GONZALES — The Gonzales Lady Apaches didn’t allow a basket for the final 6 minutes and 12 seconds of the game in their 38-30 victory over #19 Cuero last Friday.
“I definitely think defense was key here,” Gonzales’ Jiseala “Chella” Longoria said. “We weren’t putting up as much points as we wanted to. We go back on defense and play as hard as we could, we know coming into this game that defense was a big part of the game. we knew what we had to do and we stuck through it the whole game, finished out strong.”
Up for most of the game, the Lady Apaches found themselves trailing 30-27 after Cuero’s sophomore guard Ashley Price made a basket with 6:12 left in the fourth quarter. Gonzales earned the lead back after Madison Pirkle found Hailey Riojas open for a three. Riojas’ made basket gave the Lady Apaches a 32-30 lead.
“At halftime we talked,” Gonzales head coach Lance Butler explained. “We knew that our only chance was, I challenged them, eight turnovers or less and make our free throws. If we did that, we’d win our ball game. I had no idea that the last six minutes we held them without a field goal but we always preach that sometimes the ball may not go in, but we can always earn it back by playing defense on the other side.”
Riojas ended the night with a team-leading 14 points. Devon Williams added nine points while Sam Barnick had eight, Longoria had five and Hayley Sample had two points.
“In our case, if anybody stands out it’s because everybody else is doing their job,” Butler said. “One person may get the shots, but that’s because the other four people are doing what I’ve asked of them to do.”
The Lady Apaches did not attempt a free throw in the first half, but converted most of their attempts in the second half, going a combined 12-of-19 from the free-throw line. The team went 7-of-12 in the fourth quarter.
“I think free throws were a main part of the game,” Barnick said. “Once we got to that fourth quarter, we were shooting them no matter what. Shooting our free throws and putting them in was a major factor to our win.”
After coming away with the win, the Texas Association of Basketball Coaches took note, dropping Cuero out of the state rankings and moving Gonzales to #22 in Class 4A. The Lady Apaches traveled to Geronimo to take on Navarro who were previously unbeaten in district. Gonzales won the game 51-43 to take first place in District 30-4A.
The Lady Apaches host Poteet on Friday with a 6:15 p.m. tipoff before traveling to Pleasanton on Tuesday, Feb. 14