Lady Rattlers beat Boyd, make playoffs
For the first time since the 2014-15 season and the first time in Class 3A, the Tolar Lady Rattler basketball team is going to the playoffs.
That was not exactly the expectation before the start of the season.
Although first-year head coach Michael Hall said he thought the Lady Rattlers had a shot if they played every game to their full potential, Tolar was not a program filled with optimism.
“Oh my gosh, not at all,” senior guard Grace Jones said on Friday when asked if she saw this coming. The Lady Rattlers had won zero games in District 7-3A in 2018-19, and morale was low for returning players. Jones said she nearly decided to skip her senior year, and the rest of the team also dreaded what was coming.
“Based on last year, we were like, ‘Crap,’” said senior forward Aubrie Sibley. “Last year we’d walk through the halls, and people would say, ‘Oh my gosh, y’all lost again, and again.’”
“This year, they can’t say that anymore.”
Tolar sealed the deal with a 57-47 win over Boyd Friday at home to move to 7-6 in District 7-3A. The Lady Rattlers had one final game Tuesday night against Millsap before the postseason begins next week.
Sibley dropped 17 points and had 10 rebounds in her final home game. Freshman Mia Fletcher was 5-6 from three-point range and finished with 15 points, and Jones added seven points and another 10 rebounds. Sophomore guard Baili Deaver had four steals along with eight rebounds and seven points, and Haylee Burt finished with 10 points and seven boards.
The type of improvement Tolar has enjoyed doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Jones, Sibley and Deaver all pointed to Hall’s changes to the program as the main reason why the Lady Rattlers are playoffbound.
“In practice our mentality is completely different. We practice a lot harder,” Deaver said. “And then we come out in games and we’re not as nervous and we have more confidence.
“We’ve been a little more focused on what our goal is, because we knew we had to change our mentality from last year. We had to not think about how we lost to all the teams last year, but think about how we could come back and beat them this year.”
Sibley said she saw improvement “as soon as Coach Hall got here.”
“Coach Hall came in and changed everyone’s mindset, and we worked hard all season,” Sibley said. “Basically, last year everybody was like, ‘We have no chance at this.’
“And this year, Coach Hall was like, ‘Y’all have the ability to do this, you just have to believe.’ So we started believing in ourselves more and showed it on the court.”
Deaver will be part of the Lady Rattler group next season that will drop to Class 2A and return eight varsity players. She said this season has her excited for the future of Tolar basketball.
“It’s been crazy,” she said. “This has been so much fun.”
Jones echoed her classmate Sibley’s sentiments.
“It’s been awesome, because nobody thought we were going to win a game,” Jones said.
“And we proved everybody wrong.”
Tolar will most likely play Nocona, the top seed from District 8-3A, in the first round.
email@example.com | 817-573-7066 ext. 254
| DISTRICT 7-3A GIRLS BASKETBALL
*1. Brock (13-0)
*2. Peaster (11-2)
*3. Jacksboro (8-5)
*4. Tolar (7-6)
5. Breckenridge (6-7)
6. Paradise (4-9)
7. Boyd (2-11)
8. Millsap (1-12)
*CLINCHED PLAYOFF BERTH