The Slocum Lady Mustangs are a squad that when it comes to defense, if an opponent isn't playing at the top of its game, they pay - big time. The Tenaha Tigers fought to within six points at the half, but then suffered through a five-point third quarter and then the 'bottom fell out' defensively in the fourth quarter as Slocum captured this Class 1A D-I Region III Area matchup here in Russell Gymnasium, 55-37, Friday night.
The loss leaves the Lady Tigers (17-13), a team that came into the matchup having won 10 of its last 11 contests en route to the District 22-1A championship, with their fifth straight early exit from the post season and had head coach Laura Holmes bewildered.
"They did exactly what we expected tonight," a dejected Holmes said after the game. "(Slocum) does the same thing year after year: they're trying to get you to help and kick and help and dish and then hope that you'll forget to help and get layups, which is exactly what happened.
"I never saw this coming," she said of the 18-point loss.
Slocum will move on to battle Zavalla - a 37-33 winner over Cushing in the earlier game in Russell Gymnasium - in the Class 1A Region III Quarterfinals of the postseason and try to earn a trip to the regional tournament, which will be held Friday and Saturday at Tyler Junior College's Wagstaff Gymnasium.
Slocum guard tandem of junior Brice Sizemore and sophomore Valerie Larkin make the Lady Tigers pay time and time again in the game. Larkin scored 15 points, with eight of those coming in the decisive fourth quarter when Slocum outscored Tenaha 21-13. Sizemore dumped in a game-high 18 points, scoring four points in the first, second and fourth periods and six in the third.
"We felt coming in we were prepared for them," Holmes continued. "The bottom just fell out. We had the five-point third quarter (offensively), but with a team like they have you can't rely on matching them basket for basket. And then we tried fouling them and that doesn't help because they can hit their free throws, so it's a no-win situation.
"Defensively, we were just horrible on (Sizemore). She probably did more than I've ever seen her do, but I think we let her. We were just giving her layup after layup."
Sizemore was a steady scorer all night long for the Slocum, then during the fourth period when the Lady Mustangs outscored Tenaha 21-13, SHS hit 9-of-13 from the free throw line.
In addition to the guard tandem, freshman Landry Lane added nine points for Slocum, while sophomore Cristina Wickersham added seven and freshman Jordan Ives finished with six points.
The only two seniors on Slocum's squad - Britni Haley and Katleyn Sheridan - didn't even score in the contest.
Tenaha managed two players in double figures, with junior Ashlee Ray and sophomore Eboni Moore each dumping in 11 points. Senior Whitney Jackson scored all six of her points in the first half, while sophomore Jalysa Steadman and senior Tia Thomas scored four points each. Senior post Taylor Killey scored one point.
The Lady Tigers will lose four seniors to graduation. Killey, Thomas, Jackson and Bria Nelson all played their final games.
Slocum held a slim 13-11 lead at the end of the first period and then outscored the Lady Tigers 12-8 in the second quarter to widen the gap to 25-19 at the break. But Tenaha only managed one field goal in the third - a layup by Moore in the first 47 seconds - and then hit just 3-of-5 free throws in the quarter. The Lady Tigers finished the game 6-of-14 from the charity stripe.