The last time the Richland girls basketball team made the regional tournament, Ronald Reagan was in the Oval Office.
But senior Taylor Phouangaphayvong and company wanted to leave a mark. She scored nine points in the fourth quarter, going 5 of 6 from the free-throw line as Richland pulled off the historic win Tuesday, 45-41 over Arlington Martin in a 6A Region I quarterfinal game from Mansfield Legacy High School.
Richland (19-15) heads to Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center on Friday for its first regional tourney game since 1988. The Rebels will face No. 3 DeSoto (29-6), which beat Skyline 69-57, at 8 p.m.
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“The girls came in and wanted to do something special as a senior group,” Richland coach Shelley Davis said. “There have been battles and trials, but they wanted to leave a legacy and they’re starting to do that, beginning with the 31 years we’ve been waiting to get back to the regional tournament.”
Martin (24-13) tied the game at 35-35 after Autumn Smith hit her fourth and final 3-pointer with 6:52 left. But Smith, who finished with a team-high 12 points, left with a minor leg injury and sat for four minutes. She did return, but with seconds to go.
Tied at 35, the Rebels scored the next four, capped off by a Phouangaphayvong layup to force a Martin timeout with five minutes remaining. She increased the lead to six with 2:40 to play.
Martin’s Kylie Loftis picked up two 3-point plays to get the Warriors back, but Richland made free throws down the stretch.
“We lost in the first round last season as juniors and were disappointed,” said Phouangaphayvong, who scored 14 points, all in the second half. “It’s our last year, we wanted to go out with a bang.”
Richland scored 11 of the game’s first 14 points which led to a Martin timeout with 1:30 left in the opening period. Simara Peyton hit from the free-throw line and then drove to the lane while Phouangaphayvong hit a cutting Annika Gorman for two.
A short jumper from Gorman was sandwiched between two Smith 3-pointers for the Warriors, and Martin hit 1 of 2 from the charity stripe to the tie the game at 18-18.
Peyton and Gorman added late field goals to give Richland a 22-18 advantage at intermission. Gorman had a game-high 18 before fouling out and Peyton chipped in 12.
Crowley 79, FW South Hills 77
Senior Samuel Henderson didn’t want his high school career to end. So he did the one thing he could think of and that was hit the go-ahead 3-pointer with nine seconds left as the Eagles erased an early deficit to stun the Scorpions in a 5A Region I playoff opener at Arlington Seguin HS.
“Just trust the offense. My point guard got it to me and I knocked it down,” said Henderson, who got the pass from senior Ronnie Sanders. “At that point, I caught it in rhythm and let it go.”
Henderson scored 13 points and Sanders finished with a team-high 24.
“That was the play call,” Crowley coach Gary Collier said. “Ronnie is a really good creator and we just needed Sam to be ready and he’s a good 3-point shooter. He’s got nerves of steel and hit a big shot.”
South Hills (17-16), which made the playoffs for the first time since 2003, got out to a hot start, leading Crowley 18-4 with 2:40 left in the opening period following a layup by Marcus Robinson.
But Crowley chipped away and trailed 25-16 after one and 37-33 at halftime. The Eagles (19-15) took their first lead, 58-56, after Jordan Hamlett hit a three at the third-quarter buzzer.
The Scorpions led by four with 3:31 left, but the Eagles regained the lead at 72-71 on a Trey Sanders’ basket at the 2:06 mark.
Anthony Watkins, the Missouri football signee, gave South Hills a 74-72 advantage when he banked in a three, but Ronnie Sanders tied it with 1:42 to play. Watkins, who scored a game-high 25, hit another three that rolled in with 1:11 on the clock.
Crowley will face No. 13 Brewer (29-4), which beat Braswell 51-38, in the second round.