When opportunity knocked at Hays Lady Rebel senior Chloe Aguirre’s door Friday, she knew it was her time to answer.
Upon intercepting an errant Leander Lady Lion pass late in the fourth quarter of the basketball game, Aguirre came away with a critical breakaway layup that helped Hays seal a 41-34 district win.
But the win went beyond just keeping Hays’ slim playoff hopes alive for a few more days. It also was a landmark moment for the senior class, as they sought to pull together from a shocking loss to the Lehman Lady Lobos a week previous.
“It felt so good. I was so happy, it was awesome,” Aguirre said. “It will be a good memory, to be able to mesh together.”
Danny Preuss, Hays head girls basketball coach, said Friday’s win was “good all the way around,” with several players providing key contributions during the course of the game.
Those contributions helped take pressure off of senior guard Gabby Bosquez, who was the primary target of the Lady Lion defense.
“She knows she’s smart enough to know she has to get rid of the ball and give other people involved. Tonight, we had other people step up and do that,” Preuss said. “Their goal was simple, ‘Let’s stop Gabby.’ They did at times, but we did a good job of handling the pressure.
Early on, Bosquez attacked Leander’s defense with ease, scoring 18 points in the first half and helping Hays take a commanding 25-18 lead at halftime.
Bosquez, who finished with 24 points in the game, credited teammates for setting screens that helped her attack the rim.
Production, however, ground to a halt in the third quarter as the Lady Rebels scored only four points in the frame. But Hays’ defense followed suit, limiting Leander’s offense to only six points in the third quarter.
Aguirre said strong ball movement on the offensive end helped to limit Lady Lion possessions. Rebel efforts on the glass kept the Lady Lions from having second and third chances at tallying points.
Hays freshman post Lily Guevara snagged seven of the Lady Rebels’ 17 total rebounds in the final 16 minutes of play. The Rebels out-rebounded Leander 35-16 in the game.
“That was priority, rebounding, and also shutting down their shooters,” Preuss said. “Rebounding is always key. If you can out-rebound a team, chances are you can win.”
But Leander kept pushing forward and chipped away at the Rebel lead. A Lady Lion bucket with just over a minute to play in the game pulled the Lions to within three points at 35-32.
The Rebels clamped down in the final 60 seconds, holding Leander to only two points during that time.
Free throws from Bosquez also helped keep Hays at arm’s length the rest of the way.
Bosquez said Friday’s outcome exhibited progress during the course of the season.
“We are slowly starting to get together and be able to read each other and know our personnel,” Bosquez said. “That is a big factor, not just in this game, but from the beginning of the season.”