Marlin’s size and strong shooting night, combined with an off-night by Hitchcock, saw Hitchcock fall, 69-46, in a Region III-3A semifinal battle of Lady Bulldogs on Friday at Waco Midway High School.
“It was just one of those nights,” Hitchcock head coach Andrew Hubbell said. “Things we typically do well, we didn’t do too terribly well. Those leak outs that we usually convert, we weren’t converting.”
While Hubbell felt his team played to Marlin’s size well, the height advantage did lead to a vast disparity in opportunities at the free throw line. Marlin shot 18-for-32 at the charity stripe (including 13-for-24 in the first half alone), while Hitchcock went to the line just eight times, making four of its free throws.
“If we go in and they’re straight up, they’re not going to call a foul, but if my girl jumps to make a block on a girl that’s five inches taller than her, then that’s called a foul,” Hubbell said. “Things didn’t go our way, and it wasn’t just the calls.”
Hitchcock held a 3-2 lead early, but Marlin outscored Hitchcock 17-4 to end the first quarter and take control of the game.
Early in the second quarter, Hitchcock managed to cut Marlin’s lead to single digits at 20-12 on a 3-pointer from senior point guard Irish Winn (15 points, six rebounds) and a teardrop lay-in by senior guard Taivionna Daniels (team-high 17 points, four rebounds).
But, Marlin sophomore guard Kerrie Davis (13 points) responded with a banked-in-corner 3-pointer, and Marlin went 3-for-6 at the free throw line during a 6-0 run.
Later in the quarter, another 3-pointer from Davis and a made free throw by freshman forward Aniya Williams (10 points, 11 rebounds, two blocks) saw Marlin’s lead balloon to 32-15 before a drive to the basket by Winn made the score, 32-17, going into the halftime break.
Marlin started the second half on an 11-2 run, which was capped by a big-time contested 3-pointer sunk by junior guard and Alabama commit Mystique Womack (game-high 23 points, nine rebounds).
Daniels shot right back with a 3-pointer of her own, but every time Hitchcock showed life, Marlin seemed to have an answer. Marlin held a 57-34 lead at the end of the third quarter.
Senior post Majesty Otems scored seven points and was Hitchcock’s leading rebounder with 12 boards. Rounding out Hitchcock’s scorers were senior guard Taylor Kendrick (five points) and sophomore forward Jimile Johnson (two points).
Other leaders for Marlin were sophomore forward Danielle Noble (15 points, 12 rebounds) and senior guard Dynesha Bailey (eight points, four rebounds).
Hitchcock will lose eight seniors from this season’s roster, who were all freshmen when the Lady Bulldogs program began a turnaround from perennial district cellar dweller to one of the best teams in the state.
“They played their butts off every single night, every year,” an emotional Hubbell said. “This is a great group to have. … We didn’t reach our potential because our potential was a state title team. We were a state championship team, but obviously things didn’t go the way we needed them to tonight, and that’s OK.”