Lady Dawgs heading to State

Wayne Craig/Clear Memories
Teammates from the bench and players on the floor collide in celebration after the final buzzer sounded at Saturday night’s Regional Final game. Burnet’s girls had lots to celebrate as they knocked off Liberty Hill, a team that beat them twice in district play. The victory moved the Burnet girls overall record to 31-7, their best ever mark, and advanced them to the state finals for the first time in the history of the program.

 

 

 

 

 

By Wayne Craig

Bulletin Sports

The Burnet Lady Bulldog basketball team couldn’t have picked a better time to get sweet revenge over their HWY 29 rivals, Liberty Hill. It was a long time coming and Bulldog fans were loving every minute as their beloved Lady Dawgs knocked off the Panthers to become the first ever Burnet basketball team to win a Regional Championship.

“We’re state bound baby”, screamed a number of fans as the final seconds ticked down. The atmosphere was electric from the time the girls came onto the floor. Excitement grew when the lights were killed and strobes flashed for starting line-up players to be announced.

If you weren’t there try to image how loud things got when the Lady Dawgs built a 21-point lead during early fourth quarter action. The A&M Kingsville gymnasium could barely contain the energy!

But wait, before all this the Burnet girls had to deal with a tough Beeville squad on Friday, that was a nerve-racking contest until Coach Rick Gates’ Lady Dawgs blew things open in the fourth for a 44-29 win.

That outstanding victory was almost over-shadowed by the dominate win over rival Liberty Hill.

Regardless what happens at the state tournament, in San Antonio, these young ladies have provided us all with lifelong memories and a story they can share with their grandkids to come.

Funny thing, the Lady Dawgs were sitting at No.20 in the AAAA state rankings going into the Regional Tournament, with only 16 teams remaining. Now there are only four left in the state, and the Lady Dawgs are one of them, writing their own page in the history books at Burnet High School.

Coach Gates and his Lady Dawgs, who are now 31-7, played in three games last week. They had a Tuesday night contest against El Campo, a very good team that entered the contest with a 32-2 overall record. Burnet’s win over the Lady Ricebird moved them on to the Regional Tournament where they first defeated Beeville Jones, a 29-8 team, in the Regional Semi-final match, and then Liberty Hill, who finished 22-18 in the Regional Final.

 

Regional Quarterfinal versus El Campo

The Lady Ricebirds took a 15-13 lead over Burnet after one quarter of play. Trynadee Green scored eight points in the first quarter to help pace Burnet in the opening eight minutes of play. The two teams kept things close throughout the entire first half and when the second quarter ended it was Burnet on top by one, 30-29. The Lady Dawgs managed to put a little more separation between them and El Campo in the third with a 13-10 quarter in their favor making it 43-38 moving into the fourth. Emma Lewis kicked off the final period with back-to-back threes and the Lady Dawgs completely dominated the final quarter walking away with a big 67-43 win. Seven different players posted points in the fourth alone leading to the victory.

Burnet finished with three players in double-digits. Paris Brinkley led with 17, followed by Lewis, 16; and Greenwell, 15. Other offensive contributors were Gracyn Bennett, five; Hattie Blair, five; Haley McHam, four; Kathleen Fipps, four; and Kendall Connolly, one.

 

Regional Tournament, Semifinal versus Beeville Jones

Burnet took a 10-7 lead over Beeville in the first quarter of the Regional Semifinal match in Kingsville on Friday night. Lewis and Caitlynne Graves each hit a triple in the opener, while Brinkley added a double, and Greenwell went two of two at the line.

Points didn’t come easy for Burnet in the second period. Brinkley posted three and Lewis made one foul shot giving Burnet four total in the period. On the other end of the court Beeville drained back-to-back-to-back threes which eventually led to them holding a 19-14 advantage at the halftime break.

