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Lady Tigers fall in semifinal to Turkey Valley, 54-41

Mar. 1—SAN ANTONIO- The Neches Lady Tigers season came to an end Thursday morning, falling in the University Interscholastic League's girls state basketball semifinal matchup with the Turkey Valley Lady Patriots, 54-41.

The Lady Tigers finished their season with a 29-8 overall record, and won their fourth straight Region 4 championship.

Turkey Valley had a strong start to the game, building a 12-3 advantage over the first four minutes of play. But, the Lady Tigers would steal some momentum from the Lady Patriots when junior guard Joely Jenkins buried a three-point shot, kicking off a 6-1 scoring run for Neches. Neches held the Lady Patriots to just 1-8 shooting to end the quarter, and ended the quarter with a minimal deficit at 13-9.

The offenses came alive in the second quarter, as the teams combined for 31 points over the eight minute stretch, by far the highest producing quarter for each team in the contest. Junior guard Sealy Hines brought the game within two-point after draining a clutch three off a set screen, tightening the score to 19-17.

Lady Patriot senior forward Anna Ferrel stole momentum back from Neches late in the second quarter, scoring seven points to fuel an 11-6 scoring run, as Turkey Valley widened their lead to 30-23 going into the halftime break.

Neches would once again start slow in the third period, allowing Turkey Valley to stretch their lead all the way to 13 points at 38-25, the largest lead of the game, with four minutes remaining in the period. The Lady Tigers would again battle back, going on a 7-0 scoring run to bring the Neches within six points with a minute in a half remaining in the third period, but would allow Turkey Valley to go on their own small run in the final 90 seconds, ending with a buzzer beating bucket from senior Laney Edwards giving the Lady Patriots a double digit lead going into the final quarter, 43-33.

The Lady Tigers came out firing in the last quarter of regulation, with a Hines three-point bomb from the corner capping an 8-2 run to start the fourth, cutting the Lady Patriot lead to 45-41 with five and a half minutes left in the game. It would be the last points the Lady Tigers scored.

Turkey Valley ended the game on an 8-0 run, finishing off the Lady Tigers 54-41, and earning a spot in the 1A girls state championship game, which will be played at 8:30 a.m. Saturday March 2 at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

Hines finished with a team high 15 points, shooting an efficient 6-14 for the night, going 3-7 from downtown. Jenkins and Addison Spaith both had nine points, with senior guard Audrey Kincade filling up the stat sheet in her final basketball game as a Lady Tigers, scoring eight points and grabbing a team high 11 rebounds and dishing out a team high eight assists. Ferrel led the way for the Lady Patriots, dropping in 16 points, and center Trinity Schlueter had a 15 point, 10 rebound double-double.

Neches will now move on to softball season, where they will seek to earn their third state tournament appearance of the school year, following Neches appearances in the 1A volleyball and basketball state tournaments. Last season, Neches reached the state semifinals in softball, before losing to D'Hanis 3-2. Neches will start the softball season with two games against the Martin's Mill Lady Mustangs. In games that start at 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. respectively, the Lady Tigers will host the first matchup March 5, before traveling for a March 8 rematch at Martin's Mill.