Hitchcock had the ball, had the momentum and a chance to put Huntington on its heels.
But like so many water lines in southeast Texas this week, the Lady Bulldogs’ golden opportunity burst.
When Sanaa Scott fouled out with 6:31 to play, Hitchcock was within four points, but it managed just one bucket the remainder of the way and lost 63-47 in a Region III-3A area round playoff game at Grand Oaks High School on Saturday.
“Those fouls hurt us and not having (Scott) in there hurt,” said Bulldogs assistant coach Lloyd Jones. “When you get in foul trouble with your studs, it’s tough to hold them off. They got second-chance points, stuff she would take away and that hurt us down the stretch.”
With Scott on the bench, Huntington controlled play with a 17-5 run. Forward Cassidy Cook took full advantage of a wide-open lane for three consecutive baskets and on the defensive end, the Red Devil senior grabbed six of her game-high 16 rebounds as Hitchcock missed shot-after-shot.
A team which rode long-range shooting to a District 24-3A title, the Bulldogs were a wind-chill cold 1 of 20 from the 3-point line.
Huntington, meanwhile, drilled 9 of 23 3s, including seven the first half, as it took a 31-24 lead into halftime.
“We couldn’t get a shot to fall,” Jones said. “We struggled behind the arc and we kind go off our 3-point shooting, something we count on to get us going. That’s tough for us. We kind of live and die with it. I guess tonight we died.”
Chloe Countee led Hitchcock, which ended its stellar season at 17-2, with 16 points, but the junior missed all 12 of her 3-point attempts. Scott added 15 points and eight rebounds while Trakemmia Elam added seven points.
Down 31-18 late in the first half, the Countee and Scott combined for six straight points in the final 1:20 of the second quarter, then they each hit a bucket in the opening minute of the third period as Hitchcock cut its deficit to three at 31-28.
Countee later dropped in a basket from the lane with 3:40 left in the third to make it 36-34 before the Red Devils outscored Hitchcock 27-13 to close out the game.
Kaitlin Jinkins led Huntington (18-6) with 21 points, including five first-half 3s, while Addy Stringer and Cook added 12 apiece.
Becky Yates, Huntington’s head coach, found putting away the Bulldogs a challenge.
“We knew it would be hard,” Yates said. “We knew we had to take care of (Countee) and we knew (Scott) would give us trouble down low, but we felt we matched up well to draw into our strengths. It wasn’t easy at all. That’s a great team.
“But we have seven seniors and we didn’t want them to be done today.”