The Orange Leader
Trailing by two and saddled with foul trouble entering the fourth quarter, the Bridge City Lady Cardinals dug down deep and turned back the West Columbia Lady Roughnecks 55-51 in the area round of the Class 3A Region III playoffs.
The Lady Cardinals (32-5) had four starters with four fouls heading into the final eight minutes but instead of getting in a panic, they simply outplayed the Lady Roughnecks (24-8) down the backstretch, outscoring them 15-9.
“I’m just so thrilled for our kids and they definitely earned it against a tough team tonight,” said BC coach Jennifer Willis. “We may have been down, but our kids believe they are never out and they came up huge in the fourth quarter.”
The Lady Cardinals will now face Sweeny in the regional quarterfinals.
Trailing 42-40 entering the fourth, Lady Cardinal Alexus Henry, who terrorized Columbia throughout the night with a game-high 26 points, knotted the game at 42-42 with 5:28 remaining with a slashing drive to the basket. Crissy Fiffie scored for the Roughnecks at the 5:20 mark and that was the last lead that WC would have.
A Kasey Frederick jumper just inside the free-throw line tied it back up with 3:51 left.
Then, BC post Kelsey Fults took over. Fults, who was saddled with foul trouble early in the first half, responded with eight big points in the final quarter and finished with 11 points and a team-high nine rebounds.
She put the Lady Cards up 46-44 with a powerful move inside and her free-throw with 3:01 left made it 47-44.
Another outstanding drive by Henry made it 49-45 with 2:10 on the clock.
WC trimmed it to 49-47 as post Dajinique Harris scored inside. Harris had a big night, scoring 13 points while yanking down 17 rebounds.
Fiffie tightened things up by converting 2-of-3 free-throws to pull WC within 50-49 with 0:42 left.
Fults scored inside again to make it 52-49 but WC guard Malnisha Burton hit a jumper with 0:16 to make it a one-point game again.
Fults bruised her way inside for two more points with 0:13 left and with a 54-51 lead, BC guard Bailee Bacon blocked a three-point attempt by Kayonna Davis to seal it with 1.8 remaining.
Henry was thrilled to get out of Channelview with the big win.
“We’re a hard team to beat because we always make big plays when it counts,” said Henry. “We hurt ourselves with the foul trouble but we played within ourselves and stayed poised at the most important moment. I just love my teammates to death. We are such a tight bunch and we don’t want to let each other down. I kinda took what they gave me tonight. They were playing low on defense and that allowed me to get some good drives to the basket.”
WC outrebounded BC 44-30 but BC’s amped up defense forced the Lady Roughnecks into nine of their 24 turnovers in the fourth period.
WC didn’t help itself from the free-throw line either as the Roughnecks made just 14-of-37 from the charity stripe. BC didn’t fare much better, making just 14-of-30. BC finished with 19 turnovers.
Burton finished with 11 points and seven boards for WC while guard Ondrea Hall had 10 points. Fiffie had seven points and five rebounds while Chantel Ward added five points and six boards.
Frederick had four points and six rebounds for BC. Harleigh Myers came off the bench and scored six big points while Bacon and point guard Caylin Choate added four rebounds apiece.
BC jumped out to a 17-11 lead at the end of the first period thanks to 11 points by Henry in the period. The Lady Roughnecks answered the bell though, going on a 17-8 run before Bacon hit a three-pointer near the end of the half to tie it 28-28.
The Lady Cardinals looked like they were going to take control in the third. After Hall three-pointer gave WC a 31-28 edge, the Lady Cards went on a 10-2 tear to lead 38-33. However, WC finished the period out with a 9-2 spurt to grab a 42-40 lead going to the fourth.
“I felt like our defense would have to carry us in the last quarter and it certainly did,” said Willis. “We were able to throw a bunch of different defenses at them and they all seemed to work well and they (WC) did not shoot the ball that well. They got a lot of second chances with the job they (WC) did on the boards but we tightened that up in that last quarter.”