CORRECTION: Marble Falls senior guard Emma Koziel scored two 3-pointers in the first quarter and was misidentified. TexasChalkTalk.com regrets the error.
CAPTION: Marble Falls Senior post Lilly Nesrsta scores two to help the Lady Mustangs get a win at Burnet. Photo by Martelle Luedecke/Luedecke Photography
The Marble Falls High School girls basketball team defeated Burnet 55-48 Jan. 24 to remain in first place in the District 24-4A standings, while the Lady Dawgs are fourth with three contests left in the regular season.
“It feels good to win, especially in a rivalry,” head coach John Berkman said. “It puts us one step closer to our goal. We definitely wanted it. With three games left, it made it that much bigger.”
Marble Falls came out firing, making all four of their field goal attempts, all from behind the 3-point line. Senior guards Alyssa Berkman and Emma Koziel each dropped in two, while senior guard Tea Rodriguez scored the other.
“That got the team going and the game started for us,” Berkman said.
“It was looking bleak early,” Burnet head coach Rick Gates said.
Burnet senior guard Danielle Oakley answered with a 3-pointer of her own, but the Lady Dawgs trailed 20-7 going into the second quarter.
The Lady Dawgs flipped the script, scoring 20 points in the second stanza. Posts Zaria Solis and Alexis Leatherwood each scored five points, while forward Sierra Schaefer and Journey Denton each contributed four points to trim the deficit to 31-27 at the break.
Marble Falls began the second half on a 10-2 run where the posts made field goals from the free throw line and senior guard Emma Koziel added a jumper. Senior post Lilly Nesrsta dropped in two free throws for the 41-29 lead. By the end, the Lady Mustangs outscored the Lady Dawgs 14-4.
After Burnet senior guard Grace Gates scored a lay-up, the Lady Dawgs called a timeout. Still, Marble Falls junior center Lexie Edwards hit back-to-back jumpers from the foul line to give the Lady Mustangs a 45-31 advantage headed into the the fourth period.
Berkman immediately hit a 3-pointer in the opening 31 seconds of the quarter, while Edwards added another jumper from the foul line. The two also made 3 of 4 free throws for a 53-31 lead almost two minutes into the period.
The Lady Dawgs answered with a quick basket off their press breaker and Schaefer scored from the low block to end the game on a 10-2 run.
“Last time we didn’t make shots,” coach Berkman said. “This time we made shots. We had other people step up.”
Alyssa Berkman led with 15 points thanks to hitting three 3-pointers and going 4 for 6 from the foul line. Edwards added 14 points by scoring six 2-point field goals. Koziel added eight and Rodriguez had seven.
The coach noted the Lady Dawgs packed the paint and had one player defend Rodriguez in man-to-man defense. The answer was to move the posts high and take advantage of open looks from the foul line. The Lady Mustangs dropped in numerous shots or drove to the basket for lay-ups from that spot.
“That’s the answer to the box-and-1,” he said. “(Posts coach Adley Canales) puts them in position to score. Zaria is a tough defender around the rim. Our posts can shoot that shot.”
Oakley led the Lady Dawgs 11 points followed by Grace Gates with 10 points and Solis with nine.
“Our guards did a good job of finishing,” coach Gates said. “I felt for the most part, we were aggressive offensively even though they were doing their best to take that away. It forced others to step up and accept more scoring responsibilities. We had other kids step up and make baskets for us.”
He said he was pleased with how his team responded in the second quarter and put up a fight throughout the contest.
“That was the first thing we talked about at halftime and at the end of the game,” he said. “Just play. I was really hoping that momentum would carry us into the third quarter. Turnovers hurt us, and we got back down. We talked about consistency and playing hard. I told them how proud I was they did fight back and didn’t give up.”
Marble Falls welcomes Jarrell, while Burnet hosts Lampasas Friday, Jan. 27. The junior varsities play at 5 p.m., the varsities at 6:15 p.m., and the freshmen at 8 p.m.
“I hope we can take some of this into the last three games,” Gates said. “We’re sitting fourth. We want to move up to third or even second. We want to take care of what we can control. If we can do that, we’ll move up.”
The Lady Mustangs will honor Rodriguez minutes before tip-off against Jarrell for scoring 1,000 career points.
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