No. 3 San Saba girls stay undefeated, open district play with big road win
GOLDTHWAITE — The San Saba girls’ basketball team began this season with high expectations, considering the Lady Dillos returned eight of 10 varsity players from a regional runner-up finish last season. So far, the Lady Dillos have been right on schedule.
San Saba, ranked No. 3 in this week’s Texas Association of Basketball Coaches Class 2A poll, improved to 11-0 Tuesday night with a 54-32 win over the Goldthwaite Lady Eagles in the District 29-2A opener for both teams.
Forward Courtnee Cash scored 22 points on 7-of-10 shooting from the field, including a perfect 4-of-4 on 3-point attempts. The 5-foot-9 senior who has signed to play collegiately for Cameron University of the Lone Star Conference, shot effectively from the outside, drove inside to the basket and helped with the Lady Dillos’ ball handling.
“I felt like we moved the ball well on offense and got some really good looks at the basket,” said Alicia Cummings, the Lady Dillos’ 10th-year head coach. “We have a lot of weapons and good balance on offense.
“This was a good win for us tonight because Goldthwaite is a rivalry game, and they have a lot of tradition. It was a nice win on the road.”
The other Lady Dillos followed Cash’s lead as San Saba shot 50 percent (17 of 35) from the field during the first three quarters and led 45-21 entering the fourth quarter. Guard Brighton Adams added 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting from the field and 3-of-4 from the free-throw line.
“Courtnee is athletic as all get out,” Cummings said. “She can play inside. She can shoot from the outside. It’s nice to have her on our side for sure.
“Brighton Adams, our point guard, scored 12 points and controlled the game for us. She can shoot and create a lot for us, offensively, with her penetration. I thought Cash and Adams really set the tone for us tonight.”
San Saba also played solid defense, often forcing Goldthwaite to make multiple passes around the perimeter without being able to get the ball closer to the basket.
“On defense, we try to keep people out of the paint because that’s where people can hurt you by getting the ball into the low post or by penetrating,” Cummings said. “I thought we had good ball pressure and disrupted their (Goldthwaite’s) guards some. We were hoping to do that because we have some length out there.”
Cash’s baseline drive for a layup made it 47-21 in the opening minute of the fourth quarter. A 3-pointer by Braycie Vickery plus two free throws by Landri Glover gave San Saba its largest lead at 52-21 before Goldthwaite rallied.
The Lady Dillos darted from the opening tip, racing to a 13-3 lead by converting five Goldthwaite turnovers into 11 points in the first 3:30. Cash, who looks to be 100-percent recovered from a knee injury last season, scored nine of the Lady Dillos’ first 13 points. By game’s end, San Saba had converted 22 Goldthwaite turnovers into 29 points.
Of course, the 800-pound gorilla in the room -- the Mason Cowgirls -- await San Saba in the District 29-2A schedule. The Lady Dillos and Cowgirls are scheduled to play Jan. 12 at San Saba and Feb. 5 at Mason. It should be noted, though, that the Cowgirls currently are not playing because of COVID-19 and will face a series of makeup district games.
Mason has beaten San Saba in the last three Region IV tournament championship games with a state berth on the line.
“We’re trying to get past that point,” Cummings said of the regional finals. “It’s something that drives these kids. But they look at it as an opportunity, not something that’s weighing on them.
“We sometimes get tied up in thinking about how we can get better, and we don’t ever sit back and enjoy the success these kids have had. They’ve had four straight 30-win seasons, and some people don’t realize how hard that is to accomplish.”
With two district showdowns with Mason ahead, plus the expectations of another deep playoff run, it might be understandable for some veteran teams to lack motivation for early season games. But not so at San Saba, Cumming said.
“These kids are competitors. They practice well, and they enjoy the game. I really don’t have to work at getting them up for games early in the season,” Cummings said. “That’s what's special about this group -- their love for the game. It’s fun to coach them.
“As much as I want to accomplish those things and get past regional, these kids want it, too.”
San Saba 54, Goldthwaite 32
San Saba 18 13 14 9 —54
Goldthwaite 10 5 6 11 — 32
SAN SABA: Nojemi Martinez 2 0-0 4, Brighton Adams 4 3-4 12, Courtnee Cash 9 0-0 22, Jaedah Lambert 1 0-0 3, Landri Glover 1 2-2 4, Lexy Amthor 1 0-2 2, Braycie Vickery 1 0-0 3, Madison Shahan 1 0-0 2, Karlee Reed 1 0-0 2, Totals 21 5-8 54.
GOLDTHWAITE: Taylor Rountree 3 6-7 12, Emma Grebe 3 0-0 9, Logyn Rountree 2 1-2 6, Jasmine Balencia 0 1-2 1, Karleigh Bolt 1 0-0 2, Britni Roberts 1 0-0 2, Totals 10 7-10 32.
3-point goals: San Saba 7 (Cash 4, Adams, Lambert, Vickery). Goldthwaite 4 (Grebe 3, L. Rountree). Records: San Saba 11-0, 1-0 in District 29-2A. Goldthwaite 6-7,