HASKELL – It’s not often you see a team cut a net after a second-round playoff victory. Yet that’s exactly what the Ballinger girls’ basketball team did after beating the Wichita Falls City View 56-46 in a Region I-3A area playoff game Thursday night at Haskell High School.
That’s been a long time coming for the Lady Cats, who hadn’t won a second-round playoff game since beating Mason 52-39 in 2008.
Ballinger has been 0-8 in area playoff games since then, through Thursday night. And this is a Lady Cat program that has appeared in the playoffs every year since except 2013.
So, yeah, they partied.
“These seniors have worked so hard for this,” Ballinger coach Kinzee Willis said. “The last time Ballinger won an area championship he was in diapers. It’s something they really wanted to do.
Each girl cut a piece of the net before Willis finished it.
“In all of our women’s sports, we’ve just had a hard time making it past the second round,” Willis said. “So, normally you don’t see (teams cutting the net in the second round), but it’s special to them. I’m happy for them.”
Emma Perkins had 16 points, while Addison Martin followed with 12 and Jessa Battle had 11 for the Lady Cats (22-12). Matilda Galvan was also nine.
Kyra Taylor led the City View (22-11) with 19 points, and Ayawna Whiteside had 10.
Cats scratch it
City View, the third seed from District 7, was pulling off a stunning 48-39 victory over No. 14 Brock in the first round.
Yet the Lady Mustangs could not match Ballinger’s success in finding the field goal, and the Lady Cats had a 4-1 lead on 3-point goals.
It was a long 3 by Perkins at the buzzer that catapulted Ballinger to a 13-9 lead after the first quarter, after trailing 5-2 early in a defensive battle.
The Lady Cats led 29-22 at halftime and never trailed the rest of the night.
They opened up a nine-point lead (42-33) on Battle’s trey with 1:26 left in the third quarter. Ballinger held on for a 44-35 fourth quarter lead, and the Lady Cats hit 12 of 16 free throws in the final quarter to push back City View.
The Lady Mustangs came within six (49-43) on a Taylor trey with 1:08 left, but could only get three points the rest of the way as Ballinger converted 7 of 19 free throws.
Willis said City View was everything the scouting report said the Lady Mustangs would be, but he said playing in District 6-3A prepared his team, even as a fourth seed.
“They were tough,” Willis said. “They were physical and they are a good team. I think a big part of our ability to play tight games like this and keep the lead is because our district is so tough. Playing with the Wall, Jim Ned and Merkel prepared us for a moment like this.”
Ironically, the last time Ballinger made it past the second round, the Lady Cats faced Jim Ned in the third round, a game the Tuscola crew won 54-51. Jim Ned also finished Ballinger’s season in the second round in 2011.
And that’s what Ballinger draws in the third round this time with a spot in the February 24-25 regional tournament at the Wolfforth Frenship on the line.
Rematch with rivals
No. 2 Jim Ned (30-1) beat Breckenridge 42-30 on Thursday at Eula High School.
“It’s going to be fun,” Willis said of a rematch with her district rival, who beat Ballinger 65-33 on Dec. 16 in Tuscola and 48-19 on Jan. 20 in Ballinger.
Willis knows it will be tough to tear down a Jim Ned team that has lost only to Class 5A Abilene Cooper and has had a 25-game winning streak since.
“Jim Ned is as advertised,” Willis said. “We know. They’re well trained. They’re skilled. They’re everything everyone says they are, but we’re going to go out there and give them everything we’ve got.
“Luckily, we have two games against them that we can use, and we’ve really improved over the last half of the district. Regardless of who it is, we’re going to go out and compete and play our best and hopefully go to the regional tournament. We will see.”
The Ballinger girls know their story and are ready for more.
“Ballinger had some really, really good teams in the 2000s,” Willis said. “These girls watch those records. On the wall is written all that they have done, and they have seen it for a long time. So, I think seeing that and knowing that Ballinger can do that and be great, that we can do tough stuff, I think that’s what we’ve been doing all year and racing.
PLAYOFF ZONE REGION I-3A
Ballinger 56, WF City View 46
City view … 9 … 13 … 13 … 11 – 46
Ballinger … 13 … 16 … 15 … 12 – 54
WICHITA FALLS CITY VIEW (22-11) – Makayla Phillips 0 0-0 0, Kyra Taylor 5 8-11 19, Kenedee Pennington 1 2-5 4, Emarei Brandon 3 1-4 7, Ayawna Whiteside 1 8-8 10, Amani McKinney 2 0-0 4, Dakota Cave 0 0-0 0, Patricia Blackmon 0 0-0 0, Alyx Terrell 0 0-0 0, Chyree Pennington 0 2-2 2. Total 12 21-30 46.
BALLINGER (22-12) – Mikaela Gonzalez 2 0-1 4, Matilda Galvan 2 5-7 9, Addison Martin 1 9-15 12, Jessa Battle 5 0-0 11, Maci Belk 0-0 0, Skyla Hostetter 1 0-0 3, Brianna Herrera 0 0-0 0, Emma Perkins 5 4-6 16, Emma Harrison 0 0-0 0, Ashtyn Wilson 0 0-0 0, Alexia Villarreal 0 0-0 0. Total 16 18-29 56.
3 point goals – CV 1 (Taylor), Ballinger 5 (Martin, Battle, Hostetter, Perkins 2). Total fouls – CV 23, Ballinger 21. Fouls out – CV: none; BALLINGER: Wilson. Technical fouls – CV: McKinney; BALLINGER: Galvan.