KINGSVILLE - The Calallen Lady Wildcats held off the Weslaco East Lady Wildcats, 52-46, advancing Calallen to the Area round of the UIL 4A State Basketball Tournament.
The bi-district round was played at Texas A&M University-Kingsville's Kleberg Bank Court on Feb. 12.
"Every game is sweet and we are going to take it one game at a time," said Calallen head coach Beverly Barker. "We're just going to keep riding this wave until we fall off."
While Weslaco's Emma Saenz did most of the work for Weslaco with 21 points and seven rebounds, it was a team effort for Calallen.
Senior Amanda Haven equaled Saenz with 21 points and seven rebounds. However, Haven stole the ball four times, compared to just one steal for Saenz.
"Being in the playoffs, I knew it was win or go home," Haven said. "I have played with these girls for a very long time, and I'm just trying to do what I need to do to in every game to get the win."
Junior Dina Rodriguez scored 17 points and had four steals for Calallen, while Valerie Perez almost scored a rare double-double in points and steals. Perez had 10 points and eight steals.
With the score tied 16-16 in the second quarter, Haven was unable to get the ball, but when it got to her hands, she began to light up the scoreboard, leading Calallen on a 12-2 run to end the half. Haven scored 10 points in the second quarter alone.
The Calallen Lady Wildcats continued to shoot the ball well, extending their leads by as many as 20 points.
At the half, Calallen was up by 43-28.
Calallen's lead quickly decreased as Weslaco East began to play catch-up.
With 3:31 left in the game, Weslaco East's Christie Castillo was at the line with Calallen up by 11, 47-36.
After making both shots, the Weslaco East Lady Wildcats were back in the game.
"I think we relaxed a little bit and began taking our lead for granted," Barker said. "We made some critical mistakes and we had them get to the free-throw line, which caused the clock to stop and we made errors that we shouldn't have."
With 42.1 seconds left in the game, Calallen was up 52-47. With no timeouts left, Weslaco East was forced to foul to try and stop the clock.
However, the Calallen Lady Wildcats wasted 20 seconds on the clock before Perez was finally fouled.
Calallen advanced to play another Lady Wildcat team, this time against Gregory-Portland on Friday.
The Area Championship Friday between the Calallen Lady Wildcats and the Gregory-Portland Lady Wildcats turned out to be a nail-biter, although Calallen lost, 49-44, eliminating Calallen from the State Tournament.
"I have been so happy with this team all year. They have stepped up every game and they have played as hard as they could," said Calallen head coach Beverly Barker. "Even when they were not playing well, they just kept on fighting and I could not be more proud of them."
With Gregory-Portland up by nine points, 47-38, with 1:05 left in the game, Calallen continued to put up a fight knowing the game was not over yet.
Valerie Perez scored an open shot from 3-point land, cutting the Gregory-Portland lead to six.
Calallen got the ball back from Gregory-Portland after a missed free throw from Stefanie Culp was rebounded by Calallen.
Dina Rodriguez found teammate Stephanie Lewis, but Lewis was unable to close the gap for Calallen as Gregory-Portland's Lauren Carter rebounded the ball and was immediately fouled.
Carter made the first shot, but missed the second as Calallen rebounded the ball and Amanda Haven shot an open three, cutting the lead to four points, 48-44, with :08 left in the game.
Haven led the game with 20 points, five rebounds and five steals.
"Amanda was a leader by the way she played and I thought she played phenomenal in district, as well as the playoffs," Barker said. "I really hope she gets a scholarship somewhere."
Valerie Perez finished behind Haven with 13 points and three rebounds. Combined, the Calallen duo hit six 3-pointers.
Gregory-Portland was led by Shelby Poolman with 14 points, three rebounds and a block.
Also finishing in double figures for G-P was Cecilee Perez with 10 points, five rebounds and three steals.
Calallen kept it close the entire game, but it got out of reach after Gregory-Portland's Lauren Carter put her team up by 10 points with four minutes left in the game.
Calallen finished the season with a 7-3 district record that put them in the playoffs.
"It was a very much improved season compared to last year," Barker said. "I think we have accomplished so much to become the team we are."
With just three seniors graduating this year
Alyssa Pimental, Lewis and Haven
Barker believes the team will only improve next season.
"A lot of our sophomores are post players and we have been lacking in our post game," Barker said. "Our guards are already strong, so we could definitely be a better team next year."