Needing a win to keep a postseason bid alive, the Clear Falls Knights could not overcome a seasoned Alvin team in the regular season finale, falling, 40-28, on the road Tuesday.
The highlight of an, at times, sloppy game on both ends was an action-packed third quarter. Clear Falls trailed, 16-6, at halftime in what was an ice-cold first two quarters for the Knights.
But, the Knights opened the second half re-energized and ready to chip away at their deficit with an effective full-court press defense.
“We were pressing well, we were trapping well, we were being a little bit more aggressive with the press — which afforded us a couple layups that we knocked down,” Clear Falls head coach Shannon Osborne said.
Clear Falls scored 12 unanswered points to take an 18-16 lead at the 4:53 mark of the third quarter. Addy Girouard (seven points) turned an Alvin turnover into a layup to get the run started.
A 3-pointer by Jessica Epting (eight points, six rebounds) was followed by a bucket inside by Lauryn Small (five points, seven rebounds). Girouard knocked down a triple to tie the game, 16-16, and a steal and lay-in by Anita Parrott gave the Knights the lead.
The Lady Jackets’ standout players Andreea Mancha (16 points) and Natalie Miller (nine points, 10 rebounds) scored back-to-back 2-pointers to return to lead to Alvin, but Epting found the bottom of the net from beyond the arc to put Clear Falls ahead, 21-20.
Capped by consecutive 3-pointers by Mancha, Alvin closed the third quarter on an 8-0 run to take a 28-21 lead into the final period.
“We knew we had to press to get back in the game, but it’s a catch 22 with that many shooters on the court,” Osborne said.
Alvin kept Clear Falls at arm’s length in the fourth quarter thanks to solid free throw shooting and a late dagger 3-pointer by Madison Becker (13 points, four rebounds). Becker’s triple was the Lady Jackets’ only field goal of the fourth quarter, as they shot 9-for-13 from the charity stripe in the period.
Osborne credited Alvin’s significant experience edge as a key X-factor in the game.
“They have seven seniors, and they all contribute, and we’re young and still kind of putting our dues in,” Osborne said.
The Knights also struggled with their outside shooting, going 3-for-5 on 3-pointers during their run in the third quarter, but 0-for-7 in the rest of the game.
Points were hard to come by for both teams to start this one, as the score sat at 6-4 through one quarter. Free throw shooting also aided Alvin in the second quarter, as the Lady Jackets shot 5-for-6 in that frame.
The win clinched a playoff berth for the Lady Jackets (8-6 in district, No. 4 seed). District 24-6’s other playoff teams will be Clear Springs (14-0), Clear Lake (12-2) and Clear Creek (8-6).
The Knights finish the regular season with a 6-8 district record and miss the playoffs for the first time in the program’s seven-year history. On the bright side, Clear Falls only graduates one senior from the roster and will have a strong core to build with next season.
“I have all the faith in the world in these young babies coming back — we just have to get stronger and have to spend more time on shooting,” Osborne said.