BANGS— The Bangs Lady Dragons face playoff elimination Tuesday against district rival Hamilton after the Early Lady Longhorns blindsided them in a 35-28 upset.
The Lady Longhorns size underneath seemed to prove the difference as Ellie Ryan and Kacee Gober forced the Lady Dragons’ offense into low-percentage shooting situations in the perimeter and throughout the night.
“When Ellie fouled out we had to step it up from the outside and our outside shots really worked tonight … It feels amazing. We lost to them at our house so to beat them in their house feels great,” said Gober, who tied for the team lead with Ryan in scoring with 9 points while also picking up 12 rebounds and an assist.
Bangs picked up steam early after a contested layup by Sydney Horton as well as free throws by guards Trenedi Deal and Kenzie Baker gave them the advantage, but a steady stream of blocks by Gober stymied Bangs’ momentum. Ryan’s pair of close-range shots and free throws attributed the bulk of her scoring and eventually gave her team the lead with guard Taylor Summer and forward Emily Jillson, who had 6 rebounds, picking up the slack on the perimeter when Bangs crashed the boards to better matchup with Ryan and Gober.
“With Ellie, we were supposed to not let her catch the ball in the post, but she did a good job of getting in there and working anyway,” Bangs coach Kenneth Prescott said. “Coach (Chris) Moody does a good job of getting her the ball, even when we’re trying to deny it. We frustrated her and caused her to get in foul trouble to get her out, but there are still three more big bodies. Gober had an impact on us. She blocked a few shots early so when we got open layups we didn’t shoot them like we were hoping.”
Early held the lead until the fourth quarter, when the Lady Dragons battled back to eventually take a brief 27-23 lead. Freshman guard Jacee Miller ignited the Lady Dragons with jumper over Gober at close range, followed by a lay-in by Deal, who scored a team-leading 7 points. Early eventually slowed down the pace and regained momentum after Gober sank a pair of jumpers from outside the lane. Jillson sealed the game with a bucket and a pair of free throws, securing the Lady Longhorns second district victory of the season.
“Kacee hit one huge jump shot after another to tie it up. It’s just a rivalry,” Moody said. “In this gym, it plays tricks with your eyes a little bit with your depth perception. In this gym, nothing is a given whether you’re undefeated or struggling. It’s a dogfight when these two teams meet.”
The Lady Dragons will try to keep their playoff hopes alive Tuesday. when they face Hamilton in a fight for the fourth and final district playoff spot. Early will need to win out, and get bit lucky with a few upsets, keeps their playoff hopes alive. The Lady Longhorns will face Dublin. Tip off for both games are set for 6 p.m.