Yoakum clinches playoff spot with win against Cuero (w/gallery)
Jan. 24, 2014 at 10:01 p.m.
Updated Jan. 23, 2014 at 7:24 p.m.
CUERO - Yoakum's Latrice Brown admits that she may have underestimated Cuero coming into Friday night's game.
"I don't think I took the game seriously enough in the beginning," the junior said. "I took it too lightly from the start, and it came out that way in the first half."
After a quick pep talk in the locker room from coach Zach Burleson, the Lady Bulldogs (24-4) returned to the court with more focus and agility.
It was enough for Yoakum to beat the Lady Gobblers 44-37 and, more importantly, clinch a spot in the playoffs.
With no time to review all of the team's first-half mistakes, Burleson decided to tell the team what it needed to focus on to win instead of what it didn't accomplish.
But he did notice the negatives.
"I felt like our spacing was off in the first half, and the decision-making was off," Burleson said. "We were not executing at the rate that we are accustomed to, and (Cuero) started pressing, and it cut down on our movement."
For Yoakum's top two scorers, Burleson drove home two points: take care of the ball and just keep shooting.
The pep talk made a difference.
With Cuero (3-4 in district play) leading 21-18 at halftime, Yoakum claimed the lead in the third and never let it go.
Brown led the team in scoring with 18 points, followed closely by Desiree Garza who scored 14 points and two 3-pointers.
Burleson said that if anyone who may have overlooked the Lady Gobblers as a viable opponent learned a valuable lesson in the game.
"Cuero's a good basketball team, well-coached; and they have good athletes," Burleson said.
Cuero freshman Martina Stavinoha led the team in scoring with 10 points and one 3-pointer, followed by senior Missy Odom with eight and Mary Kate Krueger with six. Jaslynn Mathis had five.
With the playoff berth out of the way, the Lady Bulldogs will have their work cut out for them to stay strong through the end of the regular season and going into the postseason.
Going into the final part of her senior season, Garza said it's important to stay focused and play the game and to not get ahead of any opponent.
"You have to come out ready," Garza said.
Burleson has seen a maturation in Garza from the tapes he's reviewed from last season. Her growth as a player has given Yoakum the "extra element."
As for Brown, who is a junior, the coach called her "something special."
"You'd be hard-pressed to find a better athlete in the area," he said about Brown. "She runs fast; she jumps well and does a great job defensively."
Yoakum 59, Cuero 43
Yoakum's T.J. Hights led the Bulldogs in scoring with 16 points and two 3-pointers. Chase Hermes was close behind with 15 points.
Timmy Blakeney scored nine points and one 3-pointer, and Joe Mireles scored eight points and one 3-pointer.
Justin Brown also made two 3-pointers for Yoakum.
Cuero senior Colby Ebrom scored 19 points toward the Gobblers' 43-point final score.
D'Andre Gallagher scored seven points and had two 3-pointers and D'Mond LaFond also made a 3-pointer.