Lady Tigers join in the playoff party
In a physical, sloppy performance from both teams, the Rockdale Lady Tigers slugged out a 34-22 victory over Caldwell in Hornet Gym to earn their first playoff berth since 2005.
Rockdale, 12-16 overall and 6-4 in District 18-3A, wrapped up third place behind juggernauts No. 10 Madisonville (25-5, 10-0) and No. 12 Navasota (34-3, 8-2).
The Lady Tigers were dropped by Madisonville 51-25 Tuesday night in the regular season finale in Tiger Gym.
A Lady Tiger team has not entered the playoffs since 2005 under long-time coach Janet Havelka.
Led by All-State performer Jessica Gaines, Rockdale finished 20-9 that season and bowed out of the area playoffs with a loss to Groesbeck.
Rockdale’s first-round playoff opponent will be Waco LaVega, which finished second in District 17-3A to China Spring.
LaVega (18-10) is led by 6-foot- 4 sophomore Erin DeGrate (14.2 ppg, 11.2 rpg, 3 blks).
The Lady Tigers will have a warm-up game Friday at Holland at 8 p.m.
After guiding Rockdale to its first winning record since 2006 last season, to sixth-year head coach Liz Galloway-McQuitter, this is the next step in the process.
“First, getting to the playoffs is very rewarding,” said McQuitter, who as a Rockdale player led the Tigerettes to two state tournament appearances. “It has special significance because this group is the first little all star team I helped organize when I first got here. They were 3rd (current freshman class), 4th (sophomore class), and 5th ( junior class) graders.
“The Caldwell game was a typical one in Caldwell,” McQuitter said. “It is always like that. They play with extra intensity when it comes to Rockdale. While we did not play our best throughout, we did several things well. “
The last time the two teams met, Rockdale posted a 56-36 win in Rockdale.
In the low-scoring affair Friday, the Lady Tigers chugged to a 9-2 lead after one period and 16-6 at halftime.
Rockdale outscored Caldwell (2-14, 1-8) 13-6 in the third quarter and the outset of the fourth to construct its largest lead, 29-12, after a basket and free throw from Shelby Evans, who led the Lady Tigers with nine points.
Velma Mitchell had seven points and five rebounds.
“We have to make sure that we continue to grow and get better in practice and our last district game,” McQuitter said. “Their press did not hurt us until we just got careless with the ball at the end.
“I told them we had to be 20 points better just to win by 10 at the end. I am proud of this team and very happy for them. It is a big step and hopefully this experience will help them believe in the possibilities ahead this year and in the future.”
Madisonville sprinted out to a 17-0 first quarter lead and never looked back in a 51-25 win.
The Lady Mustangs led 35-8 at intermission.
Evans led the Lady Tigers with six points and was three-forthree from the field.
Mitchell was held to two points on one-for-seven shooting, but grabbed four rebounds and a pair of steals.