For the first time in 13 seasons, the Dripping Springs Lady Tigers basketball team earned a spot in the Regional Quarterfinals.
Dripping Springs did so via a 56-47 win Friday over the San Antonio Brackenridge Eagles at the San Antonio Convocation Center.
“I knew coming into their backyard it was going to be a dogfight,” said Dripping Springs head coach David Norris. “Earlier in the year, those pre-season, pre-district games, would get you ready for a game like this. We would lose games like this earlier in the year, but they’ve matured and learned how to battle.”
Lady Tigers junior power forward Kline Stafford was a force to be reckoned with as she had a career night with 26 points, seven rebounds and three steals.
“In the first few minutes she (Stafford) got a little frustrated and I think she just said you know what I’m going to take it to them, and she did,” Norris said. “She had a huge game. That’s what we need, somebody to step up big for us and she did.”
Stafford was a key player in the comeback performance by the Lady Tigers. In the second half alone, Stafford put up 16 points, five rebounds and two steals. Her presence in the paint was felt on offense and defense as she crashed the boards, denied entry passes to the post, and ran the floor on fast break opportunities.
“I just had the mindset that we could win, and I believed that we could win,” Stafford said. “So I really pushed and tried to motivate my team to do the best, and if you motivate your team I feel like you can do your best too. Just trying to keep the positive energy going.”
Dripping Springs trailed for the majority of the first half as Brackenridge came out in a half court zone defense that gave the Lady Tigers offense fits.
In addition to the offensive struggles, Dripping Springs’ defense was lethargic as the Lady Eagles broke their full court press with ease and was able to hit uncontested shots. However, a late Tiger run gave Dripping Springs a 31-30 lead at halftime and momentum.
Norris credited his squad for making the adjustments they wanted after halftime, especially rotating on defense, something they struggled with in the first half.
Dripping Springs used suffocating defense in the third and fourth quarters to hold Brackenridge to 17 total points in the second half.
“He just told us to minimize our turnovers and calm down and let the game come to us,” Dripping Springs senior point guard Kennedy Donovan said about Norris’s halftime speech. “He really helped calm us down and get us in a good mindset.”
Norris said he knew the battle of the boards was going to be key factor in who won the game.
Dripping Springs out-rebounded Brackenridge 38-18 in the game. Norris
“I told them ‘we cannot give them offensive rebounds, we’ve got to battle in there’. I’m proud of them, all five, of getting in there and rebounding, Norris said.
Dripping Springs continued its playoff run Tuesday as they took on state-ranked Kerrville Tivy in Llano. The winner of that contest advances to the Region IV, 5A tournament at the Blossom Athletic Center in San Antonio.