Not meant to be
The Lipan Lady Indians were crystal clear on their expectations heading into the season.
They knew, with a talented roster in their last year in Class lA before Lipan jumps to 2A in 2020-21, that they should make the state tournament. They accomplished that - and came close to winning the whole darn thing.
Lipan lost 44-31 to the Nazareth Swiftettes at the Alamodome in San Antonio Saturday in the University Interscholastic League Class 1A state championship game. Nazareth won its fourth straight state championship and the program’s 24th overall.
“Nazareth obviously is... Nazareth,” Lipan head coach Amber Branson said after the game. “I respect coach (Eric) Schilling and his program and what they do, and they are hard to beat.
“They’re a phenomenal balldub, and phenomenal kids, and he’s an outstanding coach.”
Lipan and Nazareth had squared off earlier in the year, with the Swiftettes winning 50-42. Branson hoped that game would’ve taken some of the nerves away.
“We were hoping that playing them before would help, just seeing them up close and personal, and knowing their personnel a little bit better and help calm the nerves,” Branson said.
The Lady Indians had problems shooting all weekend, but for a brief moment in the second quarter it looked as though Chelsea Lott had solved those problems. The freshman guard buried two three-pointers in the first two minutes of the second quarter to give Lipan a 14-9 lead over Nazareth.
But the Swiftettes responded by going on a 16-0 run to dose the half and taking a 25-14 lead into the break.
That second-quarter run proved to be the difference. Lipan couldn’t climb out of the hole, and trailed 34-19 entering the fourth quarter after scoring just five points in the third.
The Lady Indians were 8-44 from the field in the game. Lipan did shoot 12-17 on free throws, but between the Lady Indians intentionally fouling to stop the clock at the end of the game and the foul trouble they had at the end of the first half, Nazareth was able to go 21-33 from the line.
Lipan cut Nazareth’s lead to nine points on free throws from Kaylee Little with 1:45 left in the fourth quarter and from Taylor Clark with 1:07 left, but that was as close as the Lady Indians got in the final 13 minutes of game time.
Lott led the Lady Indians with 10 points. The freshman was selected by the Texas Girls Coaches Association to the Class 1A All-Tournament team along with junior teammate Maggie Peacock, who scored 16 points in the semifinal win over Chireno and seven against Nazareth.
Emma Kleman, a junior guard for the Swiftettes, led all scorers with 11 points and was named the MVP of the state tournament.
This was the first trip to the state tournament for the Lady Indians since they won their lone title in 2016. None of the players on the current roster got to experience that trip, so for Peacock and her teammates, this was a learning experience.
“Just being here, just the experience, it’s been a dream since we were little girls,” Peacock said. “Being here, it’ll motivate us to come again next year.”
Lipan finished with a record of 34-4. The Lady Indians will return four starters and eight total players from their varsity roster, including five juniors that will be seniors in 2021.
Seniors Taylor Grove and Blaire Vance played their last game as Lady Indians in the state title game. Grove, the Lady Indians’ captain, said she was grateful for the opportunity to end her career at the Alamodome.
“It’s been a blessing,” Grove said. “My teammates, I couldn’t ask for better teammates.
“Nazareth beat us, but we won. They’re just my family. I couldn’t ask for anything else.”
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LIPAN LADY INDIAN BASKETBALL
3 Lynsey Little, Fr.
4 Marti Seymour,Jr.
10 Lili Cogdill, Jr.
11 Kaylee Little, J r.
12 Taylor Grove, Sr.
22 Taylor Clark, Jr.
23 Blaire Vance, Sr.
25 Chelsea Lott, Fr.
33 Daily Coulter, Fr.
44 Trinity Benitez, Fr.
45 Maggie Peacock, J r.