The Tuloso-Midway Cherokees took fourth place in the 26th Annual Pride of Texas tournament Saturday afternoon, finishing with a tournament record of 3-2.
The Cherokees began the tournament taking on the Banquete Lady Bulldogs Thursday morning in a rematch from their game at the Lady Coyotes Invitational last week. Banquete struggled with turnovers throughout the game, resulting in T-M gaining a 57-28 victory.
Later in the day, T-M took on the Weslaco East Lady Wildcats in a closely matched game that went into overtime.
The first quarter saw both teams trading baskets. The Cherokees held the lead through most of the quarter, but found themselves trailing 12-13 at the start of the second.
The Lady Wildcats stayed in control throughout the second quarter until a pair of three-pointers by Nati Vega and Briana Vela gave T-M a 24-23 lead and started a 12-0 scoring run by the Cherokees. By halftime, T-M led 30-23.
In the third quarter, the Cherokees had trouble scoring, allowing Weslaco East to cut the lead down to one point. However, another three-point shot by Vega and a last-second three by Alphin kept T-M ahead, 36-30.
The Lady Wildcats regained the lead with 1:35 left in the game on a free throw by Darcy Cuellar that put Weslaco East ahead 42-41. T-M's Korey Coburn hit a short jumper with 39 seconds left to give the Cherokees a momentary lead, but the Lady Wildcats managed to tie the game by the end of regulation.
In overtime, clutch free throws by Vega and Taylor Reeves helped lift T-M to a 52-48 victory. Reeves lead the team in scoring with 20 points. Vega finished with 14 points.
The Cherokees faced the Westlake Lady Chaparrals the following day, finding themselves outsized by the Austin team. T-M trailed the Lady Chaparrals for the entire game, falling behind 8-20 after the first quarter and scoring only 19 more points by the end of the game, losing 27-50.
Vela led the team with nine points, all from three-point shots.
Westlake would go on to take first place in the tournament, defeating the Rockport-Fulton Lady Pirates 51-24 in the final game. Duever was the tournament Most Valuable Player.
T-M's final Friday game was against the Gregory-Portland Lady Wildcats. Despite keeping the game close, foul trouble from the Lady Wildcats allowed the Cherokees to keep the lead throughout.
T-M jumped ahead to a 12-8 lead by the end of the first quarter, and had a short 6-0 run to begin the second, but G-P soon started to mount a comeback, tying the game with 2:48 left in the half. However, two fouls on Tori Navjar allowed T-M to pull ahead as the player went 4-4 from the free-throw line. The Lady Wildcats cut the lead back to two points, but a last-second half-court shot by Vega gave the Cherokees a 27-22 advantage going into halftime. After the game, Vega said she didn't think about the shot going in when she heaved it at the basket.
"I just kind of threw it up there," Vega said of the shot.
G-P continued to keep pace with T-M in the third quarter. By the end of the fourth, the Lady Wildcats cut the Cherokees' lead to one point, but foul trouble and clutch free throws by Vega and Reeves once again put the game out of reach for Gregory-Portland. In the end, T-M came away with a 53-47 victory.
"I knew they were going to foul me because I'm the point guard, so I just wanted to take care of my free throws," Vega said.
The Cherokees went 15-26 in free throw shooting. Reeves led the team in scoring with 11 points.
With only one loss, the Cherokees finished second in their pool, granting the team a spot in the third-place game against the Harlingen South Lady Hawks.
T-M was able to keep the game close at the beginning, trailing 9-10 at the end of the first quarter, but the Lady Hawks outscored the Cherokees 13-6 in the second quarter.
Reeves helped T-M cut the lead down to six in the third, scoring eight of the team's 10 points in the quarter, but costly turnovers by the Cherokees in the fourth allowed Harlingen to retain the lead for a 47-35 win.
With the loss, T-M took fourth place in the tournament. Reeves led the team with 16 points and was the only player from T-M to make the all-tournament team.
The Cherokees' next game will be on the road against the Alice Lady Coyotes this Friday at 6:30 p.m.