By Todd Wills
Corsicana Daily Sun
The Kerens LadyCats had a taste of the UIL State Tournament last season, so it's easy to understand why there were plenty of tears flowing Tuesday night in Tyler.
The LadyCats lost a heartbreaker, falling in double overtime to Slocum, 95-90, on Tuesday in a Region III-1A DI quarterfinal at Wagstaff Gymnasium.
Fifth-ranked Kerens (27-5) had to play from behind all night, in regulation and in both overtimes. But the LadyCats kept coming back, led by guard Taylor Ames, who scored a game-high 42 points a night after Nate Betts scored 34 in the Kerens boys' 70-62 victory over Big Sandy.
"We didn't ever give up," Kerens coach Denise Lincoln said.
Slocum (31-2) advanced to the regional tournament right here at Tyler Junior College on the shooting stroke of Valerie Larkin, who scored 40 points.
The Lady Mustangs had a fight to the finish against a Kerens team that is used to winning. The Lady Cats trailed 45-39 late in the third quarter, but scored the final five points of the quarter to make it a 1-point game.
Kerens jumped on Slocum for the first four points of the fourth quarter on baskets by Breanna Wells and Tinesha Tolliver for a 48-45 lead. The LadyCats built the lead to 58-53 and appeared ready to pull away, but Slocum's Landry Lane made two clutch 3-pointers to get the Lady Mustangs back the lead at 65-64.
Kerens trailed 67-64 with 1:47 left but rallied to force overtime. Marqueshia Kelly scored a layup off a steal with under a minute to go. After two missed 3-pointers by Slocum, Ames drove in and was fouled with 17 seconds left. She made 1 of 2 free throws, and when Slocum didn't get a shot off at the buzzer, it was time for overtime -- two of them.
Wells, who had 14 points and dominated inside, fouled out with 3:01 left in overtime and that seemed to sidetrack Kerens, which fell behind 74-70.
Ames willed her team back, scoring the Kerens' final eight points of the first overtime, tying the game and then twice giving the LadyCats the lead at 76-74 and 78-76. But Slocum's Brice Sizemore made four free throws to tie the game at 78-78.
"Taylor was unreal tonight," Lincoln said. "She played great."
Kerens did have a chance at the end of the first overtime, but Ames missed a shot off a drive and Kelly missed a short follow to force an extra four minutes.
The LadyCats fell behind again in overtime as Larkin hit a clutch 3-pointer for an 83-80 lead. Kerens twice pulled to within a point at 85-84 and 91-90, but fouls in the backcourt haunted the LadyCats, who watched as Sizemore made four free throws to ice the game.