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Lady Brahmas knocked out of state tournament (w/gallery)

By MIKE FORMAN
Feb. 28, 2014 at 2:03 p.m.
Updated Feb. 27, 2014 at 8:28 p.m.

Hallettsville guard Elise Rother, center left, hugs  teammate Emma Wick, left, after losing 59-44 to Wall  in the Class 2A state championship semifinal game at the Frank Erwin Center in Austin.

AUSTIN - Hallettsville couldn't have asked for a better start in their first UIL girls state tournament appearance.

But the Lady Brahmas would have preferred a more satisfying finish.

Hallettsville struggled on offense, and it led to a 59-44 Class 2A semifinal loss to Wall on Friday morning at the Erwin Center.

"I really thought the difference in the second half was we just couldn't finish on the offensive end," said Hallettsville coach Amy Powell. "The shots that we normally hit . it just wasn't a good shooting night."

The Lady Brahmas (34-4) equaled their second-worst offensive output of the season and hadn't scored 44 points or less since the third game of the season.

"I think we got stale on the offensive end really," Powell said. "I think we went through a couple of minutes on our end where we couldn't get a good rhythm on offense, and that's a credit to their defense."

Wall (34-4) was making its sixth state tournament appearance, but Hallettsville looked like the team with big-game experience, making its first three shots.

Heather Henneke swished a 3-pointer and a steal by Emma Wick led to a jumper by Kasey Hairell before Henneke pulled down a defensive rebound and made a jumper for a 7-0 lead.

"I was very nervous even though it didn't seem like it," said Henneke, who led the Lady Brahmas with 14 points. "Just going to a state game and having never been here it was just a good feeling. When we were warming up, I wasn't really hitting any of my 3s so I was getting frustrated at the beginning of the game. The first shot I shot was a 3 and I made it and that boosted my confidence for the rest of the game. It just seemed like I kept getting foul after foul. It just slowed me down and I felt like I couldn't do as much."

Wall was able to slow the pace by working the ball around the perimeter and getting it inside to 6-foot posts and sisters Bobbi and Maddi Chitsey, who scored 20 and 17 points, respectively.

The Lady Hawks trailed by just two points after the first quarter and took the lead for good on a 3-pointer by Sadie Brest with 4:14 left in the second quarter.

"The first quarter was kind of up and down a little bit with the press," said Wall coach Tate Lombard. "Once we kind of got in our rhythm, we really started playing our style of basketball which is good halfcourt execution at both ends and, I thought we did a really good job."

Wall also forced Hallettsville into foul trouble, and when the Lady Hawks did go the free throw line, they converted 27 of their 38 attempts.

Henneke, Kaymee Howell and Hairell fouled out in the fourth quarter, and Cassidy Targac ended the game with four fouls.

"We really thought before the game that we would have some better opportunities inside," Powell said. "And then we didn't hit our outside shots. Heather fouling out early - Heather's one of our best perimeter shooters so her fouling out early in the fourth quarter certainly hurt us. It took one of our 3-point shooters away so they could key on our post girls a little bit more. I thought we struggled more on the offensive end than necessarily the defensive end."

After making their first three shots, the Lady Brahmas converted only 14 of their next 54 attempts and were 5 of 25 from the field in the second half.

"We couldn't really get the ball inside," Targac said. "We do have some pretty good offensive shooters, but tonight it was really about trying to work it inside. Yes, they had quite a bit of length and height and we didn't have quite as much as they did. But I think the main problem was we couldn't quite get it inside and we were not finishing."

Hallettsville also hurt itself by making only 8 of its 18 free throw attempts.

"We were under 50 percent, and I didn't feel like we got to the free throw line like we should have and part of that is not going up strong to the basket or not fading away," Powell said. "Their length had some effect on us inside. When you do that and you don't go up strong, you're not going to get the fouls called and we didn't get to the free throw line as much as we needed to. I thought we settled for outside shots."

Wall will go for its first state championship when it plays Brock, a 78-38 semifinal winner over Franklin, in the final Saturday at 1:30 p.m. Brock will be going for a record-tying sixth straight state title.

The Lady Brahmas will return home knowing they set the standard for Hallettsville teams in the future.

"Last year not making it to the playoffs and this year making it to the state tournament was a very big change for everybody," Henneke said. "We knew we could get to where we wanted to be and make our dream a reality. Maybe not a state championship, but we still made it to state and that was good for all of us."

Wall 59, Hallettsville 44

WALL: Bobbi Chitsey 20, Stella Doyle 10, Maddi Chitsey 17, Alice Dierschke 2, Sadie Brest 5, Hannah Carr 2.

HALLETTSVILLE: Cassidy Targac 8, Kasey Hairell 8, Heather Henneke 14, Emma Wick 8, Kaymee Howell 4, Imari Grant 2.

Halftime: Wall 30-26. 3-pointers: B. Chitsey, Brest, Henneke, Howell.

Records: Wall 34-4, Hallettsville 34-4.

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