The Hays Lady Rebels needed a break to help erase a nine-point deficit with three minutes left in the fourth quarter of Tuesday’s game against the Vandegrift Vipers.
Vandegrift, which entered Tuesday night’s matchup with an undefeated district record, offered a helping hand by failing to score a point in the final three minutes after taking a 53-42 lead via a 3-pointer from Bee Gonzales.
But Hays, which rallied back to force overtime, couldn’t secure a lead in the extra session, allowing Vandegrift to escape with a dramatic 59-58 win Tuesday at Bales Gym.
Vandegrift missed five consecutive free throws in the final minute of regulation to give the Rebels three chances at a tie.
Hays still didn’t capitalize, leaving Gabby Bosquez with a chance to tie the game. Bosquez pulled up from 3-point range and converted a contested jump shot with eight seconds remaining in regulation to send the game to overtime. The score, improbably enough, was tied at 52-52 after four quarters.
“We’re the type of team that can do that,” said coach Danny Preuss. “We made them panic a little bit. It was great to get to overtime.”
When the overtime period started, it was Hays’ turn to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
A risky cross-court pass led to a turnover and free throws for the Vipers. Then Bosquez, who finished with a game-high 32 points, missed a free throw off the front of the rim. Vandegrift returned to the line, missed a free throw and two Hays players lost control of the uncontested rebound.
That extra possession – with the score tied in overtime – was the final blow. Vandegrift made a free throw and escaped with a 59-58 win and its undefeated district record still intact.
“It was four things in the span of a minute that spelled the end,” Preuss said. “It’s nothing the girls wanted to do, but it just didn’t go our way. In a game like this you need to execute the little things to win.”
Hays dropped to 16-12 overall and 3-4 in district, putting them four games behind district-leading Vandegrift. A win Tuesday night would have cut the Vipers’ district lead to two games.
“We needed that one,” Preuss said. “It kind of got away from us for a little bit.”
With five district games left in the season, Preuss is hoping for more of the Hays Lady Rebel team that erased a nine-point deficit in under three minutes instead of the version that coughed away a lead.
“I learned we have heart and that we can play with intensity,” Preuss said. “We just have to do that all the time.”
The Lady Rebels have a week off until its Jan. 24 district matchup against Lake Travis.