Burnet began to chip away at that in the third. Brinkley and Lewis each hit one two-point shot and one three in the period. Brinkley also added an and one free-throw giving Burnet 11 total in the third. They held Beeville to just seven and moving into the final period the Lady Dawgs still had work to do, trailing by one, 26-25. And work they did. Lady Bulldog shots came from all over the court in the fourth and Beeville couldn’t find a way to stop it. As a team Burnet produced their best quarter of the game with 19 points led by Greenwell who contributed seven. When the final buzzer sounded Burnet celebrated their 43-31 victory and their chance to face Liberty Hill for the third time this season.

Brinkley was Burnet’s leading scorer against Beeville with 16 points. She was followed by Lewis, 14; Greenwell, nine; Graves, three; and Connolly, two.

 

Regional Tournament, Finals versus Liberty Hill

So the stage was set. Two District 27-4A teams, separated by a mere 20 miles, four hours from home, playing for the third time, this time for a Regional title and ticket to state.

Brinkley got the already rocking Burnet fan-base to an even higher level when she opened the game with a nothing-but-net three pointer just seconds into the game. Connolly followed that with a two-point lay-up and Burnet was on top, 5-0 before the Panthers could blink. It took the girls in purple four minutes to score their first point. It came from the foul line with three-minutes left in the first, 5-1.

Liberty Hill tied things up before the buzzer sounded with a two-point shot and two more charity points bringing the first to rest at 5-5.

Brinkley broke that tie just seconds into the second with an and-one bucket, 8-5. Liberty Hill responded early but Burnet continued to pressure them on defense and drain their shots on offense. Brinkley made six-straight free-throws in the final minutes of the second which helped Burnet open up a 10-point gap, 24-14. Then her senior teammate, Emma Lewis, went to work outside hitting back-to-back three, including an off-balance buzzer beater, and when the half ended Burnet’s fans were almost out-of-control as the scoreboard read 31-16 in the Lady Dawgs favor.

Miss Lewis picked up right where she left off when the third started. She hit a quick three-pointer, followed by another and Burnet could taste it, 37-18. Brinkley and Greenwell also got in on the scoring action and when the third was done the Lady Dawgs were leading, 41-20.

In the early goings of the fourth team green held a 22-point lead, but four unanswered scores by the Panthers quickly cut that to just 13. They would get as close as a dozen, but some clutch shooting by Brinkley and Blair down-the-stretch held them from moving any closer.

In the final minute of play Brinkley went four of four from the line, and Blair hit two of two. When the fourth ended it was nothing short of pandemonium as those in green celebrated a long-awaited victory over the Hill, 52-36, and an even longer awaited trip to state.

Brinkley was Burnet’s leading scorer with 22 points. Ten of those points came from the floor, two triples and two doubles, and she was 12 of 13 at the line making 10-straight free-throws, including four in the fourth.

Lewis finished with 12-points, all by way of triples, all four in a row to end the first half and start the second.

Blair scored nine points in the game; one three-pointer, and a perfect performance at the line, six for six.

Bennett was on the scoring charts with three, followed by Greenwell, Connolly, and Fipps who each posted two. Connolly played a fantastic game at post, eventually fouling out in the third period to a standing ovation from Burnet fans. It was a fast-paced, emotional, and physical game, but Burnet’s girls did a fantastic job keeping calm on the court and taking care of business.

So for the first time in school history the Lady Dawgs punched their ticket to the state dance.

Burnet is scheduled to play Hardin-Jefferson in the State Semifinals on Friday at 1:30 p.m. The Lady Hawks will enter the contest with a 34-4 overall record, with all four losses coming at the hands of 6A schools. They are members of District 22-4A and finished as the first place team with a 12-0 mark. They’ve outscored their playoff opponents 336-183, with their most recent victory coming over Fairfield, 64-40.

The Lady Dawgs will be hard at work this week preparing for their biggest challenge yet and they would love to have your support at the Alamodome this Friday. Tip-off between the Lady Dawgs and the Lady Hawks is set for 1:30 p.m.

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