Graham’s free throws overcome LHS’s 10 three-pointers in bi-district

  • Laurcy Bender scored a career-high 14 points, including four three-pointers in a 62-54 bi-district loss to Graham. JEFF LOWE | DISPATCH RECORD
    Laurcy Bender scored a career-high 14 points, including four three-pointers in a 62-54 bi-district loss to Graham. JEFF LOWE | DISPATCH RECORD
  • Payton Tatum shoots for the Lady Badgers in her first game back in more than a month. JEFF LOWE | DISPATCH RECORD
    Payton Tatum shoots for the Lady Badgers in her first game back in more than a month. JEFF LOWE | DISPATCH RECORD

Despite making more three’s than they have in a game all season, the Lady Badgers lost 62-54 to Graham on Saturday, ending the season in the bidistrict playoffs.

Senior Taylor Allen knocked down five threepointers in her last game with the Lady Badgers. Laurcy Bender made four three-pointers, and Payton Tatum made one at the final buzzer in her first game back in about a month.

Defensively, Lampasas allowed hardly any twopoint buckets (only six in the whole game). But the Graham Lady Blues shot 26 of 38 from the free-throw line and took advantage of Lampasas’ 16 second-half fouls.

Lampasas (20-9) led 29-22 at halftime and had momentum from back-to-back wins against teams that beat Graham earlier this year.

“It was a good season for us,” LHS coach Mark Myers said. “We won 20 games in a season where Juliana [Dwamena] didn’t start playing till mid-December, and then Payton was out for a real, real long time.”

Myers reached 900 career wins in December, and the Lady Badgers started the season with a month-long, eight-game winning streak.

Tatum was the Lady Badgers’ leading scorer earlier in the season, and Dwamena became the leading scorer after Tatum was sidelined.

Tatum returned to practice on Wednesday and started in Saturday’s playoff game at May. She took a hard hit on one play and suffered a possible broken nose but returned to the game.

Although she didn’t get back to the type of scoring she had in non-district, Tatum showed a lot of toughness getting back to the court after health issues earlier in the season.

“There’s just so many things that she can do positively for us,” Myers said. “That steal and layup right before she got her nose hit was a big-time basketball play.”

Bender said about Tatum: “I don’t think anyone expected her to step back on the court again…Being able to have her back out there with us, even if she wasn’t at 100%, it was still awesome.”

Bender, a junior, is one of 12 players eligible to return next year. Allen, Addison McDonald and Rachel Myles are seniors.

“They were great leaders,” Bender said. “Addie was always the one to push us, to tell us where to go, and she had a great IQ, and Taylor’s shots are amazing.”

Allen had a solid first half with three three-pointers, and there were several lead changes before halftime.

Graham led 11-10 at the end of the first quarter. After Graham led 17-14, Lampasas went on an 8-0 run, taking the lead with the first of Bender’s back-to-back three-pointers.

Dwamena scored Lampasas’ last seven points of the half, and the Lady Badgers were ahead by seven at the break. The late second quarter included a stretch when they outscored the Lady Blues 13-1, and no individual players were in foul trouble at the half.

Graham scored seven straight points in just over a minute to start the third quarter, tying the game at 29-29.

Lampasas would take the lead again on another Allen 3 and later on a Bender layup. But the Lady Badgers committed their ninth foul of the half and had one player foul out before the end of the third.

Graham had the edge, 43-40, at the start of the fourth period.

Dwamena picked up several boards and was able to draw fouls in the paint. She also brought Lampasas to within one point, down 43-42 early in the fourth.

Graham gradually pulled away, mostly because of 11 points on free throws in the fourth quarter. The Lady Blues also had a couple of long possessions to run down the clock in the final few minutes.

Graham’s junior guard/point guard Kate Gober led all scorers with 27 points.

“Experience hurt us today,” Myers said. “Their team was experienced… You can tell that those girls get out and play all the time.” There were times when “we don’t know what to do. And that’s ultimately all my responsibility.

“I was real impressed with Laurcy,” Myers said, adding that 10 three-pointers is “by far the most this season” that the team has had.

Bender and Allen combined for “29 points from the same position, and it still wasn’t enough to win. That’s what’s frustrating,” Myers added. “We’ve got to get better at being able to not foul so much.”

Bender said with the defense Graham used, “we just had to move and get to the open spots…And a lot of times we had Payton drive to the middle to make a gap so we could get an open shot.”

Making the playoffs for a fourth straight year “is definitely an accomplishment,” Bender said. “It was something that we didn’t think we could ever make, especially after going 0-5 in the beginning” of district.

Individual scoring:

Taylor Allen 15

Laurcy Bender 14

Juliana Dwamena 10

Addison McDonald 6

Payton Tatum 5

Kyliegh Ball 2

Jamie Ball 2

Score by quarter

LHS 10 19 11 14 54

GHS 11 11 21 19 62