COLEMAN — The Brookesmith Lady Mustangs season came to an end after falling to the eighth-ranked Eula Lady Pirates 43-27 Friday night.
The Lady Mustangs seemed primed for an upset, taking a brief lead in the first on a -pointer by guard Whitley Been and a layup by guard Laramie Nelson, but the Lady Pirates shutdown any further momentum with their press defense.
“We turned the ball over a few times, but I’m really proud of these girls,” Brookesmith coach Danny Copeland said. “They did something that hadn’t been done in five years. These girls have never been to the playoffs. They’ve never seen a gold ball. Their ambition was to get a gold ball this year and they got that.”
With Brookesmith struggling to break the press, Eula gave themselves some breathing room. Lady Pirate guard Anna Masonheimer distanced the Lady Mustangs with three steals in the first quarter with majority of her team-leading 11 points coming off fast-break steals or benefiting from costly fouls by going 6 of 6 from the line. A close-range shot by guard Khloe Brummett and another 3-pointer by Been kept Brookesmith in contention, but the Lady Mustangs could not keep pace with Eula.
“It was our lack of rebounds. We could have rebounded better and we’ll fix that next year,” said Been, who scored a team-leading 9 points. “I’m hoping we grow a little, that will definitely help, but we’re definitely going to fix it next year and we’re definitely going to have everyone back. We’re going for more than one gold ball next year.”
After going into halftime with a 7-point cushion, 20-13, Eula remained in a full-court press through regulation. When the Lady Mustangs made it beyond half court, and avoided Masonheimer intercepting an errant perimeter pass, they had success. Guard Katie Harris seemed to heat up in the third quarter, staving off a double-digit deficit until late in the third quarter with a contested layup and jumper. Shots by Harris, Nelson and Brummett cut Eula’s lead to 11 midway through the fourth quarter, but they could not rebound from their previous struggles and Copeland eventually opted to his bench with under a minute left.
“I was just trying to motivate them and keep our heads up,” Been said. “I let them know ‘we were still in it, no matter what the scoreboard says. We can always comeback.’”
Although the comeback did not happen Friday night, the Lady Mustangs and staff hope for a much different conclusion for the 2020-2021 season with the entire roster returning. Been said her teammates are already planning for the offseason Copeland believes he has a core group of players reading to make a deep run in the postseason next year.
“There are no seniors on this team and I’m hoping, with a little hard work, we come out next season and we’re firing away. Going 21-8 is not bad for a group of girls who hadn’t reached that 20-game pinnacle in a long time,” Copeland said.