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Brandeis hangs on for key district victory over Clark

January 13, 2019

Points weren’t coming easily, and Clark’s 8-1 run in the first six minutes in the fourth quarter of their District 28-6A showdown against Brandies qualified as scoring surge.

The No. 2 Cougars managed to slice a 10-point deficit to three. That’s when Brandeis coach Jennifer Brewer called for an inbounds play off a timeout. The play — a pass from Ariana Villa to Claire Hale — was good for a layup and gave No. 5 Brandeis the bounce it needed to hold on to a 42-35 victory on Saturday at Northside ISD Gym.

“The girls wanted to run it,” Brewer said. “They were confident in it, and we came out on top, and it was good. Sometimes, it works. Sometimes, it doesn’t. It gave us a momentum change, and the kids got real hyped after that.”

Clark (23-2 overall, 11-1 district) remained in first place in the 28-6A standings despite the loss. Brandeis (20-3, 10-2) maintained its second-place tie with O’Connor (20-6, 10-2), which defeated Marshall 64-47 on Saturday. Brandeis has handed Clark both its losses this season. The Broncos defeated Clark before district in the Northside ISD tournament. Clark defeated Brandeis in the first round of district play.

“It was a great win for us,” said Hale, a senior forward who led the Broncos with 13 points. “It was definitely something we needed, and I feel we all came together and kept up the intensity the whole game. … (The win) is helpful going into the rest of district, but we have to stay humble and know that it’s anybody’s game right now.”

Clark was led by Ta’Niya Jackson, an Incarnate Word-signee who had 14 points, including 12 in the second half. The Cougars played their fourth game without one of their leading scorers, senior guard Jessica Paz y Puente, who is out for the season with a torn ACL.

With the Cougars down one of their top players, Brandeis stayed aggressive on defense and created a lot of offense by creating turnovers, especially in the first half.

“We really locked down on defense, and that’s what we were focusing on all week in practice — on defense and how we were going to adjust,” Brandeis junior point guard Kaia Herrera said. “Their players are super-quick, and they have a lot of good shooters.”

The Broncos started quickly with sophomore Sophia Haberer scoring all six of her points in the first quarter that helped Brandeis take a 15-7 lead after the quarter.

Brandeis stretched that lead to 23-7 over the first three minutes of the second quarter with Marisa Seaton providing a 3-pointer to highlight the surge. Clark cut it to 23-13 following a layup from freshman Hailey Adams at the 2:04 mark of the second before Brandeis took a 25-13 lead into the half.

Herrera scored seven of her nine points and sank a pair of 3-pointers in the third quarter as the Broncos led 32-22 heading into the fourth.

Brandeis went cold in the fourth and Clark started chipping away. Jackson cut the Broncos’ lead to 33-30 on a driving layup at the 1:50 mark.

“Basketball is a game of runs, and a game of mistakes,” Brewer said. “We had to make sure we kept our heads up and not lay down.”

The Broncos called timeout shortly after Jackson’s basket. From the timeout, Villa took the ball from just inside midcourt on the right side. She directed a perfect pass to Hale who was charging to the basket. Hale’s layup put the Broncos on top, 35-30, with 1:36 left. Hale followed with a layup on the next possession to give Brandeis a seven-point lead. Clark didn’t get closer than three after that.

“It was a pivotal point,” said Hale, who will play at Trinity. “We were only up by three, and they could have easily made a three and tied. Making that shot is what sent us into the last couple of minutes thinking we have to keep this up.”

dhinojosa@express-news.net

Twitter: @hinojosa_david

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