Lady Lions’ Season Ends at Buzzer...Literally
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Written by Scott Batts/Photography by Monte Calame
The Teague Lady Lions do what other Teague sports teams have done the last few years…make history. The historical run ended at Midway High School at the buzzer to district rival Buffalo on Saturday at the Region III 3A tournament.
The Lady Lions began the week in Leon County at Centerville High School against the Franklin Lady Lions. The teams were tied at 29 at the half and the game saw several lead changes in the second half but Teague came away with a 58-55 win. Sophomore Destanee Roblow scored 27 points and pulled down a whopping 28 rebounds in the win.
Teague advanced to the regional tournament at Midway High School to face the Crockett Lady Bulldogs. The winner would take on Buffalo. The Lady Bison got two free throws from freshman Molly Dittmar with four seconds remaining and they defeated the Hitchcock Lady Bulldogs in the first semifinal.
The Lady Lions took control early but not without a fight from Crockett. Ashley Nickleberry hit three from long distance and Roblow added a pair of scores and led 17-15 after one period.
The Teague defense and ability to pound the boards took control and they never let off. Nickleberry scored twice and Caelyn Thompson added a put back off an offensive rebound and the Lady Lions held Crockett to four points and Teague took a 30-19 lead into the break. The Lady Lions had a huge 37-15 rebounding advantage including a 22-3 edge on the offensive glass.
It was more of the same in the second half as the Lady Lions hit the groove. They added five points to the lead and scored on the first four possessions of the final eight minutes. Cady Drake hit two three pointers and Ashley Nickleberry added one of her own and Teague scored 23 points in the fourth for the 65-41 semifinal win.
District rivals returned to Midway High School for the right to go to the state tournament in San Antonio. Both teams knew each other well and the game played out to the last second.
KaDaja Nickleberry scored the first basket of the game for the early lead. Jordan Jenkins and Dittman each added scores and Nickleberry finished with a basket for an 11-10 lead. Samantha Pate scored at the buzzer to end the first quarter and the Lady Bison had a 12-11 lead.
Dittmar scored six points in the first half of the second period and then left the game in foul trouble. Lauren Pate hit a three pointer and the Lady Bison built a small lead. Drake hit two huge three pointers in the waning moments and the Lady Lions trailed by one at the half 26-25.
The teams battled through the third period and both had some foul trouble. Thompson fought for a rebound and put back to give the Lady Lions the lead and Dittmar hit five of six three pointers for a 46-42 lead with under a minute to go. Ashley Nickleberry was fouled and went to the free throw line for a pair. She missed both and Roblow came away with the offensive rebound and score and she was fouled with 21 seconds remaining. She missed the free throw and KaDaja Nickleberry pulled down the offensive rebound and scored to tie the game at 46-46 with 14 seconds remaining.
The Lady Bison called timeout and it appeared the game was headed to an extra period. Buffalo was in the double bonus so the Lady Lion defense sagged but played aggressive defense. Jordan Jenkins saw an opening in the Lady Lion defense and she burst into the lane for the running one hander at the buzzer sounded. The shot was true and the Lady Bison punched their ticket to the state tournament.
The Teague coaching staff has always shown class and dignity throughout each sport and the Lady Lions displayed that same attitude in the loss. As the teams met at center court for final prayer, Buffalo Head Coach Jozette Jenkins went up to each Teague player, including coach Nickleberry, and offered words of encouragement for the fallen rivals. This was an act of total class by two fine schools.
The Teague Lady Lions end their season in the regional final for the first time in school history. The last few years have been a first for Teague athletics in football, baseball and boys basketball. Now we can add girls basketball with a journey to uncharted waters. Here is the sidebar to history…this Lady Lion team will graduate one senior. They return the entire starting lineup for next season.
Driving down the court, while keeping a close eye on the players, is Teague Lady Lion #1 Ashley Nickleberry, as #21 Kennedy Bennett and #23 Destanee Roblow follow her lead.
Going for two is Lady Lion #2 Zytaria Herod, as #21 Kennedy Bennett gets set for a rebound against Crockett this past weekend.