Coaches always say that you can learn more from a loss than a win sometimes and last Friday’s contest against El Campo could be just that for the Sealy Lady Tigers and head coach Anthony Branch.
A “whole new team” took the floor in the second half to chip away at a 30-12 deficit against last year’s undefeated-in-district Lady Ricebirds.
“We talked about how we just had a bad quarter and they had a good quarter and that was the difference,” he said of the message at the halftime break. “We had to go man on defense and we didn’t let No. 21 (junior Mya Shorter) score in the second half but we did a much better job, we communicated and really it’s all on them. They just finally did the things we’ve been talking about and they communicated with each other, that was the biggest thing.”
Most of the damage was done by Evelyn Harrington who registered six-point quarters in both the third and fourth en route to leading the team with 13 points by the final buzzer. Kayla Camacho, Julia Jurecka and Avery Oliver complemented those efforts and made it a single-digit point differential but there was just not quite enough time left to complete the comeback, ultimately falling by a 47-41 score.
“Like we say in Aggieland, ‘We didn’t lose we just ran out of time,’” Branch added. “In the Wharton game, there were two or three possessions that made the difference, against Royal here, it was four possessions. We’re talking about 10 possessions being the difference between us being 4-0 and 1-3 in district. We’re not done.”
The coach added the difference was made coming into last week and was carried throughout despite being barred from the win column.
“Even though we’re 1-3 in district, this week changed this team,” Branch said. “It started Monday at practice and in the game on Tuesday they gained confidence. We had a good practice on Wednesday, yesterday (Thursday) we went against the freshmen boys and they saw that they can do some things and they finally started to look confident.”
Now, it becomes a matter of continuing those good feelings into this week of competition that saw the Lady Tigers travel to Fulshear Tuesday evening before playing host to Stafford Friday night.
“We’re not done, we’re going to bring our chair to the table and we’re going to eat, that’s our plan,” Branch stated. “That’s the hinge we’ve talked about because we’ve got to bring it. Nobody’s going to just let us have it. This group of kids is starting to figure it out; they’re starting to play with passion and with fire and making good decisions.”
Of course, he’s not all alone on the bench and credited his assistants for some of the success as well.
“I’m getting great help from our assistants. Caroline Owen has been at all of the games, Danielle Eschenburg helps me on the bench, Sydney Jones is helping as well. She takes care of things so that I don’t have to,” Branch said. “Just being able to have someone to discuss things with at the timeouts has been huge.”
At the end of the day, the coach was excited his team is starting to play loose and enjoy the game.
“I’m pleased, it’s getting fun as long as we keep having fun and if we focus on playing each possession, the results will take care of themselves,” Branch said.