The Navarro Lady Panthers came storming back from a 14-5 first quarter deficit to beat Cuero Friday night, 41-31 and claim the District 30-4A crown.
Navarro (11-1, 24-10) won the title with three freshmen leading the team all season.
“I told the girls we could be proud about it, because I’ve been coaching a long time and it doesn’t happen all the time,” head coach Darrell Harborth said.
The Lady Panthers had to dig themselves out of an early deficit after Cuero hit some shots early in the contest.
“We had a slow start there and you have to give Cuero credit,” Harborth said. “They came out and were ready to get after us — and to hold us to 41, they played some super defense. We were pressing in the first quarter but they were breaking it, and were able to dribble though us. But they’re not a real deep ball club and I think we wore them down late.”
After the slow start, the Lady Panthers came storming back with a 21-5 second quarter to take a 26-19 lead into the second half. The Navarro press started working in the second quarter, as the Lady Panthers got easy buckets off of turnovers.
“We got some turnovers and did some things we like to do to get some easy shots,” Harborth said. “We changed it up in the second quarter and went to a man full, which threw them off a little and got them playing more at our pace.
“We were able to take the lead and from then on we just held on with a five to 10-point lead for the most part.”
The Gobblers scored the first six points of the second half to close to within one, 26-25, but Navarro retook the momentum after Harborth called a timeout.
“We took a timeout and the girls responded,” Harborth said. “We built the lead back up to six or seven and were able to hold on.”
The Lady Panthers hit 16-22 free throws in the contest to maintain the lead, and spread the court with about three minutes left in the game.
“We hit our free throws late when they fouled us and they had to foul us to get there,” Harborth said. “We went to our spread offense with about three minutes to go in the game to get out of a hostile environment with a win.”
Tatum Harborth led the Lady Panthers with 11, while Ryanne Hepp and Micayla Hawes had eight points each, and Laylin Sturm had seven.
Freshmen Sturm, Tatum Harborth and Hepp have led the Lady Panthers all season, and win the district title in their first season of high school basketball — unusual at the very least.
“I knew we were going to pretty good, I knew they could play basketball,” coach Harborth said. “We were going to be more athletic, but I knew our district was going to be tough, which turned out to be true. But if we could just get better throughout the whole year and the district season, we could get it done.”
With the win, the Lady Panthers avoided a tie with Gonzales for the district title, which would have resulted in a playoff game for the top seed out of the district.
“Cuero had beaten Gonzales by 10 last week,” Harborth said. “They (Cuero) were the defending district champs so it was good to get out of there with a win. To avoid that tie and not have to have a play-in game and to be the top seed is huge.”
The Lady Panthers travel to Bastrop Cedar Creek for a playoff warmup game Monday night at 6 p.m. They will play the fourth seed out of District 29-4A, either Carrizo Springs or Pearsall, the following week.
The Matadors kept their playoff hopes alive with a win over Memorial on Friday night, 85-61,
The Mats (7-6, 16-14) outscored Memorial 21-7 in the first quarter, built a 44-26 lead at the half and ran away with the contest with a 31-13 third quarter.
“We came out strong, put on good pressure with our full court defense and made some things happen early,” head coach Dwayne Gerlich said. “Every game is important to us now and the kids took that to heart. The way we look at it now is that every game is a playoff game.”
The Mats trail Boerne Champion (8-4) by two games for the fourth playoff spot out of District 26-5A. Champion beat Tivy on Friday night, dropping the Antlers to 7-4 in the district chase.
“It’s an even a bigger mess really,” Gerlich said. “It’s not out of the possibility that we could have some type of tie, but we could still get in on our own.”
Seguin has three games left, against Kennedy, Tivy and Veterans Memorial — all on the road.
‘If we take care of business on Tuesday, that game on Friday at Tivy is huge,” Gerlich said. “It’s going to be a tough road because we have three road games.”
Gerrit Twitero returned off an injury, after missing the Mats’ loss to McCollum on Tuesday with an ankle problem.
“That was a big deficit to us,” Gerlich said. “He had rolled his ankle and it was too swollen for him to play. He got treatment on it and was able to play last night and did well.”
Chris James led the Mats with 20 points against Memorial, Joseph Vela had 14 and Twitero, 13, in his return.
Eight other Matadors got into the scoring column on Parent’s Night at Goldie.
The Panthers lost to Cuero, 42-35, on Friday, but are still alive for a playoff spot out of District 30-4A.
Navarro (5-5, 14-15) leads the Gobblers (4-5) by a half game with two games left. The Gobblers have three games remaining on their schedule.
A split between the two in the regular season series means that a tie would be decided by a play-in game at the end of the season.
The Panthers played well defensively, but had problems scoring on the offensive end of the floor. The two teams combined for just two points in the first quarter, but the Gobblers outscored the Panthers 17-10 in the second to take the lead.
Ian Osborne had nine points and Cooper Guetzke had seven as the Panthers hit just 11-42 shots from the floor.
The Panthers get Poteet next before taking on district leader Pleasanton in the final game of the district season.
The Marion girls clinched a playoff spot with win over Ingram-Moore, 65-60, Friday night on the road.
The Bulldogs (2-5, 11-21) got a career-high 24 points from Molly Rooke, Lizzie Abrameit added 12 and had a double-double with 10 rebounds, and freshmen Sarah Cook also had a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. The girls host SA Cole on Tuesday night at 6:30 p.m.
The Marion boys won at Ingram, 74-39, with Easton Allen hitting seven of 13 three-pointers for 25 points in the contest. Ryken Autry added 17 and Kadeem Blyden chipped in with 14 in the win.
The Bulldogs (3-4, 12-15) host No. 3 SA Cole at Marion on Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m.
The Lifegate Lady Falcons got 24 points from Sarinna Skrzycki to beat Salem Sayers on Friday night 55-12.
Kevin Duke is the sports editor of the Seguin Gazette. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org .