Dragons can’t overcome cold shooting against state-ranked Rattlers
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Coming off one of the biggest wins in Southwest girls basketball history, there may have been some concern about a letdown last Friday in its Class 5A area-round game.
Instead, what the Dragons (24-11) needed to be concerned about was an avalanche. Reagan (28-4) hit them with an offensive landslide early and often in a 78-48 victory at South San’s Durbon Center.
Meanwhile, the Dragons made just one of 19 field goals they attempted in the opening quarter.
“The thing about Reagan is that they can play so many different ways,” Southwest coach Bill Avey said. “They’re very efficient when they’re running the court, and they proved they could be very effective in the halfcourt as well.”
The Rattlers, No. 16 in the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches state poll, scored the game’s first 10 points. With 2:10 left in the first quarter, their lead had grown to an oppressive 19-1, from the Dragons’ perspective.
“We compared them to a lower seed that had beaten a higher seed in the NCAA Tournament,” Reagan coach Terry Barton said, referring to Southwest’s first-round win over O’Connor. “We felt like we needed to take control early and be very focused, and we did exactly that.”
Avey had spoken of the game as a matchup of two of the city’s top three players, Southwest senior Tiffani Rodriguez and Rattlers senior Wendy Knight.
Knight accumulated 12 points and seven rebounds in the first 16 minutes. She totaled 18 points and nine boards.
Six-foot-three post Sara Lewis (10 points, 11 rebounds) scored four of Reagan’s first 10 points. Anastasia Curtiss made two free throws and scored on a driving layup as the lead grew to 18.
“We knew Wendy Knight was the best player in the city and Sara Lewis was a dominant force in the paint,” Avey said. “We wanted to stop their drives, but that was easier said than done. All credit to Reagan.”
A three-pointer from Emily Sandoval (19 points) 30 seconds into the second quarter made it 27-5.
Southwest answered with a three-pointer from sophomore Alexandra Busby, who was scoreless in the first quarter. It counted as her only points in the game and was the last time the Dragons were within 20.
“When you shoot threes like we do,” Avey said. “It’s really hard when they’re not dropping. Life is good when they’re going in. But we got behind 19-1 really quickly.”
Reagan wing Mailee Jones, who hurt Southwest with her dribble penetration, contributed seven of her 13 points in the quarter as the Rattlers’ lead ballooned to 38-15 at halftime. Reagan’s largest lead was 72-36 midway through the fourth quarter.
“We played to pretty well tonight,” Barton said. “We shot the ball much better than we did in the first round.”
Brackenridge and Southwest were the only area girls teams to advance from the bi-district round last week. Eight teams advanced to the postseason.
Southwest, which took third in District 28-5A, had defeated O’Connor 66-56 Feb. 11 in the bi-district round. Guard Tiffani Rodriguez scored 25 points in that contest.
“In some ways, that was the best win in the history of the program,” Avey said. “Tiff was just brilliant in that game. She did everything we needed her to do, but a bunch of our kids played well.”
Rodriguez ended her Dragons career with team bests of 16 points and 12 rebounds. Junior Jenyl Henry added 13 points, seven rebounds and three steals. Senior Emilee Martinez grabbed six rebounds.
Reagan limited Rodriguez to one point in the first quarter and two in the opening half.
“We wanted to take away her penetration, as much as we could,” Barton said. “We played good help-side defense.”
Rodriguez and Martinez along with guard Angie Avila and forward Victoria Alvarez comprised Southwest’s senior class. The Dragons will return 10 players who’ve seen significant playing time.
“I already know what our slogan is for next year, ‘Take it to the next level,’ ” Avey said. “Reagan showed us what that next level is.”
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