By Larry Lamb
COLLEGE STATION – The Little River-Academy Lady Bees swarmed the Crockett Lady Bulldogs with a 22-5 run in the third quarter to propel themselves to a 62-36 bi-district win Monday night.
Academy (26-7), ranked No. 22 in this week's TABC state poll, grabbed a 17-9 first quarter lead.
Crockett junior Tocarra Johnson got into early foul trouble, picking up her fourth at the 6:30 mark in the second quarter. Johnson sat out most of the second and third quarters before returning in the final period.
"Tocarra already had two fouls and then she got two more back-to-back, boom-boom. I saw the first two but my back was turned on the last two and, of course, we couldn't afford it. When you're the leading scorer, you can't into foul trouble," said Lady Dogs coach TaNesiah Johnson.
The Lady Bulldogs continued to hang tough early in the second half until a 10-0 run shifted momentum to Little River.
The Lady Bees carried a 48-24 lead into the final period and widened the gap to 32 points late in the game.
Coach Johnson cited cold free throw shooting and untimely turnovers as key factors in the loss.
"I thought our start should have been way better than it was. We went into the half trailing by seven but we only made 5 of 14 at the free throw line. We make those shots and we're ahead at halftime," said Johnson.
Crockett finished the night only 11 of 30 at the charity stripe. "That's horrible. You can't do that in the playoffs. We got to the free throw line; we just didn't take care of business," added the coach, noting the Lady Bees were 7 of 14 on free throws.
Johnson said another factor was that none of the Lady Bulldogs scored in double figures. "I always say you need at least three in double figures or you can't win. We didn't have any and Little River had three," the coach noted.
Sophomore A'Nayah Wooten and freshman Tania Davis led with 9 points apiece. Senior Chelsea Walker followed with 8 and Tocarra Johnson, who hit Crockett's only trey, had 7. Freshman Ty'Reyanna Beasley picked up three points at the line.
The Lady Bees were led with 22 points by senior Ellie Erwin, who was joined in the double figures by junior Payten Conde with 14 and sophomore Aislinn Chaffin with 13.
"I told the girls it's win or go home at this point. You can't say I should have blocked out or I should have done this. In our scenario missed free throws and untimely turnovers that we couldn't afford killed us tonight," said Johnson.
Little River entered the playoffs as District 19-3A undefeated champion and Crockett finished fourth in District 20-3A.
Little River's area round opponent is Troy, which beat Scurry-Rosser 59-46 in bi-district.
"Coming into the game I felt real good about our chances of winning. Sometimes that first seed versus fourth seed doesn't mean anything in the playoffs," said Johnson.
Looking back on the season, the coach said she was proud to have reached her 100-win milestone and that the Lady Bulldogs made their first playoff appearance in three years.
This was the final CHS hoops game for the senior trio of Keaton Crabtree, JaKayla Faulk and Chelsea Walker. "I coached Keaton and Chelsea all four years, and JaKayla was a move-in so I only had her this year. All three were key factors, but the great part is we're coming back stronger. We're moving to a new district next year so we're be where we want to be."
Crockett's new basketball district for the next two seasons will include Anderson-Shiro, Cleveland Tarkington, Coldspring-Oakhurst, New Waverly, Onalaska, Shepherd and Trinity.