Replacing multiple key players is never easy, not even for a perennial power like Clear Springs, and the inexperience showed Monday for the current Chargers as they fell, 60-59, in overtime against Katy Seven Lakes at home.
“They’re all good athletes, it’s just that you have a lot of kids that have never been in this situation,” Clear Springs head coach Pam Crawford said. “It’s fixable as the season goes on.”
Clear Springs held a 13-point lead with less than 4 minutes left in the fourth quarter and held a 9-point lead with less than a minute remaining, but a mental breakdown and a highly questionable official’s call saw that lead quickly evaporate.
A bucket inside by the Lady Spartans’ Sara Pareja (nine points, 12 rebounds) cut Clear Springs’ lead to 52-45 with 51.3 seconds left in the game, and a 3-pointer drained by Jada Lake (13 points, four rebounds) got Seven Lakes to within 52-48 with 34.9 seconds on the clock.
With 12.8 seconds to play, Brook Bigott (25 points, five rebounds) drove the lane for a basket to make the score 52-50. A loose ball that clearly was deflected out of bounds by Seven Lakes was not seen that way by the referees, and Bigott was fouled with 5.5 ticks on the clock. Bigott came through with two clutch free throws to send the game into overtime.
“It’s going to take awhile,” Crawford said. “We’ve got to understand that when you work hard to get a lead like that, you can’t have a mental lapse. But, it’s all fixable.”
With new life, Seven Lakes grabbed a four-point lead in overtime and never looked back. A 3-point play the old-fashioned way by Bigott gave Seven Lakes a 59-54 lead with 50.5 seconds remaining in the bonus frame, and she hit a free throw with 8.1 seconds left to ice the game with a 60-56 lead.
Seven Lakes started off the game fast, racing out to an 11-2 lead midway through the first quarter. The Lady Spartans held a 19-8 lead late in the opening frame before a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by the Chargers’ McKenna Worrell (nine points, six rebounds) saw Seven Lakes end the first quarter with a 19-11 lead.
The Chargers used their trademark high-pressure defense to claw their way back into the game in the second quarter. Starting at the 3:24 mark of the second quarter, Clear Springs embarked on a 13-0 run that saw a 24-17 deficit turn into a 30-24 lead. A basket by Pareja with 14.2 seconds left in the quarter saw Clear Springs take a 30-26 lead into the halftime intermission.
Clear Springs controlled the second half until the late collapse, taking a game-high 51-38 lead at the 3:48 mark of the fourth quarter.
Leading the way for Clear Springs in the tough loss were, not surprisingly, the duo that brings significant varsity experience into the new season — Dymond Gladney (25 points, six rebounds) and Taylor Singleton (13 points, nine rebounds). Vianey Galvan (seven points) and Blaise Blair (five points, five rebounds) rounded out the scoring for the Chargers.
Other Seven Lakes players with solid efforts were Cassie Hopkins (seven points, eight rebounds) and Taylor Howe (six points).
The Chargers try to shake off the loss and build more experience in their next series of games, which will come at the McDonald’s Texas Invitational tournament in Pasadena on Thursday through Saturday.