Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

February 18, 2014

Girls Basketball Regionals: Kerens 60, Slocum 43

Kerens pays back Slocum with 60-43 romp

By Mike Phillips
Corsicana Daily Sun

TYLER — If revenge is sweet, what is it when it comes in the playoffs — in one of those do or die games?

“Sweeter” said Kerens girls basketball coach Denise Lincoln moments after watching her kids extract some good old fashioned revenge on Slocum Tuesday night in the John Tyler High gym, where the LadyCats took out a year of frustration on the Lady Mustangs, who just happened to be in the way of that 18-wheeler rolling out of Kerens with a GPS set for Austin.

But this wasn’t just a win in the class 1A-DI Regional quarterfinals, not just a one sided 60-43 whipping. In a sense this was payback in the worst way.

Slocum knocked Kerens out of the playoffs last year in a 95-90 double overtime regional quarterfinal game that not only stayed with the Kerens coach and her kids, but left a scar.

The LadyCats ripped it off Tuesday, while ripping there way out to a fast and furious start that left Slocum playing catch up all night. The Lady Mustangs never did.

“My head is going 100 to nothing right now. My adrenaline is still pumping that fast,” said senior Marqueshia Kelly, who scored 12 points, grabbed 15 rebounds and blocked two shots. And that 100 to zero head-spinning adrenaline rush was going on after the game was over.

“That 95-90 score, was stuck in our heads like glue,” Kelly said. “We never forgot it.”

“Yes, revenge was part of this, a big part.”

Taylor Ames, who hit her first three shots of the night — all three pointers — and finished with a game high 20 points, was even more adamant about wanting to beat Slocum.

“The minute we knew we were playing Slocum in the regionals, we were focused,” Ames said. “We were prepared. We were ready!”

It showed. Kerens hit the court with a purpose and blew away Slocum from the opening seconds of the game, racing to a 7-0 lead in the first ninety seconds. The LadyCats forced three turnovers and Breenna Baxter went to work inside scoring two quick baskets on a put-back and a slick assist from Kelly. Then Ames busted a 3 and it was 7-0 just-like-that. Slocum called a time out, but it only delayed the Kerens’ party that took place the rest of the night.

The LadyCats took everything away from Slocum except the keys to the bus to get home. Slocum never recovered from Kerens’ lightning fast start that saw Baxter score six points and grab eight rebounds in the opening four minutes, and saw Ames hit three treys and score 12 in the first-quarter to help build a 24-13 lead.

“That’s who were are,” Ames said. “We came out ready to take the lead.”

“We knew we had to get them down,” said Baxter, who was incredible in the opening minutes.”

They did hand handed Slocum its worst loss of the season.

This was Slocum, a program that knows all about making deep runs in the playoffs and going to Austin.  This was Slocum, 27-6 Slocum a well disciplined sharp shooting team that buries opponents with threes. The Lady Mustangs can shoot your eyes out. And made 6-of-11 threes in the first half — including three from Valerie Larkin, who lead Slocum with 18 points — to keep it close at 35-26. But then Kerens took away the three. Slocum made just one three pointer in the entire second half.

The LadyCats simply took away everything, forcing 32 turnovers (that’s right 32) from a team that prides itself on discipline and taking care of the ball.

It was the LadyCats who took care of Slocum. “We really wanted this game,” Lincoln said. “I can’t even say how much. I don’t have words. It was a year ago today when they beat us in double overtime. It broke our hearts. We thought about that 95-90 double overtime loss for a year. We never joked about it or mentioned the score, everyone knew.”

Lincoln said she wasn’t that surprised when Kerens jumped out to the fast start. “I knew they would be ready for this game,” she said. “It was like, ‘wow’, but I knew we would be ready.”

Baxter finished with 6 points and 12 rebounds and Cambree Betts, who was part of that Betty Crocker turnover front, that stole the ball, momentum, and game from Slocum, finished with 7 points.

Kiara Lindsey, who had half a dozen steals and was unrelenting on defense, scored five points and was invaluable, played with a passion all night.

Emmanuella Armant came off the bench and added four points, and Tinesha Tolliver, who always makes an impact off the bench, did it again.

She scored eight points, going 8-for-8 from the free throw line and came up with some big rebounds as well.

Of course, that was the plan — an all-out, diving, hit-the-floor effort to take back what they had lost a year ago.

They grabbed it, squeezed it and refused to let it go. This game belonged to Kerens from the moment the LadyCats boarded the bus for Tyler.

“Our motto this year is unfinished business,” Lincoln said. “And ‘Slocum’ was one part of it, now that’s taken care of. It was a bump in the road and now that bump is behind us and we can move on and take care for the rest of the unfinished business.”

“And that starts at 3 p.m. Friday in the class 1A-D1 regional semifinals at Tyler Junior College. If the Lady Cats (26-4) win they play Saturday for the right to go to Austin and the state tournament. That’s’ the real business they’re looking for. “We wear those words — unfinished business — on the back of our shirts,” Ames said. “That’s what we want, that’s what this season is all about.”

Well, one thing is certain. They finished off Slocum.