Brackenridge wipes out eight-point deficit in final quarter, but falls to Rouse in area round
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Hays couldn’t anticipate the full ramifications of what it had done when it fouled Brackenridge senior guard Miranda Acuna repeatedly in the fourth quarter Tuesday at New Braunfels Canyon.
The Rebels probably were aware during the Class 4A bi-district game that the Eagles’ primary ballhandler was a proficient free-throw shooter. Hays, however, was unaware of the degree that Acuna had devoted to her art. We’re talking three years of 50 post-practice free throws a day when she might have been preparing for her evening’s pursuits.
Acuna made eight of the nine free throws she attempted. Six of them came at a crucial stage of the fourth quarter and helped Brackenridge (26-7) deliver a 55-49 win.
“I was nervous, but my teammates told me just to make them like I always do in practice,” said Acuna, who finished with 18 points. “I always shoot 50 free throws in practice, every day for the last three years.”
Unfortunately for the Eagles, they were eliminated a game later. No area girls teams advanced beyond the area round.
Hays (24-12) held a 44-36 lead when Amanda Benjamin nailed a three-point shot .6 seconds before the third-quarter buzzer.
The Rebels had led or been tied most of the time since breaking a 12-12 tie about 40 seconds into the second quarter on a rebound basket from 6-foot Jordyne Dugger (14 points, 8 rebounds). Hays scored the last seven points in the third quarter, starting with a rebound basket from 6-foot-4 Jill Borreson (14 points, 9 rebounds), a Columbia University signee.
“We didn’t have a very good offensive night,” Hays coach Danny Preuss said. “We had too many turnovers, and that enabled them to turn things around. They were making big shots and big plays.
“The last three or four minutes, we were missing layups and missing free throws. If we’d made them, we would have had a chance.”
The Eagles outscored the Rebels 19-5 and forced eight turnovers in the fourth quarter.
“We had to be aggressive and help on defense,” first-year Brackenridge coach Tamiko Matthews said. “Especially at the end, we came together as a team.”
Brackenridge scored the first six points in the final quarter. Junior Tevis Thomas (9 points, 6 rebounds, 4 steals) scored off a steal, Acuna scored on a runner and Sabrina Coronado added a basket to cut the Rebels’ lead to 44-42 with 6:17 left in the game.
“I felt really confident, because we had played Brennan twice,” Thomas said, referring to the state’s top-ranked team. “We knew that Hays would be really good. As long as we played together and had each other’s backs, we knew we could get the win.”
The Eagles didn’t regain the lead until junior Skyler Reyna (20 points, 4 rebounds, 3 steals) converted a steal into a layup with 54.9 seconds to play. Reyna, who was bothered by leg cramps, fought through the pain to finish the game.
“I didn’t want to come out,” Reyna said. “I would have felt like I was giving up on my team. We played together. Everybody played like it was our last game.”
Acuna made three free throws to establish a 54-48 lead with about 15.5 seconds left. Hays turned the ball over on its last two possessions and Thomas sank a free throw that sealed the win.
“Especially with Skyler hurt, we needed people to step up,” Acuna said. “My teammates were telling me I should take the ball to the basket.
“It feels good. This is my senior year. I didn’t want it to end. I needed to make my free throws, and when I did, it felt great.”
Brackenridge advanced to play Leander Rouse Friday in Leander. Rouse (26-8) won the area-round game on its home court 76-42.
“They were definitely a run-and-gun type of team,” Matthews said. “We just didn’t respond with total intensity. They had a lot of seniors and lots of experience.”
Acuna scored a team-high 17 points for the Eagles. Thomas contributed nine points and senior Brittney Morales scored eight in her final game.
Mariah Merriweather led Raiders with 19 points. Rouse led 45-28 at halftime. The Raiders only added two points to their lead in the third quarter while Brack scored nine, but they surged again in the final period for a comfortable win.
“We had a really good third quarter,” Matthews said. “That was about the only quarter when we hung with them. When they got the ball across into halfcourt, they were putting up three(-pointers). We didn’t have the intensity we had in the (last) Brennan game or the Hays game, but they were a different team.”
Reyna was not at full strength and mustered just four points.
“Skyler played but she wasn’t herself,” Matthews said. “She was having issues with her knees.”
Although she had hoped to guide her team deeper into the playoffs, Matthews was satisfied with her first season at Brackenridge.
“(The seniors) were leaders, with only a few exceptions,” she said. “We had some issues, but overall it was a very successful season. I’m looking forward to next year, because our juniors coming up are leaders as well. That’s always a positive.
“I really feel blessed to have had the leaders I had on the team. We didn’t have a lot of players who were fundamentally sound, but I enjoyed working with them and was really happy to see how far they came.”
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