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Girls’ basketball: Dawson surges into playoff picture

February 2, 2019

After the opening five games in District 23-6A, the playoffs were a distant thought for the Dawson girls’ basketball team.

Now, entering the final matchup of the regular season, the Lady Eagles have their eyes fully glued to the postseason.

A 1-4 start to the district campaign would normally spell doom for most teams in any sport, but head coach Isabel Gomez’s group has responded by winning its last three games and five of the last six in resurrecting its chances.

“It’s just confidence,” Gomez said. “We’ve been trying to fight through the mental mistakes that we made at the beginning of district and just playing team basketball.

“We hit that downward spiral, and since then we’ve had team bonding. The girls want it more now, and the fight is there.

“Olivia Johnson, Kyra Lunford and Angelica White have really carried us, and Braelyn Younger has really stepped up in the post.”

The result has been that Dawson has now elevated its overall record to 19-13 and its district mark to 6-5.

With one game remaining for all district teams, Alief Elsik is 10-1 in district and has already secured the league title and No. 1 seed. Beyond that, the 23-6A race is jumbled.

Pearland and Alief Taylor are each 7-4 while Dawson and George Ranch are each 6-5.

On Tuesday, Elsik plays at George Ranch while Dawson visits Taylor. Pearland hosts Alief Hastings, which is 3-8 in district.

Several scenarios exist in unscrambling the race, but Gomez knows her team must maintain the playoff mode which has saved its season to this point.

The latest chapter unfolded Friday night when Dawson defeated George Ranch, 66-63. The Lady Eagles trailed 41-31 at halftime before rallying to defeat a team to which it lost, 68-40, in the first round of 23-6A competition.

“We didn’t show up that day,” Gomez said of the first matchup with the Lady Longhorns. “They were spot-on with threes, and just completely out-played us.

“This time, we played a better defensive game, blocked out and covered the perimeter. We told the girls at halftime that if we’re going to try to match them basket for basket, we have to get some stops. We also missed way too many shots in the first half.”

White, a 5-foot, 3-inch senior guard, scored 19 points, Johnson added 12, and Lunford, a senior post, scored 11 points and pulled down 16 rebounds.

“Angelica also had seven steals,” Gomez said. “Our transition was working in the first half, but we just weren’t finishing.

“We did a much better job in the second half.”

Dawson’s resurgence has it on the brink of the playoffs, but work still remains.

“It all started when we beat Taylor at the end of the first round,” Gomez said. “We didn’t beat Elsik (a 55-50 loss), but we had a chance and let it slip through our hands.

“We’ll keep fighting all the way to the end. The girls’ desire and passion has escalated 10 times to what it was.”

tdunnam@hcnonline.com

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