Photo by A.J. Crisp
LUBBOCK — The Godley Lady Cats are state-bound after a 54-31 victory over Levelland in the Class 4A Region I final from Lubbock Christian University.
Godley will play No. 3 Liberty Hill in the Class 4A state semifinals Friday in San Antonio at the Alamodome. “It's a really nice feeling,” Godley Coach Mark Chauveaux said. “We've been working really hard to accomplish this, as every team in the state does. But we felt like we had a special group this year, and they proved it tonight.
“We talked in the locker room before the game about how our motto all year long has been 'Earn it.' And before the game, we didn't say much other than we just want to add an '-ed' to that, and this is a step closer.”
Godley senior Makaila Tyer, who scored 12 points and pulled down 10 rebounds, was named the Region I tournament MVP while senior Jaycee Pannell and junior Kaylee White were named to the Region I all-tournament team.
“The MVP could've gone to anybody because it's a team effort,” Chauveaux said. “And I know Makaila would say that, but she made a lot of shots and plays for us. She's been a great player for us for four years and I couldn't be happier for her.”
After falling short in the regional tournament two years ago, Tyer said she set a goal of leading the Lady Cats back to the regional tournament and beyond.
“It's a blessing to win MVP,” Tyer said. “When we came here my sophomore year and lost, I got all-tournament. We decided we'd come back here sometime soon, and that was my goal to get tournament MVP, and getting it means the world to me. Hard work definitely paid off.”
Pannell said advancing to the UIL state tournament has been in the works for four years.
“This is so incredible,” Pannell said. “From going out in the first round our freshman year, and playing with Makaila all four years, we've worked so hard to help get this team here and I'm so glad we get to experience this.”
Tyer echoed similar sentiments about reaching the state tournament.
“It's a dream come true,” Tyer said. “We've all been together working hard since the beginning of summer. We all said we were going to make our 'STATEment' and that was our goal, and we've made it. It's hard to believe, but it's awesome.”
After a slow start in which the Lady Cats fell behind 7-2 with more than 5 minutes played, No. 4 Godley overwhelmed No. 7 Levelland the rest of the way. The Lady Cat defense held the Loboettes to just 21 percent shooting for the game.
“Our defense has been that way all year,” Chauveaux said. “It's a real pleasure to coach these girls because we're able to do some things other teams aren't just because of our length and our athleticism. It's a lot of fun to watch them play.”
Godley senior center Tori Shoemaker had five blocked shots for the second consecutive game, and even when she wasn't blocking shots she and the rest of the Lady Cat defense were consistently altering attempts.
“We've really played the same zone most of the year, but for every team we change it a little,” Pannell said. “For this team, we knew they were going to try to take it to the hoop, so we had to back off a little and play sound defense, stay down and then Tori can block shots in the middle if they get there.”
Godley trailed throughout much of the opening quarter, but in the final 90 seconds Tyer hit back-to-back 3's and White added a late 3 as the Lady Cats closed the quarter on a 9-1 run to take a 12-10 lead.
After taking the lead on White's 3, Godley didn't relinquish the lead the rest of the way.
Late in the second quarter, Haley Robertson hit her second 3 of the half to give the Lady Cats a 26-18 lead at halftime.
The Lady Cats dominated the third quarter as they used a 10-0 run to take a 36-18 lead. Levelland's first points in the third quarter came on a pair of free throws with 3:08 left.
Godley took a 42-24 lead into the fourth quarter and the Lady Cats took their first 20-point advantage on two Pannell free throws, and the rout was officially on.
Godley shot 43.5 percent from the floor including a scorching 8-for-18 from 3-point territory compared to Levelland's 1-of-15 from 3.
“We were kind of stagnant a little bit in the first half,” Chauveaux said. “We saw some things open but saw them late and weren't able to make the passes as quick as we could. I think the second half we were able to see the floor a little better and we knocked down shots.”
In addition to Tyer's 12 points, Pannell scored 13 and Robertson added 11 with five rebounds and five assists. Shoemaker added six points, five rebounds, five blocks and three assists.
“Teams kind of have to pick their poison against us,” Tyer said. “Do they want to double on Tori and leave shooters open? Do they want to leave Tori one-on-one? It's kind of hard to pick because we have so many weapons. It's difficult for teams to figure out, and I don't think anybody really has so far.”
After already eliminating No. 17 Abilene Wylie, No. 2 Kennedale and No. 7 Levelland, the Lady Cats will face No. 3 Liberty Hill in San Antonio. Pannell said they realize the challenge awaiting, but said they'd be ready.
“I know we're going to have a tough time getting to the state championship finals because we have to face Liberty Hill first and they're really good,” Pannell said. “I think we'll be completely prepared with watching film and practicing — we'll be ready.”
No. 1 Argyle and Wharton (unranked) are the other two Class 4A teams headed to San Antonio.
Article shared courtesy of the Cleburne Times-Review, A.J. Crisp reporter. Click here to view the article on the Times-Review website.