It wasn’t a pair of wins, but Granbury Lady Pirates basketball coach Leta Andrews still left the James Wann Sports Center Thursday with two nice things after the opening day of the Van Griffith Kia Basketball Tournament.
“We made headway, and we got Lilley (Vander Zee) back playing well,” she said.
The Lady Pirates (6-10) split their two games. They defeated Nolan Catholic 49-38 and fell short against Round Rock Westwood 37-34.
The Lady Pirates were playing Texas Home Educators Sports Association yesterday evening. The winner advances to today’s consolation final.
Ironically, the win was without Vander Zee, their all-state 6-4 post who has signed to play with the University of Texas next season.
Vander Zee missed an early morning workout. So Andrews said she sat her as a precaution against the Lady Vikings (6-4), even though Vander Zee was suited up and on the bench.
Vander Zee did not start the nightcap, a 37-34 loss to Round Rock Westwood (11-3). She did come off the bench a minute into the contest and finished with 18 points, nine rebounds and four blocks.
“I’d say she was only playing at about 50 percent, (strength)” said Andrews. “There were moments when she was her old dominant self.”
Westwood, in winning for a 10th straight game, got 15 points and 14 rebounds from Khiani Clark. She was especially strong when Vander Zee wasn’t in the game.
Westwood built its advantage to 35-26 with 5:03 to play before the Lady Pirates made a late surge.
Granbury forced four turnovers in the final few minutes, committing just one of their own. Morgan Northcutt had a 3-point basket and a pair of free throws to trigger an 8-0 run to make the score 35-34 with 1:38 left.
And Granbury had chances after that as Westwood went 2-for-5 at the foul line in the final minute. But the Lady Pirates managed just two shots, both from 3-point range, including a desperation heave at the buzzer that fell harmlessly short.
“I thought we could do it, but we had way too many turnovers in the game (26) and too many misses at the free throw line late,” said Andrews.
“But I’m not going home upset. We made headway overall, and that’s all we need to do before Tuesday when we start district (against South Hills at home).”
The headway Andrews was referring to was the team’s continued transition to improve with or without Vander Zee on the court.
OPENING IN WELL-ROUNDED STYLE
The morning began as though it would be a rough start to their own tournament for the Lady Pirates as they fell behind Nolan 14-4. Then, a 13-0 run sent them on their way to their first home victory of the season.
They did it largely because of 29 points from the bench, including 11 points and six rebounds from Kali Jones.
“It’s such a good feeling to send a girl in off the bench and know you’re going to get something,” said Andrews. “We get the performance we got from Lilley (against Westwood) and that depth from the bench and we could have a well-balanced team.”
Starting guard Morgan Northcutt led all Lady Pirates with 14 points.
An 8-0 Granbury run during a three-minute span of the fourth quarter virtually sealed the victory, putting the Lady Pirates up 48-34. In that span, Nolan did not manage a single shot with five turnovers.
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Van Griffith Kia Tournament
Nolan Catholic 14 11 7 6 – 38
Granbury 7 19 12 11 – 49
Granbury (6-9) scoring – Morgan Northcutt 14, Kali Jones 11, Whitney Matos 9, Lauren Clough 9, Ashley Bonugli 3, Shelby Cline 2, Breanna Crain 1.
Nolan (6-4) leading scorers – Sadie Mnnesmith 14, Maddie Meno 10.
3-pointers – Granbury: Northcutt 2, Clough 1. Nolan: Shelby Ellis 2.
Rebound leaders – Granbury: Bonugli 6, Northcutt 6, K. Jones 6.
Granbury assists – Northcutt 4.
Granbury steals – Northcut 5.
Free throws – Granbury 16-19, Nolan 3-4.
Westwod 8 7 11 11 – 37
Granbury 9 7 7 11 – 34
Granbury (6-10) scoring – Lilley Vander Zee 18, Northcutt 10,, Bailey Cole 1, Clough 2, K. Jones 1.
Westwood (11-3) leading scorers – Khiani Clark 14, Sarah Afflerbaugh 10.
3-pointers – Granbury: Northcutt 2. Westwood Afflerbaugh 10.
Rebounds leaders – Granbury: Vander Zee 9, Bonugli 9. Westwood: Clark 14.
Granbury assists – Northcutt 2.
Granbury steals – Northcutt 4.
Granbury blocks – Vander Zee 4.
Free throws – Granbury 6-13. Westwood 8-18.