would be no way seven players in black and gold would be enough to get them through the tournament.
“It’ll be important to get those girls some breathers,” Branch noted. “That’s a lot for just seven girls.”
Those girls came off a pair of district losses, including the first dropped contest to Royal since Branch took over.
The host Falcons used a 24-0 run to start the second quarter which reached into the third frame to really distance the two teams.
“It’s disappointing from a coaching perspective but we just have to use it as good experience,” Branch said. “And we’ll be ready to go when we see them again.”
Coach Branch noted that run sort of shocked the team but at the same time, the Lady Tigers were struggling to take care of the ball and were turning the ball over, all but giving away Royal buckets.
But it wasn’t all bad, as senior Diari Dabney got going down low again, grabbing eight points to lead the team which was a performance Branch needed to see.
“We’re a lot better with her going well,” Branch added of Dabney’s performance which also included four rebounds. “We have to make sure she gets her touches and that she makes those easy shots.”
Sophomore and Tiger of the Week Avery Oliver showed additional poise in the post, cleaning up the boards with eight rebounds to lead the team.
There was some momentum to take from that game heading into a matchup in Freeport with the Brazosport Exporters and Sealy put up a much better fight.
Another scorer that Branch needed to get going was junior Zoee Jeffrey, who ended up leading the team with 15 points by the final buzzer.
“She played a lot better game,” Branch mentioned. “She still rushed some shots behind the three-point line but she also has to score and we got her some good looks for her to get her confidence up.”
Jeffrey supplemented those points with five rebounds, three assists and a trio of steals as well but it wasn’t quite enough to hand Brazosport a loss as the host Exporters walked off with a 57-50 win.
Dabney added another eight-point performance to register a team second-best point production, as did freshman Evelyn Harrington.
Junior Bri Self was right behind them with seven but led the team in the rebound-category by pulling down 10 rebounds.
Before the tournament kicked off, Branch noted he is always concerned with the wins and losses, but that stretch of games jam-packed into only a few days also served as the initial taste of varsity basketball for those call-ups.
“I am worried about the wins and I’m not,” Branch said. “We need to get them some breathers and this will be the introduction for a few players that will certainly be able to help us next year.”
With the new year already underway, one resolution for the Lady Tigers will be to put the ball in the hole more consistently according to Branch, as in the end, the team with the most points wins the game.
One thing that he knows will help with that is constantly working on the squad’s footwork as every shot starts and ends with the feet.
“It all starts with the footwork,” Branch stated. “If someone misfires they ask, ‘What’s wrong?’ ‘Well, look at your feet, they’ll tell you the whole story.’”