SAGINAW — Broken finger and all, Granbury senior post Lilley Vander Zee delivered.
The Pirates cruised to a 54-33 victory over Cleburne in a Class 4A Region I girls basketball bi-district playoff Tuesday at Saginaw Boswell High School.
Despite the injury on her shooting hand that she sustained in the previous game, Vander Zee dominated the paint, finishing with 12 points, nine assists and six blocked shots.
“It’s not about my hand at this point,” Vander Zee said. “If we lose we go home, and I’m not going home anytime soon.”
Granbury (21-14) used its size advantage to force Cleburne into jump shots. Cleburne (21-13) couldn’t convert its open looks, making just 1 of 12 from 3-point range. Because of her injury, Vander Zee was forced to use her left hand much of the night, including free throws on which she was 4 of 11.
“I practiced shooting them both ways in practice this week, and left-handed felt the most comfortable,” Vander Zee said.
Granbury coach Leta Andrews, the nation’s winningest girls high school coach, praised Vander Zee’s gritty play.
“It’s been touch and go whether or not she would even play,” Andrews said. “But this is what she’s worked for all season and she was determined to get on the court.”
Granbury, which took a 13-point halftime lead, started the third quarter on a 9-0 run.
With Vander Zee on the bench to start the fourth quarter, the Yellow Jackets put on a full-court press and pulled within 15 points with 5:36 to play. The Pirates dug in and forced Cleburne to commit fouls, sending Granbury to the line 19 times in the fourth quarter.
“It takes a total team effort to win in the playoffs, and I couldn’t be more proud of the way our bench played,” Andrews said.
Granbury next faces Wichita Falls Rider in the area round at 6:30 p.m. Friday in Decatur.