Saturday, February 24, 2018

ET Basketball: After win, Longview girls set for play-in game

By Hayden Henry
Feb. 6, 2018 at 11:11 p.m.

Longview didn't have time to look elsewhere down the home stretch of the regular season.

Instead the Lady Lobos entered "playoff mode" and took matters into their own hands.

With a postseason chance on the line, Longview finished strong on Tuesday, taking a 55-38 win over Mesquite to close the regular season at Lobo Coliseum, guaranteeing the Lady Lobos one more game that wasn't on the schedule at the beginning of the year.

"That's all we can ask," Longview head coach Robert Cochran said. "That was our fourth consecutive playoff game the way we were looking at it.

"If we didn't win those four, our season was over. I'll take this group against anyone. We had some close games and, like I said, we're still improving."

With Tuesday's win, paired with Rockwall-Heath's thrilling overtime win over Mesquite Horn, one more game stands between the Lady Lobos (23-11) and a return trip to the playoffs after snapping a four-year run in 2017.

After both finished the 11-6A slate at 7-7, Longview and Heath will meet Friday in a play-in game with the winner taking the fourth and final playoff spot. The time and location of the third meeting between the two is to be determined.

Heath won the first meeting, 74-66, before the Lady Lobos took a 50-49 this past week, setting up Tuesday's win-or-go-home finale.

"We got off to a slow start and that's a credit to Mesquite, they're talented and they play hard," Cochran said. "I was very pleased with how we played with poise and maturity.

"I think our seniors, on senior night, were able to calm us down and help us pull away."

After a slugging start both ways, Longview and Mesquite exchanged the lead six times and had three ties, the final coming at 20-all with 2:06 left in the second quarter.

"I told them in the second quarter that we're playing well but we weren't shooting well," Cochran said. "I said that we needed to slow down, starting making some shots and we were going to pull away."

Three Lady Lobos scored buckets on a 6-0 run to close the first half for a 26-20 lead. After Mesquite pulled to within five, 28-23, the Lady Lobos then went on a second 6-0 spurt and rode that to a 11-3 run to take a double-digit lead into the fourth quarter.

Five Lady Lobos finished with at least seven points in the win, led by an 11-point, 7-rebound night from senior Destiny McAfee, who finished 6-of-6 from the free-throw line in the second half.

Freshman Madison Pippins followed with nine points, two assists and two steals off the bench for the Lady Lobos, who held an 11-8 advantage on the boards in the second half.

Senior Kyrra Boone had eight points and four rebounds, matching an eight-point night from sophomore Jordan McClain, who added two rebounds, two assists and two steals for Longview.

Freshman Miah Colbert chipped in seven points and Heavunli Reese had five assists, four points and two steals in the win.

Longview finished with 11 steals overall, a part of a 26-turnover night for Mesquite, who concludes its season at 14-16 overall and 4-10 in 11-6A action.

A bucket from the Lady Skeeters' Kaiya Freelon, who led with 10 points, put Mesquite up 18-17 with 2:45 left in the first quarter.

Boone answered with a 3-pointer, giving the Lady Lobos a lead they would not relinquish.

After the 20-20 tie, McAfee connected, McClain went coast-to-coast and Pippins found Colbert down low for a six-point Longview lead at halftime.

McClain had a three-point play, Pippins hit a runner and then connected with senior Kindra Taylor, who completed another three-point play at the line to put Longview ahead, 37-26 with 2:06 left in the third quarter.

Longview went 8-of-8 from the free-throw line to start the fourth quarter to pull away for good.

Mesquite Horn and Rockwall tied for the 11-6A championship with 12-2 league records. Tyler Lee took the third seed at 11-3 while Heath and Longview have unfinished business before the postseason begins or, in the Lady Lobos' case, continues.

(Follow Hayden Henry on Twitter: @hayden_h)



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