MANSFIELD – Everyone knew it was going to be tough to finish in the top-four in 15-4A in girls basketball this year.
That chore got a lot tougher for Waxahachie after Friday night’s 66-55 loss against Mansfield Legacy.
Both teams entered with a (1-3) record in district play and neither could afford a fourth loss this early in the schedule. Last season, Waxahachie got into the playoffs as the fourth-seed with seven losses, but won three of its first five games.
Now the Lady Indians are sitting two games back of the final playoff spot with nine games to go. The team has also already lost to four teams ahead of it, and still has to play state-ranked Arlington Seguin, which is undefeated in district.
“We’ve just got to continue to work and try and get better,” Priebe said. “That’s all we can do is continue to work hard and try to not make the same mistakes that we’ve made so far.”
Waxahachie likely has to win six of its final nine games and must beat Lancaster and probably Legacy in the second round to get in.
The team won’t be able to beat either of those teams next time they play if it plays defensively like it did Friday night. It seemed like every time down the court, Legacy had at least one player open and the open player hit the shot almost every time.
“Our defense wasn’t even close to where we are capable of playing it,” Waxahachie coach Lesli Priebe said. “It was just poor execution. I feel like I say the same thing after every game. It’s just really frustrating and very disappointing.”
Of Legacy’s 66 points, 60 came from three players. Danielle Walters led the team with 24 points, Bethany Ross added 19 and Jonelle Jackson added 17. Ross delivered the blow that just about surmised the season for Waxahachie. With time winding down in the third quarter, she dribbled frantically up the court and lofted a shot from just less than half court and drilled it at the buzzer.
“That was a backbreaker,” Priebe said.
The 42-foot shot gave Legacy a 14-point lead going into the final frame and Waxahachie couldn’t recover.
The Lady Indians trailed by 10 at halftime, 31-21, but Paris Townsend scored the first six points of the second half to make it a four-point game. Waxahachie wouldn’t get any closer.
Dawn King hit a couple of big shots in the second half, but never got the team closer than eight after Ross’ buzzer-beater. King led all scorers with 28 points, but it wasn’t enough this night.
Waxahachie once again had a tough night at the free throw line, where it missed more than two-thirds of its shots from the charity stripe. The team has struggled there all season and it has cost the team at least two district wins.
The Lady Indians (7-10, 1-4 in 15-4A) have now lost five of their last six games. The team had a similarly bad start to district play in the 2010-11 season. The Lady Indians started (2-4) in district that year and missed the playoffs. That was also the last time the team had five losses in a six-game span.
Waxahachie takes the court again at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at Arlington Seguin (12-5, 5-0 in 15-4A). The Lady Indians will play at home again at 6:30 p.m. Friday against Mansfield Lake Ridge (7-12, 1-4 in 15-4A).