CORPUS CHRISTI — Victoria West controlled Friday’s Class 5A, area game against Sharyland Pioneer for 29 minutes.
After an Aaliyah Castillo free throw, the Warriors led 33-27 with just over 2 minutes remaining in the game.
But full-court pressure and timely 3-pointers from the Lady Diamondbacks down the stretch ultimately ended the Warriors season in a 38-35 loss.
“We did a great job against their press early in the game,” said West head coach Sandra Jimenez. “We broke it. It didn’t bother us, and it forced them to back off. But when they did it again in those last few minutes, we just fell right into what they were trying to do.
“They played for 32 minutes, and so did we, but that full-court pressure got to us in the end, and they hit some three’s that they had been missing all night.”
West (17-7) jumped out to an early lead behind a strong first quarter from Ashley Giesalhart, who scored 8 points in the first half.
Pioneer (20-2) was able to trim the lead in the second as West scored just 5 points in the quarter, but a bucket from Marleigh Gomez shortly before halftime sent West into the locker room with a 4-point lead.
“This group, we just stuck together like glue,” Giesalhart said. “From the beginning we were there for each other. We went through a lot of tough times and people doubted us, but that just made us come together and play harder. I’m sad about the loss, but I’m proud we made it as far as we did and that we fought.”
West was able to hold the lead into the fourth quarter, and when Pioneer first tied things up, West scored four straight to again gain separation. But three 3-pointers, two from Danielle Rangeland one from Audry Hornaday gave the Lady Diamondbacks the lead, and West was unable to respond in the final minutes.
The loss ends the Warriors season and brings to an end the high school career of the team’s seniors.
“Basketball has always been a lifestyle to me,” Giesalhart said. “I play it everyday, it’s what wakes me up in the morning and gets me going. Not being able to practice with these girls anymore, it’s going to be tough.”
Giesalhart finished the game with 10 points while Haleigh Reyes also had 10, and Aaliyah Castillo had 9.
“Haleigh really came to play tonight,” Jimenez said. “It’s the best game I’ve seen out of her. She’s always had to guard someone bigger and stronger than her, but she got better and better this year, and she understood what she had to do.”
The season may have come to an end for the Warriors, but Jimenez was proud of the perseverance the team had the entire season.
“These kids have gone through the worst of circumstances this year. They kept their composure and grew as a team, especially during district. These girls could have folded against teams with more varsity experience, but they didn’t. They decided they would play the year and make the most of it. I’m extremely proud of all of them, especially the seniors and the leadership they gave to the team.”
Class 5A area round
Sharyland Pioneer 38, Victoria West 35
Points: (W) Ashley Giesalhart 10, Haleigh Reyes 10, Aaliyah Castillo 9, Marleigh Gomez 4, Dailynn Zarate 2; (SP) Jordan Bravo 12, Danielle Rangel 9, Natalie Reyes 8, Audrey Hornaday 5, Danielle Rangel 2, Carly Hornaday 2;
Halftime: West 18-14; 3-Pointers: Rangel 3, Hornaday, Giesalhart 2; Records: West 17-7, Sharyland Pioneer 20-2