As Allie Buzbee hit shot after shot on her way to more than tripling her normal scoring output Saturday, Larry Hargett watched from the stands, not surprised in the least.
Buzbee poured in 19 points to help T.K. Gorman advance to the TAPPS 4A state tournament for the first time since Hargett was the team’s coach, and the former Lady Crusaders coach knew she had it in her.
“I’m not surprised, but tremendously pleased for her and what she did for the team,” Hargett said. “She’s got the talent to do that.”
Hargett knows firsthand the work Buzbee puts in on her shot because, like many of her teammates, Buzbee takes shooting lessons from him.
“I think it’s helped me because he really helped me to develop my shot and it’s just more time that you’re spending in the gym,” Buzbee said. “It really helps you develop it throughout the year.”
Buzbee, along with Cori Jo Navarro, Brooke Lee, Susannah Williams and Mandie Vander Vorste, have taken time out of their Sundays to spend an hour shooting with Hargett, who sees his coaching as secondary to the work of the athletes.
“The hour lesson just builds confidence in themselves that they put the work in and they feel good about themselves,” said Hargett, who coached Gorman from 2008-2010. “I feel good about what I’m doing, but it’s the kids coming and putting in the work.
“It’s them; they’re the ones that are coming to the practice and putting in the work.”
While the workouts build confidence, Hargett also corrects any mechanical flaws he sees.
“He helps you on the little bitty stuff that you necessarily don’t think about or the stuff you don’t notice,” Navarro said. “He’s there to correct you and they really do make a difference.”
Gorman coach Katie Robertson talked with Buzbee after last season ended about improving her offensive game. Her efforts paid off in a big way on Saturday as she hit 7 of 9 shots — 5 of 6 from long range — in a 74-51 win over Houston Second Baptist.
“I think knowing that this is our year, we all want to work harder, so we all started taking shooting lessons, getting in the gym more often and I think it’s really helped us,” Buzbee said.
Shooting is important for the Lady Crusaders (31-6), who have averaged 18 3-point attempts in the playoffs, as they prepare for a semifinal showdown against Houston Westbury Christian (22-9) on Friday at 6 p.m. at Mansfield Legacy High School.
“He helped her feel more confident,” Robertson said. “In the game against Second Baptist, when she was open she doesn’t hesitate, she just shoots it and she shoots it well now.”
With TC-CH, TKG Not Alone
After two years without sending a team to the state tournament, TAPPS 2-4A has two schools still alive in the playoffs.
Trinity Christian-Cedar Hill, which went undefeated against league teams not named Gorman, is on the opposite side of the bracket for this weekend’s tournament.
The Lady Tigers (22-9) play Lubbock Trinity Christian (27-12) in the other semifinal Friday at 4:30 p.m.
“Our district has a reputation of being a weak district and I’m glad that they’ve made it as far as we have,” Gorman junior Michelle Obach said. “It gives our district a better reputation. I’m happy for them.”
Gorman beat TC-CH 65-43 at home and 59-53 on the road in the regular-season finale. The Lady Crusaders have mixed feelings about the possibility of a third matchup.
“Some of us are happy and some of us are kind of hoping that they lose because we don’t want to have to play them that third time,” Navarro said. “It’s really hard to beat a team three times, especially with the high pressure game like the state championship it’s going to be hard.
“But either way, we kind of hope they win because we know what they have, but at the same time we know that they’re a good team.”
Added junior post Susannah Williams on the potential final: “It’s somebody we know and we’re both going to want it just as badly. It’s going to be a really intense game and really cutthroat.”
Lady Crusaders Practice At UT Tyler
For the second straight week, Gorman will practice at UT Tyler’s Herrington Patriot Center.
Robertson had the Lady Crusaders practice at the larger arena last week to prepare them for playing at Plano John Paul II High School and will do the same before playing at Legacy High School this weekend, both gyms much larger that TKG’s Haddad Gymnasium.
“I think it helped a lot just to get us out of our comfort zone and to get them in a larger arena and just to instill their confidence knowing that it’s the same distance from the free throw line to the basket in this gym as in any other gym,” Robertson said.
The strategy worked Saturday as Gorman shot 46 percent, including 41 percent from beyond the arc. In their 52-17 area-round win at Haddad, the Lady Crusaders shot 32 percent, 16 percent from long range.
Gorman has four players who have hit at least 24 3-pointers, led by Obach (55 treys at 46 percent shooting) and Lee (37 at 38 percent).