By CLINT FOSTER
OLNEY – They may have come up short on the scoreboard, but don’t call the Mineral Wells Lady Rams “losers” after Tuesday night’s showing in the first round of the Class 3A, Region 1 playoffs.
Determined not to let history repeat itself, the Lady Rams went down swinging in a 57-42 loss to the Wichita Falls Hirschi Lady Huskies – a team that ran past the Lady Rams in a 71-33 victory in late December.
“I’m really proud of all of them,” Mineral Wells head coach Leslie Holman said of her girls after the game. “I thought we fought hard.
“We came out a little tense, a little nervous it looked like.
“But once we settled down and started playing, we made a ball game of it. If we could have made some free throws and some of those easy buckets, it could have easily been a different ball game.
“But I’m very proud of them. They beat us by nearly 40 points last time, so, that was a small victory in itself.”
Early turnovers and missed opportunities put the Lady Rams in a 33-17 hole at halftime, but the girls of Mineral Wells clawed back to a 43-33 deficit thanks to some hot shooting and fast play.
All-district sophomore guard Natalie Ragland simply caught fire in the second half, scoring 11 of her 17 points in the game’s final two frames. She added four assists, three rebounds and a steal to fill out her stat line.
But as vital as Ragland was to the Lady Rams’ comeback attempt, junior Pam Hopkins was the key spark.
She was lethal from the perimeter, flushing three 3-pointers to threaten the Lady Huskies’ lead.
“We just started hitting some shots,” Holman said. “I put Maddie (Papas) and Pam in, they hit a couple threes and that was all it took to light a little fire under them and get us going. We just didn’t match up well defensively with their big girls.”