by MOSES LEOS III
An explosive 11-0 run to start the second half helped propel the Hays Lady Rebels to a rousing 52-26 victory over Alamo Heights Tuesday evening, securing the Lady Rebels a share of the 27-4A district championship on Senior Night.
The game would begin on the highest of notes, as the Lady Rebels honored the four seniors that played in their final regular season home game of their high school careers.
“We were going through every emotion before, during and after the game. By the end of the game, we were in tears. Even so, it was an exciting moment,” said senior post player Kamryn Kent, reflecting on the contest where she finished with a game high 10 points.
Initially, both squads struggled from the onset, as Hays and Alamo Heights committed a total of twelve turnovers in the first eight minutes of play. Additionally, a cold start on the offensive end for the Rebels led to an 8-8 tie after a quarter of play.
Even with the struggles on offense to start the game, Hays’ defense began the contest with tremendous pressure, continuing that trend all evening long. The length and speed of the Lady Rebel defenders proved to be an issue which Heights could not overcome. Led by junior forward Jordyne Duggar and her presence underneath, Hays shut down the paint, forcing Alamo Heights to shoot the ball from the perimeter with little success.
“We worked hard on defending Height’s ‘in and out’ style of play in the post. Our size and length advantage gave us a chance to see where their passes were going, giving us a better chance at defending them,” said Duggar.
However, Hays’ offensive woes would continue, as the team could not hit a breakout bucket to rally the cause. Despite allowing a buzzer beating shot to go in at the end of the first half by Height’s Mattie Olson, who finished with a team high five points, Hays would take a 21-15 halftime lead.
That bucket by Olson would be the last points Clemens would score for 5 ½ minutes. Hays would begin the second half on a roll, concocting a stellar 11-0 run, assisted by senior Rachael Calabrese, who scored five of her ten points on the night during that run. By the time Heights would drain a three point bucket with 2:30 to go in the third, Hays had jumped out to a huge 33-18 lead.
From that point onward, Hays’ offense found their rhythm, draining buckets left and right. With the assistance of the defense, which helped force 21 Alamo Heights turnovers, the Lady Rebels had the game well in hand, crusing to the big win.
Hays head coach Danny Preuss was ultimately pleased with his team’s efforts, none more so than from his four seniors.
“Our seniors have all done a great job, they all play really well. Tonight, Kamry Kent and Rachel Calabrese kept hitting the big shots that kept our offense going, Lindsey McCurdy and Jennifer Colonetta played aggressively all night. These are great kids, they are great competitors,” said Preuss, who will oversee the Rebels to a third straight playoff appearance under his tenure.
With the win, Hays improves to 25-8 overall, finishing with an 11-3 record in district, which ties them with Schertz Clemens and Kerrville Tivy. As a result, Hays earns a share of the 2012-2013 27-4A district championship. However, due to Hays’ two losses to Tivy and split of the season series with Clemens, Hays will enter the postseason as the third seed in the 4A playoffs, which would place them against the runner up in District 28-4A in the bi-district round.
Despite the acquisition of the third seed, Hays’ optimism towards the playoffs was readily apparent after the game.
“We’re ready for the playoffs. Last year, we played a ranked (San Antonio Brennan) team, and took them to overtime. We’re excited at what we can do this year,” said senior Guard Rachel Calabreze.
Calabrese would place the most stock into how much Senior Night meant to the four outgoing Lady Rebels, “The moment didn’t hit me until the last few minutes of the game. By that time, I had tears in my eyes, but also a huge smile on my face. It was all bittersweet; it was our final home game, but we still have the playoffs to look forward to.