Waco LaVega 2-step: too tall, too fast

Lady Tigers long awaited return to the playoffs short circuited in bi-district round
BY BILL MARTIN
Reporter Sports Editor

BELTON—There are two undeniable factors that you just can’t coach—speed and heighth.

Unfortunately for Rockdale, Waco LaVega was in possession of both these intangibles.

The Lady Pirates used their quickness and vertical prowess to overpower the Lady Tigers 69-23 Tuesday night in a Class 3A Region III, bi-district game.

The Lady Tigers, the third place team in 18-3A, finishes the year at 12-18.

LaVega (18-12), the runnerup to China Spring in District 17-3A, will move on to face Diboll in area action.

In other District 18-3A action, No. 12 Navasota (36-3) defeated Robinson in the first round Monday 58-43. Champion Madisonville had a bye.

The Lady Tigers were making their first playoff appearance since 2005 and it was short-lived.

LaVega matched Rockdale’s baby faced roster with four freshmen and three sophmores, but had a starting lineup that included three players that stood 5-foot- 10 or taller, including 6-foot-4 center Erin Degrate.

The sophomore Degrate used her height advantage to reach 23 points, while snaring 12 rebounds.

However, it wasn’t Degrate’s put backs and followups that doomed Rockdale, it was 5-foot- 10 guard Calvion Landrum (13 points) and and 5-foot-11 guard Faith Dimerson who picked the Lady Tigers apart.

The freshman and sophomore backcourt forced Rockdale into 35 turnovers which accounted for over half the Lady Pirates points.

LaVega entered the game averaging just 39 points a game, but had near that total by intermission.

The Lady Pirates led 21-7 after the first quarter and 33-11 at halftime.

The Lady Tigers’ leading scorer Velma Mitchell was held to eight points, which included a three-pointer in the first quarter and one in the fourth quarter with two free throws in between.


Rockdale’s Lexi Robertson and her Lady Tiger teammates found out just how difficult it was to venture inside against a tall Waco LaVega team Tuesday. 
Reporter/Bill Martin Rockdale’s Lexi Robertson and her Lady Tiger teammates found out just how difficult it was to venture inside against a tall Waco LaVega team Tuesday. Reporter/Bill Martin Rockdale made just nine-of-43 shots for 21 percent accuracy.

The Lady Tigers’ poor shooting prevented them from scoring for almost 13 minutes in the first half as LaVega embarked on a 20-0 stretch.

Despite the return to the playoffs, it was a trying year for McQuitter and her squad.

Mitchell had off season foot surgery and missed six games and played sparingly in a half-dozen more. The sophomore is still not 100 percent.

The 6-foot Evans left the team briefly and missed eight games.

“This team has had to overcome a great deal of adversity this season,” said McQuitter. “There is no doubt that if we had our roster in tact from the beginning, and throughout the season, we would have won six to seven more games. That said, it is a testament to winning in spite of our setbacks.


With 6-foot-4 LaVega center Erin Degrate (1) hovering, Rockdale’s Taylor Pickett snares a rebound. 
Reporter/Bill Martin With 6-foot-4 LaVega center Erin Degrate (1) hovering, Rockdale’s Taylor Pickett snares a rebound. Reporter/Bill Martin “I want to also say that last year’s team had an impact in turning the tide, having a winning record, and putting the playoffs in reach.”

Because the Lady Tigers are so young, they return everyone off this year’s team except senior point guard Visha Henderson.

Two freshmen and two sophomores saw significant action this season.

“This group of girls has played together for their entire careers so far,” McQuitter said. “They care about each other and I am happy to see them break the drought. This group can definitely leave their mark on the program.”

Warm-up

The Lady Tigers struggled mightily to score in a 42-23 loss to Holland in a warm-up game Friday at Holland.

Holland finished second to Thorndale in District 26A.

Rockdale made just nine-of-42 shots (21 percent) on the evening and had just three assists.

The Lady Tigers trailed 22-10 at halftime.

Mitchell accounted for nearly half the team’s points with 11, while also taking eight rebounds.


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