NEW BRAUNFELS — Maybe San Marcos likes making things tough for itself. After all, these are the same Lady Rattlers who started District 25-5A play 1-4 and fought back to force a win-and-in situation Friday night against New Braunfels.
Following San Marcos’ 49-46 overtime loss to the Lady Unicorns, Christina Jamerson’s team finds itself in a tougher spot than before.
Due to the setback, the Lady Rattlers must beat second-place Converse-Judson on Tuesday to secure at least a share of one of the district’s four playoff spots. Lose again; San Marcos must hope Smithson Valley (also 3-6) drops its season finale to New Braunfels-Canyon, which would set up a playoff for the final berth.
“Only thing that needs to be said is that we’re preparing for Judson,” Jamerson said. “We have to get our minds right, right now.
“This game is done and over with. It was a hard-fought game: New Braunfels brought it.”
There was never a moment in Friday’s game where the Lady Rattlers seemed destined for the win. No matter how far San Marcos got ahead — which wasn’t by much — the Lady Unicorns answered and Jamerson’s team gave the hosts multiple opportunities to do so.
At halftime, the Lady Rattlers led 22-20 after a well-rounded effort. Eight different San Marcos players scored in the first half, led by six points from sophomore guard Bailey Hill and five by senior forward Pamela Stover.
Then, like clockwork, the Lady Rattlers struggled in the third quarter. San Marcos only scored five points, turned the ball over six times, missed five of its six free throws (which included two possible and-one plays).
The Lady Rattlers were 6-of-18 from the charity stripe in the second half and overtime combined. From the 1:47 mark of the third quarter, until the end of the game, San Marcos was in the bonus.
“We need to make our free throws,” Jamerson said. “Close games can be won or lost there.”
New Braunfels took a 30-27 lead into the fourth quarter, but the Lady Rattlers surged back. After both teams went scoreless for the first two minutes of the final period, San Marcos sophomore forward Natalie Rios hit back-to-back 3-pointers to put her team up by three.
As the Lady Rattlers threatened to pull away, the Lady Unicorns answered with their own 3-pointers. Once San Marcos sophomore guard Shannon Mathis knocked down two free throws — and let out a large exhale after the first — to put the visitor up 42-39 with 20 seconds left, New Braunfels guard Eliesha McKinnis tied the game 10 seconds later.
“My girls never gave up,” Lady Unicorn head coach Lance Hughey said. “We’ve been in situations like this before, where things didn’t go our way, but they pushed through it and made some happen.”
In overtime, New Braunfels and the Lady Rattlers traded 4-0 runs, setting the stage for a big final shot. Amanda Gonzales came through for the Lady Unicorns as she buried a long 3-pointer.
“We were 0-3 in overtime district games, so for us to win this was big,” Hughey said. “My girls finally got to see their hard work pay off and there can be something different than tears in the locker room tonight.”
San Marcos must find its resolve and bounce back Tuesday night against the Lady Rockets. It will be senior night for the Lady Rattlers.