Coming down the home stretch, the A&M Consolidated girls basketball team called on its defense to finish the job against Waller.
The Lady Tigers clamped down on the Lady Bulldogs in the waning minutes, holding Waller to just 1-of-11 shooting in the final 4:37 to walk away with a 45-37 win in District 19-5A action Friday night at Tiger Gym.
“We pride ourselves on our defense,” Consol coach Wendy Hines said. “To see that fight, it just tells me a lot about the character of my girls.”
Consol’s defense benefited from having guard Claire Sisco for the first time in seven games. Sisco had been sidelined with a hand injury that required surgery but returned to the lineup Friday night and played with her left hand wrapped.
“Sisco’s our defensive guru, and she was doing everything she could,” Hines said. “It’s nice to have her back, our leader.”
Waller pulled within 39-36 with 2:07 left, but Consol (8-5, 5-3) knocked down six straight free throws in the final minute to seal the victory.
“Every coach and teams work on it, but at the end of the day you can’t put the stress in the same type of situation as it is going to be in the game for the kids,” Hines said, “and then they’re like, ‘Oh, it’s me shooting?’ Then it kind of hits them, ‘Oh, I kind of need to make these.’ So I was very proud of them for putting those free throws in at the end.”
Consol was oversized by Waller’s height, but the Lady Tigers found ways to drive the lane and make plays in the paint. Senior post Cierra Gilbert was especially strong on the low block, scoring 10 points for Consol.
“We have to stay on her as far as keep working every play, and with her size ... not only is she a presence but also she can change shots on defense and things like that when she’s in the game,” Hines said. “Our other post players aren’t quite as tall, so she battled.”
In the first half, the Lady Tigers battled back from an early deficit to hold a slim 20-19 lead at halftime. Consol hit just 3 of 12 from the field in the first quarter, but Sara Hathorn, who finished with a team-best 14 points, hit a 3-pointer from the right wing at the buzzer to cut Waller’s lead to just 11-10 after one period.
“I’m very proud of my girls because our shots weren’t falling in the first half, and it’s very easy to get your head down and go, ‘Oh well, it’s one of those nights,’ and they didn’t do that tonight,” Hines said. “They really battled and I’m really proud of them.”
Hines said she liked the response of her team this week as the Lady Tigers played four games in seven days. After winning three straight contests, Consol is up to third in the district standings and has big games against district leader College Station and Rudder next week. Hines said her message to the team this coming week will be simple — compete.
“We’ve got to go out and we want to finish strong in this second round,” Hines said. “Any night anything can happen. In any night, it doesn’t matter who’s playing who. I just want to see them compete and battle, and I’m proud of them for doing that with what they’ve done these last three games.”
A&M Consolidated 45, Waller 37
WALLER — Alexis 13, Peters 9, Singleton 5, Wilson 4, Stowers 2, Ruot 2, Williams 2.
CONSOL (8-5, 5-3) — Hathorn 14, Gilbert 10, Merrell 9, Gooden 8, Sisco 2, Roberson 2.
Waller 11 8 11 7 — 37
A&M Consolidated 10 10 13 12 — 45
JV: Consol won 51-36 (CONSOL — Destyni Gordon 13)
Freshman: Consol won 47-4