Avenging an earlier road loss, the Lovelady Lady Lions defended their home court with a 68-61 district win over the Grapeland Sandiettes on Friday night.
Lovelady trailed 7-2 early, but went on a 16-4 run that included four buckets by Emily McClure, two by Schuylar Schultz and two by Hannah Burleson. The spurt put the Lady Lions in front 18-11 at the end of the first.
Lovelady extended its lead to 26-11 early in the second, but the Sandiettes countered with a run that trimmed the gap to two, 30-28. Lovelady outscored Grapeland by 6 in the final three minutes of the second quarter to carry a 40-32 lead into the break.
An energized Grapeland squad came out after halftime and cut the lead to 40-39 on Dijonia Turner's back-to-back buckets and a 3-pointer by Hannah Chipman. Grapeland finally tied the game at 47-all with 1:10 left in the third, but two unanswered buckets gave Lovelady a 51-47 cushion heading into the final frame.
Two more quick buckets early in the fourth gave Lovelady an eight-point lead, but the Sandiettes refused to go away quietly and whittled the margin down to 55-53 with 4:00 left.
The Lady Lions scored two quick baskets and maintained a lead of four to eight points the rest of the way.
"This team has a lot of heart, a lot of depth and a lot of character, and we showed it tonight," said Lady Lions Head Coach David Beaver, whose team fell to Grapeland 63-53 on the road Jan. 12.
Emily McClure paced Lovelady with 18 points and Hannah Burleson followed with 13 (1 trey). Heather Elliott rounded out double figures with 10 (1 trey).
"Emily and Hannah were due for a game. The whole team has been in a slump the last 2 to 2 ½ weeks. They're our go-to scorers and it was nice to see them break out tonight," said Coach Beaver.
Lady Lions scoring 8 apiece were Sarah Thompson and Elexus Pickrom, who had four baskets in the fourth quarter.
"I told the girls after the game what a good job the whole team did. It was a total team victory. Everybody chipped in, and we needed everybody," said Beaver. "We were playing a little shorthanded tonight due to illness of two players and another playing through an injury. For all of them to contribute like they did, I'm really proud of their effort. They showed a lot of grit and a lot of determination."
Grapeland's Chipman led all scorers with 20 points (2 treys), while Turner and Bre Bolt contributed 12 apiece.