STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
Key baskets and tenacious defense in the final minutes propelled the Burnet High School girls basketball team to a 64-48 victory over Smithville on Feb. 15 in the area round of the playoffs at Round Rock High School.
The Lady Dawgs (28-7 overall, 8-2 District 27-4A) now face El Campo (32-2, 12-0 District 25-4A) at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 19, at Smithville High School, 285 Texas 95.
Burnet head coach Rick Gates commended his players and Smithville for a hard-fought contest.
“It wasn’t our best shooting performance, but we had to do it more tonight with defense,” Gates said. “We hit a few shots and finished better around the basket. Hats off to Smithville. It was tough for us to stop them.”
Burnet led 13-11 after the first quarter, but the Lady Tigers trimmed the deficit to 16-15 with five minutes 19 seconds remaining in the half. That’s when the Lady Dawgs let their defense and clutch shooting take over.
Senior guard Paris Brinkley converted one of her steals into a fast-break layup then added another when senior forward Trynadee Greenwell found Brinkley after a steal. Senior guard Emma Lewis rewarded Greenwell for her steal by passing to the forward for another fast-break basket. Then, Lewis made two free throws to give Burnet a 25-15 advantage that led to a 33-24 lead at the half.
Burnet kept its advantage after three quarters with a 42-35 advantage.
Smithville, however, wouldn’t go away and trimmed the deficit to 45-39 with 6:26 remaining.
Lewis then added a bucket thanks to an assist from Burnet senior Hattie Blair. Lewis got another steal and found Brinkley again for a bucket. Those were two of Brinkley’s seven points in a 40-second stretch that gave Burnet a 53-39 advantage to cruise to victory.
Brinkley finished with 28 points, and the Lady Dawgs were 20 of 28 from the foul line.
Gates said the Lady Dawgs understood their defense had to dictate their offense, and he was pleased with the way they attacked the basket.
“We understood we had to do things like that,” he said. “We talked about continuing to pressure them and making sure we win the loose balls and rebound. Luckily, we were able to keep them at arm’s distance.”