Lady Mustangs fall to Parkers Chapel

Jenna Pike came off the bench during the semifinal of the AA State Tournament to try to help her team advance. Pike had been on the sidelines during the tournament due to a torn ACL that occurred during the last week’s regional tournament finals.

AMBER ROLLAND – Hoof Prints Staff

Just as the clock reached six minutes in the first quarter, Kaylee Greathouse sank a three-pointer from the left wing to give the Lady Mustangs their first points and the lead at 3-2.  Unfortunately, the Lady Mustangs remained scoreless for the rest of the first quarter while the Lady Trojans put up nine more points to bring the score to 11-3.

A few minutes into the second quarter, it was clear that Kaylee, who was half-running and half-limping, needed to be given a rest.  Her hamstring, which she pulled at the end of the game the previous night, was acting up.  Coach Fowler turned to look at the bench behind him and sent in another injured player.  As senior Jenna Pike, who had torn her ACL and meniscus in the regional championship game and sat out every game since then as a result, walked to the score table and began rolling up the knee pad on her right leg, the crowd stood up and applauded with great enthusiasm, the sound coming to an absolute roar in the tightly-packed MAC.

The Lady Mustangs increased their effort in the second quarter, starting off with a jump shot from the deep left corner made by sophomore Cassidy Qualls.  Two more points were added by sophomore Emily Owens as she calmly sank two free throws, bringing the score to 7-17.  By the end of the half, the Lady Mustangs were still only in single digits, down 22-9.

The second half started off with Cassidy retrieving a long defensive rebound and passing it to sophomore Brittany Fowler, who was scoreless for the entire first half.  She pushed the ball down the court and cut across the lane for a layup on the left block.  This bucket, followed by a Lady Trojan turnover, pumped up the home team fans and reinvigorated the Lady Mustangs.  Another jump shot made by Fowler in the third quarter from the deep right corner sent the crowd into hysterics.  This atmosphere helped the Lady Mustangs to outscore the Lady Trojans 13-7 in the third quarter, closing the gap to 22-29 at the start of the fourth.

The final quarter saw three Lady Mustangs foul out:  junior Hayley Parker, sophomore Brittany Stockton, and later Cassidy Qualls.  At this point, the home crowd was definitely questioning the quality of the referees’ calls.  With just under five minutes left of game play, the Lady Mustangs were down by only six points.  Fowler sank all of her free throw attempts, pushing the team to close the margin to five at the three-minute mark.  Cassidy Qualls then netted a three from the top of the key, refueling the Lady Mustangs’ energy.

However, it wasn’t enough, as the Lady Trojans began shaving time off the clock during each offensive turn, leaving the Lady Mustangs no other option but to foul.  Parkers Chapel clenched these crucial free throws, securing them the win.  Had the Lady Mustangs been in full health, they would have been able to give the Lady Trojans a true taste of their vicious full-court press, possibly altering the game’s outcome.

Fowler finished the night with 13 points, followed by Emily Owens with nine.  With less than a minute left, Coach Fowler put in all four seniors, Jenna, Taylor, Kalee James, and Jenny Walker, and it was clear that the game was over.  When the final buzzer sounded, the scoreboard read 45-35 in the Lady Trojans’ favor.

The Lady Mustangs, understandably upset and with three injured players in Kaylee, Jenna, and Emily, who hurt her left knee earlier in the season, headed into the locker room to a standing ovation from the fans. They did not emerge until the first quarter of the next game was almost expired.

Some of them had replaced their tears with a smile.  The rest of them were still crying, but they didn’t wipe their tears away. They walked out of the dressing room as a single unit. To Coach Fowler, this showed his team’s courage to hold their heads high even in the face of defeat.