Grady girls basketball coach Alicia Rush says the Lady Bronchos aren’t where she thought they’d be at this point in the season, but they’re getting closer.
The Lady Bronchos, looking for their 10th trip to state quarterfinal competition in Albuquerque in Rush’s 13 years as coach, improved to 10-7 on Friday with a come-from-behind 49-43 win over the Roswell High junior varsity in the opening game of the Milk Cow Classic at Greyhound Arena.
Senior Mandy Rush scored 24 points, going 8-for-8 from the free throw line in the final stanza, as Grady outscored the Lady Coyotes 16-4 to erase a six-point deficit.
Prior to that, the 5-foot-5 guard was 1-of-7 from the line.
Mandy Rush, a varsity member since eighth grade and a starter since her freshman year, is the only senior on the team. Except for Rush and junior guard Joni Lampley, most of the remaining playing time goes to younger players.
There’s no question who the Lady Bronchos look to when the game’s on the line.
“We try to spread the wealth around,” Alicia Rush said. “But when it comes to crunch time, you typically go to your senior.”
Grady, ranked second in the new Class B behind district rival Elida, finished second in the Class 1A state tournament in 2004. Alicia Rush, who is Mandy’s aunt, said the only years the Lady Bronchos haven’t made it to Albuquerque since she’s been the coach were 1999, 2002 and 2006.
“I thought we’d probably be a little farther ahead from where we are right now,” she said. “But this was a good win for us.
“The girls work hard every day, and there’s progress being made.”
Mandy said it hasn’t been tough playing for her aunt.
“On the court, she’s my coach,” she said. “After games, she becomes my aunt again.”
A couple of things are motivating her this season, she said — losing to Elida in the Class B state volleyball tournament, and the fact she’s personally never gotten past the quarterfinals.
“We have moments where we’re really good and moments where we play like an immature team,” Mandy Rush said. “But we’re getting progressively better every game.”