Logan’s fifth-seed Lady Longhorns fell 54-46 to the first-seed Tatum Lady Coyotes Thursday night in the semifinals of the 1A state basketball tournament at Albuquerque.
In the final period the Lady Longhorns had no choice but to foul as they tried to close what was a five-point deficit at the beginning of the period.
“We were trying to attack the basket, draw the foul and score with the clock stopped, and have a chance to set up our press for defense,” said Clair Rachor, Lady Longhorn’s head coach.
The Lady Coyotes, sensing their opponents’ desperation, started to spread the ball around on offense and succeeded in pitting the clock against the Lady Longhorns.
The Lady Coyotes were confident in their ability to shoot the foul shots, making over 85 percent from the line, while the Lady Longhorns sunk just over 50 percent of their free throws. Rachor said,“That is what did us in, we just didn’t shoot well from the line.” Tatum did a great job scoring from the free throw line, he said, and most of that was by Lady Coyotes’ junior Abby Medlin who led their offense with 22 points (5, 12-13).
The Lady Longhorns caught a break in the final three minutes of the game when Medlin fouled out with an offensive charge.
“I felt we had a good chance once Medlin fouled out to fight back for the lead,” Rachor said, “but we couldn’t capitalize. Just when it seemed that we had a break go our way, Tatum’s defense would step up or we’d hurt ourselves somehow.”
The Lady Longhorns were short-handed with junior Emily Collins fouling out midway in the final period and being replaced by eighth-grader Kaylee Foote. Foote played hard and contributed on offense and defense but the damage had been done.
Rachor said he can’t say enough about how the girls played and stepped up during the game. He said both teams played an amazing game and not wanting to take anything away from Tatum defense that forced the Lady Longhorns into committing some mental errors.
Loose-ball turnovers and jump balls took the ball away from the Lady Longhorns, hampering their fight to keep the game close.
Earlier in the final period, two sets of free throws by Lady Longhorn sophomores Brooke Rachor and Kippi Webb dropped the Lady Coyotes double-digit lead into single-digit territory.
This was a complete turnaround from the end of the third period, when the Lady Longhorns’ main threat was their own fouling.
Fouls also presented a problem for the Lady Longhorns in their 63-58 win against Magdalena Tuesday night in the quarterfinals. Just as in Tuesday night’s game, the Lady Longhorns on Thursday had their bench on standby at the start of the final period.
Three of their starters were carrying four fouls apiece, which limited the physical play of the Lady Longhorns on defense in the final period.
The Lady Longhorns fought back at the end of the second period and at the start of the third period to narrow the gap to within six points after trailing by as much as 11 points.
The Lady Coyotes would not relinquish the lead they had gained with a 25-6 scoring run after overcoming an 8-0 Lady Longhorn lead at the start of the game.