Lady Crusaders clinch state berth

T.K. Gorman point guard Michelle Obach defends against All Saints on Friday at Gorman's Haddad Gymnasium. (Herb Nygren Jr. | Tyler Morning Telegraph)

PLANO — T.K. Gorman’s leading scorer got hers, as did Houston Second Baptist’s top scorer.

The difference between the two teams on Saturday was Allie Buzbee.

The junior guard had 19 points and nine rebounds to lead the Lady Crusaders to a 74-51 victory in a TAPPS 4A regional playoff Saturday at Plano John Paul II High School.

Buzbee hit 7 of 9 shots, including 5 of 6 from long range, to score 13 more than her average and propel Gorman to the state tournament for the first time since 2009 after falling in the regional round the last two years.

“It feels pretty amazing,” Buzbee said. “It’s really good to see all our work finally pay off. I don’t really think there’s a way to describe how badly we wanted to go to state this year. I’m just glad we finally made it. 

“My team played really good today and without all the teamwork and all the hard practices there’s no way we could’ve made it this far. I’m just really happy to be a part of this team.”

Gorman (31-6) will play Friday at Mansfield Legacy High School against Houston Westbury Christian (60-56 winners over Fort Worth Christian). 

Michelle Obach led the Lady Crusaders with 20 points to go with four rebounds, four assists and three steals, but it was Buzbee who stole the show from the outset.

“I’ve always known she’s had it in her to be a scorer,” TKG coach Katie Robertson said of Buzbee. “She’s worked so hard to develop her shot this summer. I’m so excited for her because she peaked when we needed her to and it makes me excited about the future, too. 

“I’m very, very proud that she’s finally reaping what she’s sewn.”

With Gorman trailing for the only time thus far in the playoffs at 1-0, Buzbee drilled a trey 91 seconds into the game. She hit her second at the 5:19 mark of the first to put her team in the lead for good at 8-5. Buzbee’s bucket midway through the second quarter gave her 13 points and the Lady Crusaders a 31-13 lead.

“I guess it’s kind of a blessing in the game because we needed to come out with intensity and it really helped us getting points on the board,” Buzbee said. “It helps us create a better defense and that really sparks our offense for us.

“I guess I was just open. I got a lot of really good passes. I just saw the shot was open so I just went for it.”

Taylor Barnett led the Eagles (26-11) with game-high 23 points, one below her season average, to go with a game-high 14 rebounds before fouling out with 5:12 left in the game. Buzbee guarded Barnett for most of the game — with support from the rest of the team — and forced her into 35 percent shooting, 13 points lower than her average.

“She was difficult to guard; she was real fast but I think we contained her real well,” Buzbee said. “We knew she was their best player and we knew she would come out playing a really good game because it was her senior year so we just knew we had to stop her.”

Gorman finished the first quarter on a 17-2 run and ended the second period with a 17-4 burst to take a 41-17 lead into the break. The lead never dipped below 19 points in the second half as Robertson was able to empty her bench in the fourth quarter. 

Second Baptist turned the ball over nine times in the first quarter, including five travel violations.

“We just wanted to have good intensity and come out strong but still stay out of foul trouble,” Robertson said of the defense. “I told them before the game, I don’t care as much about stealing the ball as just putting good pressure and I think that’s what (caused the travels). We created turnovers and it wasn’t all about steals which usually ends up in foul trouble.”

The Lady Crusaders had six assists on eight field goals in the first quarter. Brooke Lee had four first-half assists on her way to a game-high six while Cori Jo Navarro added four assists to help Gorman shoot 46 percent for the game.

“I felt like we were doing a better job of our shot selection and penetrating and finding the open person and getting the pass there and seeing the floor,” Robertson said. “So I think all that together is what makes our shooting percentage go up.”

Susannah Williams added 12 points, four rebounds and a block for the Lady Crusaders. 

Rachel Stading had a double-double with 11 points and 12 rebounds for the Eagles, who shot 28 percent in the first half and 32 percent for the game. 

Stading hit a half-court shot at the final buzzer to make Second Baptist the second team to score more than 50 points against Gorman in 2012. The other, Trinity Christian-Cedar Hill, will play in the other TAPPS 4A semifinal on Friday after the Lady Tigers beat Houston Northland Christian 51-33. They’ll play Lubbock Trinity, a 57-48 winner over Tomball Concordia Lutheran.

Robertson said she and her team got a little teary-eyed after the game.

“I see that there’s tears in their eyes because they know how hard they’ve worked,” she said. “They deserve it and I’m excited about next weekend.”

T.K. Gorman 74, Houston Second Baptist 51

TAPPS 4A Regional

At John Paul II High School, Plano

Second Baptist        7   10   20   14    —    51

Gorman                22   19   18   15    —    74

SECOND BAPTIST — Shannon Garner, 0; Rachel Stading, 11; Haley Caron, 2; Taylor Barnett, 23; KK Jones, 0; Michelle Howard, 8; Kristen Milton, 7; Liz Petkus, 0; Laney Elders, 0; Kennedy Nabors, 0. FG: 18-57. FT: 11-17.

GORMAN — Brooke Lee, 4; Allie Buzbee, 19; Michelle Obach, 20; Maggie Mercer, 2; Cori Jo Navarro, 6; Mandie Vander Vorste, 3; Liz Fikes, 2; Laura Meads, 4; Susannah Williams, 12; Danielle Smith, 0; Courtney Fergerson, 0; Hannah Sattler, 2. FG: 28-61. FT: 11-18.

THREE POINT GOALS — SB (4-16): Stading, Barnett, Howard (2). TKG (7-17): Lee, Buzbee (5), Obach.

RECORDS — Second Baptist 26-11; Gorman 31-6.

NEXT UP — T.K. Gorman vs. Houston Westbury Christian, 6 p.m. Friday, at Mansfield Legacy High School, TAPPS 4A state semifinal.