The Aubrey Lady Chaparrals pulled off an improbable, come-from-behind win Tuesday in their bi-district game against the Crandall Lady Pirates. The Lady Chaps will face Wilmer-Hutchins Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Plano West High School.
A dismal first quarter offensively left the Lady Chaparrals behind 12-4 as the period expired. But the team rallied as the defense kept them in the game, eventually helping Aubrey (23-9) claim a 37-33 victory at Wylie High School.
“I just told them that we were playing great defense and getting some great opportunities,” said Aubrey coach Ron Gathright. “I told them that if we kept playing great defense, the shots would start falling and we would be all right. That’s kind of what happened.”
It’s exactly what happened. The defense continued to squeeze the Lady Pirates, and eventually the Lady Chaparrals were able to hit enough shots to win.
“We are awfully young,” Gathright said. “I knew there would be some jitters. It’s a big game and nobody on our team has experienced anything like it. But I also knew that we are a very strong defensive team. I knew that if we just kept the pressure on with our defense, our offense would come around.”
The Lady Chaparrals could not get anything to fall in the first half of the second period, as their shooting woes and jitters carried over from the first period.
However, the Aubrey defense put the clamps on Crandall and held them scoreless for the first four minutes of the second period as well.
Gabi Grisso, who had come up short numerous times on her three point attempts in the game, finally got one to fall to give Aubrey some momentum.
Grisso hit another 3-pointer on Aubrey’s next possession, and when Kaia Saylor hit a bucket from the paint it was a two-point game.
“I told them to keep taking the shots. We had good looks all game long. I knew they would start falling for us sooner or later,” Gathright said.
When Grisso hit another three just before halftime, the Lady Chaparrals owned a 15-14 lead at the break, and put a smile on Gathright’s face.
“That was huge, especially after the poor first quarter,” he said. “We had grabbed the momentum, and now we just had to keep it. I told the team at halftime to just keep up the intensity and we would keep the momentum.”
The two teams traded baskets and the lead throughout the third period, and went into the final frame with the score knotted at 25.
Heading into the final frame, Gathright felt good about his team.
“One thing about them is that they are fighters. We got past the early jitters, and now we just had to keep fighting. I knew that was not going to be a problem,” he said.
Saylor gave Aubrey the lead with a strong move to the basket, but the Lady Pirates retook the lead with a free throw and a basket from the paint.
Grisso got the lead back for the Lady Chaparrals with a jump shot from the top of the key, and followed with another hoop on their next possession to make the score 31-28.
A pair of free throws by Crandall made the score 31-30, and on the Lady Pirates’ next possession the Chaparrals defense showed up huge again.
Grisso blocked a shot, and Saylor grabbed the loose ball. The freshman went coast to coast with the ball, and finished with a layup to extend the lead to 33-30.
Again, the Lady Pirates came back and would test the mettle of the young Aubrey team.
A free throw and a basket tied the score at 33 with just under a minute to play in the game.
The Lady Chaparrals responded by scoring the final four points of the game.
Saylor grabbed on offensive rebound and put the ball in the basket to give Aubrey the lead for good.
Grisso hit a free throw to give Aubrey a three-point lead, but there was still 19 seconds left for the Lady Pirates to tie the score.
The Aubrey defense would have none of it, as they wrestled the ball away and Miranda Nowak was fouled.
Nowak hit the front end of the one-and-one to put the game away and send the Lady Chaparrals to the next round of the playoffs.
“We are a young team, and this is a great experience for them,” Gathright said. “We never panicked. I wanted this to be a positive experience for our team, regardless of the outcome. The win just made it better.”