Sam Houston holds off Lanier
AREA TEAMS INCLUDED: Lanier, Sam Houston.
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Those acquainted with late Sam Houston girls basketball coach Milyse Lamkin knew her as a fighter.
Lamkin died of cancer in August after a years-long battle. The players she had intended to coach this season have done their best to carry on that fighting spirit, and that desire carried them to a 58-53 triumph over Lanier Jan. 13 at the Alamo Convocation Center.
“It’s kind of hard, but we always keep fighting,” said Sam Houston senior forward Monisha Jones, who was playing with an ankle sprain. “We don’t put heads down.”
The Hurricanes (12-7, 7-2) rode a 10-2 fourth-quarter spurt to victory against Lanier (15-11, 7-3) in a battle for second place in 28-5A. The Voks remained in the hunt by winning a close game Jan. 16, defeating Burbank (9-17, 2-8) 53-51.
Against Sam Houston, Lanier closed within 52-49 at the Alamo Convocation Center on a three-point possession with 1:20 remaining. Amanda Reyes made one of two free throws. Voks senior Destiny Garza rebounded the missed foul shot and passed to junior Ruby Garza (23 points)
The Voks then had a chance to tie the game when Brandi Mojica launched a three-point shot from the corner.
“I thought it was going in,” Lanier coach Laura Negrete-Fernandez admitted. “As much as they got ahead, if we would have made a few more free throws it would have helped.”
Lanier began the game scoring in increments of three, whether on three-point baskets or three-point plays.
A three-pointer from Ruby Garza supplied an 11-6 lead with 1:37 left in the first quarter.
“That was really our goal,” Negrete-Fernandez said. “We couldn’t match their height or athleticism. We’re an inside-oriented team, but we couldn’t play that way today.
“We hit a couple of threes and made some free throws. We just didn’t get enough.”
The teams traded baskets before the first quarter ended. Then Sam Houston turned up its intensity.
The Hurricanes scored the first six points in the second quarter, with five from 5-foot-10 senior Jordyn Stewart (19 points, 15 rebounds, 4 steals) and a free throw from 6-2 freshman Ashawnte Brown (8 points, 10 rebounds). The pair combined with Jones (19 points, 10 rebounds) to help Sam Houston outrebound Lanier 45-14.
“That’s our strength, and we do try to play to our strengths,” said Hurricanes coach Marchae Keno, a 2005 Sam Houston graduate who was an assistant to Lamkin last year.
“Inside play is our strength, and it opens up other things.”
On the foundation of its inside game, Sam Houston outscored Lanier 23-6 in the second quarter and ked the rest of the way.
After the missed shot from Mojica, Ruby Garza split two free throws and cut Lanier’s deficit to 54-52 with 39.8 seconds left. Before another second ticked off, the Hurricanes hustled the ball upcourt and Stewart made two free throws. Sam Houston point guard Kori Dittiumus fed Jones for a layup that secured the win with 22.8 seconds on the clock.
“I just feel like my team has to fight for everything,” Jones said. “We have (injured players) who were not with us today. I’m going to get out there and fight for my team.”
Sam Houston’s boys and girls teams each wear warm-up shirts with this phrase on the back: Long Live Lamkin.
“It has definitely been a challenge,” Keno said, “but we’re trying to keep her name alive. We use it as motivation. She gave so much to the community. I just want to keep supporting her legacy.”
Lanier slid past Burbank behind 21 points from junior post Sabrina Cortinas, who battled foul trouble against the Hurricanes. Ruby Garza and Destiny Garza each scored 13 points.
“It’s a good mix of girls,” Negrete-Fernandez said after the Sam Houston game. “You just can’t give two quarters to a team and win. You have to play four quarters of basketball every game.”
Abigail Macias and Olivia Cardenas led Burbank with eight points apiece.