KEENE — It was almost a love first quarter in a St. Valentine’s Lipan-Abbott Class A Division II area girls basketball playoff game Friday night.
Abbott, down 36-0, finally scored with 34 seconds left, preventing an opening-period shutout.
Lipan, the state’s top-ranked Class A small-school division team, bolted from the gates with a smothering full-court press that had Abbott looking more than perplexed.
Lipan quickly turned defense into offense. Time after time turnovers led to lightning-quick baskets.
The Lady Indians scored on layups, 3-point shots and old-fashioned 3-play plays.
Lipan coach Amber Branson turned off the pressure. If not, Lipan might have scored 150. As it was, the Lady Indians coasted to a 93-15 triumph.
“They took care of business,” Branson said about her players. “We’ll enjoy this one until Monday.”
That’s when they get ready for the third round (last night vs. Frost at Mansfield High School).
A win last night would vault Lipan to the regional tournament later this week in Tyler. Two wins there, and they’re back at the state tournament for the third time in four years. Two wins at state, and they’re the state champs, which would be a first for the Lipan girls.
“They’re focused,” Branson said. “They’re determined to make up a little lost time from last year.”
Lipan, eyeing a state championship, exited from the third round of the playoffs last year.
Friday’s win lifted Lipan to a 33-1 record, with 33 straight wins. Abbott, playing its first post-season game in 10 years, finished 10-13.
Four Lady Indians hit in double figures. Lanie Roberts led with 26 points, Shauna Coleman had 19, Taylor Herrera came off the bench with five treys and 15 points, and Tallen Halliday had 12 points.
“Everybody scored,” Branson said.
Halliday enjoyed a brilliant game rebounding, pulling down 11 (nine offensive).
Roberts turned in an all-star effort, dishing out a team-high eight assists and recording six steals. Kayla Wheeler led the squad with seven steals.
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Class A Division II Area Playoff
Abbott 3 6 6 0 – 15
Lipan 36 26 27 4 – 93
Lipan (33-1) scoring – Lanie Roberts 26, Shauna Coleman 19, Taylor Herrera 15, Tallen Halliday 12, Kayla Wheeler 8, Bryana Phelps 5, Shelby Bontke 4, Kylee Cross 2, Katelyn Martin 2.
Lipan 3-pointers – Herrera 5, Roberts 2, Phelps 1, Halliday 1.
Lipan rebound leaders – Halliday 11, Roberts 7, Bontke 6.
Lipan assist leaders – Roberts 8, Cross 5.
Lipan steal leaders – Wheeler 7, Roberts 6, Coleman 6, Halliday 5.
Turnovers – Lipan 15. Abbott 45.