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Lady Dawgs get playoff win; Lady Stangs lose nailbiter

Burnet Lady Dawgs earned a bi-district championship

The Burnet Lady Dawgs earned a bi-district championship after beating Smithville 75-25 on Feb. 14 at Manor High School. Photo by Jacob Atkinson/Luedecke Photography

The Burnet Lady Dawgs advanced in the University Interscholastic League’s 2021-22 girls’ basketball playoffs with a bi-district win, while the Marble Falls Lady Mustangs’ season came to an end.

The Lady Dawgs (16-12 overall, 8-0 District 19-4A champion) defeated District 20-4A fourth-place team Smithville 75-25 in a first-round game Monday, Feb. 14, at Manor High School. That same night, at Fischer Canyon Lake High School, Marble Falls (21-14, 7-7 District 25-5A fourth place) lost on a last-second 3-pointer by New Braunfels Canyon (27-6, 15-1 District 26-5A).

Burnet will face Madisonville (22-10, 7-3 District 18-4A second place) in the area round Friday, Feb. 18, at Rockdale High School, 500 Childress Drive. Tipoff will be announced. Admission is $6 for adults and $3 for students. No cash will be accepted at the gate. 

Against Smithville, the Lady Dawgs raced to a double-digit lead in the first quarter. The Lady Tigers didn’t score their first points until 10 seconds left in the opening period and trailed 23-2. Burnet head coach Rick Gates had sent in reserves midway through the period.

“Everybody got some good minutes and played well and worked hard while they were out there,” he said. “And just as important, when they were on the bench, they were cheering on their teammates.” 

Burnet kept adding to its lead, which ballooned to 47-12 at the half and 65-19 at the end of three periods. 

Gates said he was curious to see how his athletes would play because of their demeanor leading up to tipoff.

“It was interesting because they were really loose and having fun as we got off the bus and in the locker room for our pregame,” he said. “When we took the floor, it was time to be focused. We had a 20-minute shoot-around. They were extremely focused and working hard from that point on. It’s good to see them do that when it’s time to get to work.” 

Senior Sydne Massoletti led all scorers with 16 points and got her 1,000th career point during the contest. She is a three-year letterman for Burnet.

“We celebrated that,” Gates said. “At the end of the season, she’ll get a 1,000-point basketball to put in the trophy case.”

Other Lady Dawg scorers were sophomore Zaria Solis with 14, junior Grace Gates with 10, senior Gracie McCormick and junior Danielle Oakley with eight each, sophomore MaeSyn Gay with six, junior Christina Graves, freshman Sydney Lough, and senior Shelby Wagner with three each, and senior Karley Denton with two.

MARBLE FALLS VS. CANYON

Marble Falls junior guard Alyssa Berkman
Marble Falls junior guard Alyssa Berkman hit five 3-pointers in the Lady Mustangs’ 46-43 bi-district loss to New Braunfels Canyon on Feb. 14 at Fischer Canyon Lake High School. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro

Marble Falls and Canyon brought out the best in each other as both teams matched defensive stops and timely shooting throughout the fourth quarter in a contest that was decided on which team had the ball last.

Trailing 43-40 with 23.4 seconds left, the Lady Mustangs called a timeout. Junior guard Tea Rodriguez ran to catch the inbounds pass following the timeout, used a screen, and dribbled to the top of the key to hit a 3-pointer to tie the game. 

Canyon got the ball with nine seconds left, and junior forward Chayse Goetz hit the game-winning 3-pointer, her fourth of the contest, at the horn for a 46-43 win. She finished with 18 points.

Marble Falls head coach John Berkman told his players to reflect on all of the good this season.

“I told them they had a lot to be proud of,” he said. “All the people here, the students, they brought them here. They were impressed with them. There are people here who have no connection to them but were excited to see them. After last year, when we only won five games, to win 21 (this year) is a big deal.”

“Believe” was the Lady Mustangs’ team word of the year, and they did, even when they trailed 42-38 with 2:41 remaining in the contest. That was when Canyon called a timeout and went into a stall offense, only to see Marble Falls senior guard Gia Lemon steal the ball and get it to Rodriguez. Rodriguez, who finished with 11 points, was fouled and hit both free throws to cut the lead to 42-40 with 2:13 left. That set up the late-game heroics.

“Believe in yourself and your teammates,” Berkman said. “Even when the chips were against us all season, we fought and it paid off.”

The Lady Mustangs trailed throughout the first half. The Cougarettes ended the first quarter on a 7-2 run for a 13-6 advantage. 

But Rodriguez knocked down a 3-pointer to begin the second period, and junior guard Alyssa Berkman, who finished with 17 points and hit five 3-pointers, answered with one of her own to trim the deficit to 15-14 with 6:41 left in the half. 

Every time Canyon thought it had put the Lady Mustangs away, Marble Falls answered, none bigger than Berkman’s 3-pointer with three seconds left in the half to cut the lead to 28-22. 

Midway through the third quarter, the Lady Mustangs’ defense took over. Marble Falls was able to keep Canyon’s offense in check. Canyon scored 28 points in the first half but only got 18 in the second.

The Cougarettes edged out to a 35-27 lead in the third, but Berkman hit back-to-back 3-pointers to get Marble Falls within two. 

Junior guard Emma Koziel was fouled attempting a 3-pointer at the horn and sunk all three free throws to give the Lady Mustangs a 36-35 lead headed into the final period.

Marble Falls controlled the tempo and didn’t allow Canyon to outrace them.

“I’m proud of our defensive adjustments and the belief they can do it and belief they can play with anybody,” Berkman said. “I couldn’t be more proud of them for what they accomplished.”

jfierro@thepicayune.com