Hooker senior guard Naomi Rodriguez (12) puts up a shot around a Preston defender during the Class 2A Area Tournament in Kingfisher, Okla. Rodriguez scored 14 for the Lady Bulldogs in her final game as No.4 Preston defeated Hooker, 56-47. Photo courtesy panhandleillustrated.com
By JASON EPP
Leader & Times
KINGFISHER, Okla.— A third quarter rally by the Hooker Lady Bulldogs gave them hope and the lead for a short time against the No.4 Preston Lady Pirates. But size and a bad shooting night ended Hooker’s season with a 56-47 loss.
After a pair of baskets to start the second half, Hooker trailed by the largest margin of the game, twelve (34-22). But the Lady Bulldogs rallied the rest of the quarter, thanks in part to step up in tempo that helped the quick, but undersized Lady Bulldogs. Naomi Rodriguez got a steal and drove to the basket, drew the defense and dumped it across the lane to a wide-open Jordan Pritchard to bring Hooker within one point, 40-39. Then with four seconds left in the quarter, Taelor Parker scored to give Hooker a 41-40 lead heading into the fourth.
“I felt like at times we didn’t handle the press the way we needed too. In the second half we did better and that made a big difference. We were able to press them and make them turn it over.”
Preston regained the lead, but Hooker was able to tie the game at 42 and again at 44 with 6:42 to play. Hooker could not get shots to go in, but still trailed by just one (48-47) after a basket by Aliyah Pinion with 2:39 left.
But that was the last points the Lady Dogs would score. Forced to put Preston on the line, the Lady Pirates made all eight free throws in the final 1:25 to escape with the win.
“I’m really disappointed in the loss, but really proud of the girls and their effort all season long.”
Hooker led over the first few minutes of the game, but foul trouble mounted early as Kyra Hussey was hit with her second just four minutes into the game. Preston went on an 8-0 run over the final three minutes of the first quarter to take a 14-8 lead.
“They were big and they jumped well. We just didn’t get them blocked out like we needed too. And if we didn’t it was hard to keep them off the boards.”
Hooker stayed close in the second quarter by getting to the free throw line and making their shots. And while Preston was 0 of 5 at the line in the first half, they made up for it by hitting four 3-pointers in the second quarter, and led 30-22 at half.
Senior Naomi Rodriguez scored 14 in her final game for the Lady Bulldogs. Aliyah Pinion came off the bench to score 14, and Taelor Parker added 10.
The Lady Bulldogs end a remarkable season with a 23-4 record, and will see two seniors depart.
“We love our seniors,” Kennedy said. “We’re going to miss both of them, they really bought in and did a great job. Really proud of the whole team.”