Robert E. Lee trailed by nine points with less than a minute to play and nearly pulled off a memorable comeback Tuesday against Texas High before ultimately succumbing to a 65-62 loss at Varsity Gym.
Trailing 65-56 with less than a minute left, REL coach Lloyd Mahaffey implemented a steal-or-foul style of defense and it began delivering the former with Dominique Thomas on the end of three consecutive transition layups.
Her third basket made it 65-62 with 2 seconds remaining. Feeling the game was finally salted away, Texas High relaxed on the inbound pass, enabling Tree Brooks to steal the ball and call a timeout with 0.2 remaining.
Not enough time to get off a game-tying 3 pointer.
But the officials then huddled and instructed the clock operator to add three more tenths of a second.
With 0.5 now remaining, Brooks came around a screen and was able to get off an open 3-point attempt on the wing as the buzzer sounded, which would've sent it to overtime, but it hit off the rim to end the game.
"The kids fought hard and I hate at the last minute to give it up," Mahaffey said. "I told Tree to call a timeout and soon as she got the ball and that is what she did.
"I thought (the shot) had a chance, but it was just one of those things. That one didn't fall, but hopefully the next one will."
Thomas led the Lady Raiders with 18 points, five rebounds and three steals while Brooks had 17 points and three steals. Berjae Lewis also scored in double figures with 11 points and five rebounds while Erin Brinkley finished with eight points and six boards.
The loss dropped Lee to 1-3 on the season while it was the season opener for Texas High (1-0).
The Lady Tigers utilized trapping and pressing to frustrate and turn over the Lady Raiders. On offense they went inside to post Kierra Smith, who led all players with 22 points and 10 rebounds. Angel Crump finished with 17 points, with Jalissa Trotter a point away from a double-double with nine points and 10 rebounds.
Smith's basket with 1:21 remaining turned out to the difference between the two teams.
"We didn't take care of our business on defense," Mahaffey said. "It shouldn't be that easy to get the ball (inside the paint). That is something we will work on and fix that because they definitely got the ball inside a lot more than we did."
Smith scored eight points for Texas High in the opening period, with the Tigers receiving two baskets from Crump to build a 24-15 advantage with 5:28 to go in the half.
The Lady Raiders, in a precursor to the fight they would show in the closing minute, answered with an 11-0 run. Brooks had a 3-pointer and a layup, Thomas, Brinkley and Alex Thorne scored on put backs to give Lee a 26-24 lead with 3:12 to play in the second.
Lewis got into the act in the closing seconds to enable REL to take a 32-29 lead.
The teams traded baskets in the third period until Texas High used three baseline jumpers, two of them 3-pointers, to pull away. The first was by Crump, who was left open on the wing. Crump got free again seconds later, but her foot was judged to have been on the line. With seconds remaining in the third, Grace Brooks let loose with her second trey of the game to give Texas High a 50-42 lead entering the fourth.
The Lady Raiders trailed by as many as 14 points in the fourth, 61-47, before outscoring Texas High 15-4 in the final four minutes, but came up three points short.
"We don't have any easy ball games; I expected this game to be like that," Mahaffey said. "What we are doing is preparing for district and we will have faced a lot of different circumstances before that. I am proud of the kids for fighting."
Texas High 65, Robert E. Lee 62
Texas High 19 10 21 15 — 65
Robert E. Lee 15 17 10 20 — 62
TEXAS HIGH — K'Tiana Davis, 6; Grace Brooks, 8; Jalissa Trotter, 9; Kennedy Jackson, 0; Angel Crump, 17; Lamonica Morgan, 3; Kierra Smith, 22; Krysten Dansby, 0; Nicki Burks, 0. FG: 26-58. FT: 8-16.
ROBERT E. LEE — Shreece Pryor, 2; Alex Thorne, 2; Dominique Thomas, 18; Tree Brooks, 17; DaJah Thompson, 4; Erin Brinkley, 8; Betty Allen, 0; Berjae Lewis, 11. FG: 26-20. FT: 7-15.
THREE POINT GOALS — TH (5-9): Brooks (2), Crump (2), Trotter. REL (3-9): Brooks (3).
RECORDS — Texas High 0-1; Robert E. Lee 1-3.
NEXT UP — Lufkin at Lee, 6 p.m. Friday.