Mansfield Lake Ridge girls grab last playoff spot

Posted Friday, Jan. 31, 2014  comments  Print Reprints
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Mansfield Lake Ridge claimed the fourth and final playoff spot in District 15-4A with a 39-31 win over Lancaster on Friday night in girls basketball.

It’s the first playoff berth for girls basketball in the program’s two-year history.

“That locker room just now had coaches in tears,” Lake Ridge coach Stephani Gray said. “It was a victory and we were in tears. I just can’t even put into words how proud we are of the fight those kids have.”

Last season, Gray’s squad was faced with the same situation against Waxahachie, but couldn’t seal the deal.

Friday night, Lake Ridge (13-15, 6-7 District 15-4A) held the lead for the entire game thanks to a productive first half, leading to a 22-17 halftime score in Lake Ridge’s favor.

Lancaster (12-13, 5-8), which could have bettered its chances for that final playoff spot with a win, came out with an aggressive man-to-man defense in the second half, putting intense pressure on all of Lake Ridge’s ball handlers.

Lake Ridge connected on just three field goals in the second half, a 3-pointer and field goal by Kylie Collins and a field goal from Janaya Hines.

Lake Ridge managed to get to the free-throw line 15 times in the second half, hitting 10.

“This year, with a year of maturity and a year of being on varsity, we led the whole game,” Gray said. “They kept their lead and didn’t feel the pressure and they drew a line in the sand and said this is it, this is our game.”

Kristan Dewitt led Lake Ridge with 12 points, one shy of the game-high 13 by Brianna Tollins.

Friday’s win was certainly a sign of rapid growth for Gray’s young program.

“When you build a program, you have to build that culture of expecting to win,” Gray said. “Sometimes they don’t expect that. I think they’re starting to believe they are a good team. It’s just that belief and building that culture.”

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