Free throws and turnovers were the two deciding factors in the state ranked Hendrickson Hawks 47-43 comeback victory over the Dripping Springs Lady Tigers Friday night in Tiger Gym.
Dripping Spring began the game firing on all cylinders. The defense created turnovers and the offense was clicking with five different players making shots.
However, near the end of the first quarter, Hendrickson caused turnovers, tying the game 10-10.
The second quarter was similar to the beginning of the first as the Lady Tigers continued to share the rock. Dripping Springs found the open player and played lock-down defense.
Dripping Springs outscored the Hawks 17-7 in the second frame to take a 27-17 lead into the half.
Recognizing a need to increase intensity, Hendrickson made a permanent switch to a full-court press for the entirety of the second half.
The combination of ball movement, poise and speed the Tigers used to combat the press in the first half was nowhere to be found in the third quarter.
The Tigers committed five turnovers in the third quarter. Dripping Springs scored only four points in the frame.
While the turnovers were a glaring issue in the third period, free throws were a trend that rose at the same time.
By the end of the third quarter, Hendrickson had reached the free-throw line 14 times. Dripping Springs, on the other hand, reached the line only three times.
Although the turnover and free-throw discrepancy was glaring, the Lady Tigers still had a four point advantage heading into the fourth quarter.
Both Hendrickson’s intensity and the Lady Tigers’ turnovers continued in the fourth quarter., With 1:30 left in the game the score was tied 38-38.
Dripping Springs took the lead after two clutch free throws from forward Danielle Northrup.
However on the ensuing trip down the court, Hendrickson’s Brooke Lopez drained a wide-open three-pointer to give the Hawks a late 41-40 lead.
Trailing by one point, Dripping Springs turned the ball over and put Hendricks on the line yet again.
Hendrickson was able to secure the comeback, winning 47-43.
When asked after the game about the discrepancy at the free-throw line, Joiner said with a smile that it was a physical game.
She said however significant the free throw discrepancy was, the game was in no way decided by the referees. She said she holds herself and her team accountable for 21 turnovers on the night.
“We didn’t handle the pressure well in the third quarter,” Joiner said. “They came after us, and we knew they were coming, but we got a little panicky, we lost our composure, our swag.”
This was the last pre-district game of the season for Dripping Springs and Joiner said although everyone wants to win, the way this game turned out was what her team needed.
“It’s a great experience before we go into district play,” Joiner said. “It’s a great experience to go okay, ‘I gotta get better at that, I gotta be mentally tougher than that, I gotta take care of the ball better,’ so I thought it was good for us last pre-district game to get some of that experience.”
Joiner also believes the wide spectrum of talent her team experienced in pre-district play will be advantageous to their district success.
“We had some big blowout wins, we had some close wins, and then we had some close losses,” Joiner said. “We’ve seen it all – good guard play, height inside and outside, shooters – and there wasn’t one game in those first 17 games that we didn’t compete for 32 minutes and were in the game until the buzzer went off. I’ll take that any day.”