A double-double from senior forward Danielle Northrup, along with a strong bench performance, allowed the Dripping Springs Tigers to claim a 41-31 comeback victory over the Crockett Cougars in Tuesday’s bi-district playoff at the Toney Burger Activity Center.
With the win, Dripping Springs advances to the area round where they’ll take on Port Lavaca Calhoun Friday at Flatonia High School at 7:30 p.m.
Both Crockett and Dripping Springs came into the playoff game riding five and six-game win streaks, respectively.
Crockett, however, leapt out to an early 6-0 lead after a three-pointer and three free throws. Dripping Springs missed their first seven shots from the field.
On offense, the Tigers continually broke Crockett’s full-court press and only suffered two turnovers. But the Tigers found themselves shooting 28 percent from the field and trailing at the end of the first period.
“I don’t think I’ve seen us miss that badly in forever, but it was probably mostly nerves.” said Northrup. “Because most of us, besides the ones who played softball or volleyball who made it to playoffs, know what it feels like so the majority of us don’t.”
Despite the first quarter struggles, Dripping Springs’ bench began to quietly contribute with a steal and an assist from senior guard Peyton Hall.
After going 0 for 7 to start the game, Dripping Springs gathered themselves on offense, scoring on its first two buckets of the second quarter to take the team’s first lead.
While there was a certain calm amongst the Lady Tiger offense, their defense was the antithesis. Dripping Springs head coach Laura Joiner made a defensive switch from man-to-man to the 1-3-1 zone that provided the Tigers with a much-needed edge.
“They wanted to shorten the game, they controlled our tempo,” said Joiner. “We had to get the game going – the slow-tempo was playing into their hands.”
Although Tigers shots began to fall and the team increased its defensive intensity, Crockett continued to put points on the board, eventually tying the game back up at 18-18 going into halftime.
In the second half, Dripping Springs won the battle of attrition in large part thanks to their bench.
Senior guard Nicole Nading, freshman forward Sarah Nading and junior guard Madi North all made crucial plays on both sides of the ball that contributed to the win.
“I thought our bench was just huge for us tonight, absolutely the difference in the ball game,” said Joiner. “That’s what I absolutely love about this team – they find a way.”
Despite putting up 12 points and 15 rebounds, Northrup’s most important play came when she took a charge with just under two minutes to play.
The Tigers had just allowed five straight points and were losing momentum quickly when Northrup stepped up to make the play of the game.
“I saw her coming,” said Northrup. “And I’m dead tired, my legs are dead. I gotta get faster and get in front of her and all I was thinking as I’m trying to get in front of her are, ‘set your feet, set your feet,’ and then I just fell.”
The Tigers seized momentum and subsequently the win after senior Kaylen Morrison scored seven of her 10 points at the free-throw line to ice the contest.
“It wasn’t our best game, but boy it’s good to know that we can have people come off the bench to provide a spark, or do anything they can to help us win,” said Joiner. “That’s what teams all about.”